The much-delayed start of the 2021 Canadian Superbike Championship takes place this weekend at Calabogie Motorsports Park, with a limited number of spectators permitted. Organizers anticipate the event will sell out, and tickets won’t be available at the gate. What will the lucky few get to see?
Last weekend at Calabogie, Pro 6 held a busy track day, following two days of their TRAC Riding School. Pro 6 also hosts a new Regional GP race series this season, and have handled the spec Dunlop rubber for CSBK for the past eight seasons.
So, it was no surprise that almost all the likely 2021 CSBK front-runners turned out to ride in sunny but not-to-hot conditions in the land of the black fly.
Last year’s Calabogie National race in late July was run in brutally hot conditions, and Jordan Szoke took both wins on his way to a perfect, if somewhat short, four-race season.
With a total of 14 overall Superbike National crowns to his credit, it is easy to see why Szoke is again the favourite heading into the start of the season.
This year, Szoke has two brand new, not quite identical, Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninjas. Both were on hand for the Calabogie test; one in primer and the other fully liveried.
Szoke was initially reluctant to build all-new machines for the 2021 campaign, but when he received details of the tech spec for the new Ninja, he decided it would be worth the effort the replace his lightly used previous racers.
It is a huge amount of work to produce two identically prepared race bikes, and in this case, Szoke has opted for a few specific differences – at least to start the season. One engine has a significant amount of work by Fast Company’s Scott Miller, while the other is less modified.
“I need to see how these bikes work on the track, and then see how we can tune things with the new electronics,” explains Szoke. ‘We know what they do on the Dynojet Dyno, but things are different on the track with our tuning, ram air, all kinds of variables. When we get to Mosport in August, we will know a lot more.”
The 2019 CSBK Champion, Ben Young, opted not to race in 2020, but tested last weekend at Grand Bend and was at Calabogie along with tuner Willie Vass from Alberta and their 2020 BeeMm. Young was happy with his pace but suffered a small electronics issue that would require further service by Vass prior to the opening two Sunday afternoon National races July 11.
Meanwhile, Young’s second bike was still at Hindle’s, with builder Scott Cartier finishing the BMW S1000RR so that the team would have two machines ready for next weekend. With two races each afternoon, the likelihood of needing a second machine is much increased in 2021.
Perhaps the purest Pro rookie in the 2021 CSBK Season in Alex Dumas, who has never competed in any class in the Canadian National series. Instead, Dumas started off in Mexico, and then climbed through the Junior Cup in MotoAmerica (where he was Champ), on to Twins (second National Title) and then Superstock on a Suzuki GSX-R1000 last year.
Helping Dumas through all these steps was famed tuner and builder Patrice Goyette, a former racer instrumental in the careers of Francis Martin, Clint McBain and Brett McCormick, among others. Dumas had his third day of 2021 at Calabogie on Sunday and turned some of the best times of the day.
Track conditions were perhaps not ideal, although temperatures were much better than last year’s cooking. With track openings delayed due to the pandemic, the track is not as rubbered-in as usual, although a BMW auto event early this week should help.
One racer not completely happy with the traction was One Speed Suzuki’s Trevor Daley, who was not satisfied with the electronic compromises required to limited rear wheel spin with his GSX—R1000. “T-Rev” had taught the previous two days and is aiming to build on his ‘bogie podium finish for 2021.
CSBK has just announced a Manufacturer’s Championship for 2021, a plan established in 2019 and then delayed due to COVID-19. With two quick Suzukis on the grid, BMW could have a threat in terms of overall, multiple challengers for podium placings.
As well as Young, BMW has Royal Distributing’s veteran Michael Leon, who has spent the winter updating the electronics on his 2020 S1000RR. Last season promised much for Leon but was scant on solid results – a podium in Race 1 at Calabogie followed by an electronic DNF, then at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, a solid opener after a tire gamble, followed by a fall from the lead battle in Race 2.
The third quick BWM belongs to Samuel Guerin, the 2020 Rookie Pro who became the break-out star of the National series at ‘old Mosport’ last season. Guerin shocked everyone by qualifying right at the front at Calabogie 2020 with his well-travelled BMW, although his races were less than consistent.
Then at C.T.M.P., Guerin made his next step, racing for the lead in both races in very tricky conditions, and earning two impressive podiums. His dices with Szoke last August had the whole paddock talking, and Guerin is looking to build on that momentum as CSBK gets ready to restart – finally! – for 2021.
- By Colin Fraser / PMP