Tomas Casas had a strong opening event in the CSBK National Road racing series at Calabogie, scoring a pair of fifth place finishes one week ago for his Parts Canada-backed, works -support Yamaha YZF-R1 effort. After missing last season due to Covid concerns, the 22-year-old was at the sharp end of the field and running with the top guns – not bad for his Superbike debut at Calabogie.
“I was really happy with my qualifying,” stated Casas, from his home in Peterborough, ON. “It was good to be up to speed after not riding last year. My last race was the Pittsburgh MotoAmerica round in 2019. But I’m not happy with my Calabogie results. I know now I have the pace to compete, and I’m at a point in my career that I need to get results.
“I had really severe arm pump, especially in the first race. After that race, my right wrist and hand were so swollen, I had to keep them in an ice bucket for 15 minutes to get the swelling down.”
In recent months, arm pump and the related difficulty holding onto the bars and utilizing the controls – especially with the all-important right hand – has been an issue for several top riders across several series.
“I have spoken with a doctor,” explained Casas of his last week’s activities. “There seems like there are a number of factors that contributed to the issue, including not having raced a bike for so long. The weekend was a bit of a scramble, it was pretty tense, so these things are all possible factors. Even vaccinations could be an issue.
“Still, I am concerned going forward, and I would prefer not to have surgery, at least not until the off season. The next National at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in August won’t be as much of a test, so I’m going back to Calabogie this weekend for the Pro 6 GP Regional and we’ll see how I make out.”
Casas was second quickest in Qualifying behind BWM’s Ben Young and confirmed that in Q he was “very comfortable with the pace, although I wasn’t sure if that lap would be good enough for second on the grid. It wasn’t a perfect lap, I had two big moments with the back end coming around, and another smaller issue, so really a busy lap!
“Realistically, after everything over the last two years and even during the weekend, I had to be happy with second on the grid. I have very little riding time at Calabogie, and I’m really still learning about the track. But when you get out there with the top guys, you learn fast!
“In the first race, I was second right from the start, I got a great start, I was right on the tail of Jordan (Szoke, on the works Kawasaki). Everything felt good, and I think I had the pace to be right there.
“When Alex went by (eventual winner Dumas, on a Suzuki), I was impressed by what he was doing. How he was riding was quite different compared to Jordan, his riding lines, and I think those of use close enough to see learned a few things.
“I can say that I really learned a lot. Then the arm pump kicked in, it was really awful, around lap five (of 12). In race two, we made a few changes, it went a little better, but it still happened, and when you feel it, it gets worse fast – it’s a very rapid problem.”
In his second full-season concentrating on the YZF-R1 Superbike, Casas is confident his Yamaha is capable of success in CSBK.
“The bike handles really well, “explains Casas. “We struggled early with the data acquisition at Calabogie, we had some trouble with our systems, and we didn’t get all the data until the last session. This meant my data guy, Andrew Trevitt, didn’t have as much time to work through all of the information, but we can already see how much this is going to help.
“I really think the R1 is well-suited to Calabogie because it’s a track where you spend so much time leaned all the way over, working the edge of the tire. When you have the confidence in the bike at a challenging place like Calabogie, it makes all the difference in having the confidence to run at the front.
“I finished 2019 running at the front of the Superbike field, and I knew that when I returned, it was essential to get back to the front right away, to push my pace right off the bat. Now it’s time to make the small steps, the little changes, that lead to more podiums and hopefully race wins.”
“With what is likely to be a fairly short season in 2021, our focus for this year is to keep progressing, and gain as much good data as possible, and aim to get a win under our belt. Maybe a win (near home) at Mosport, would be a good way to show we are moving up to the next level.”
As far as first-time CSBK racer and winner Dumas is concerned, Casas says he was, “surprised but not surprised. I know he comes from a different racing level. He’s only 18 but look at all the experience he has had. I’ve been cheering him on, watching him in MotoAmerica.
“He’s maybe had to make a few tweaks to ride here (in Canada), and he will have to figure out Mosport. But he will figure it all out, and it might make for a completely different race. He’s already had an effect on the rest of us.”