By John Hopkins
SHUBENACADIE, N.S. – Two years away from the racing scene haven’t quenched the love affair between Kevin Lacombe and Atlantic Motorsport Park.
The St-Cesaire, Que. rider, a three time Superbike race winner at AMP, set the fastest time in practice on Friday for this weekend’s third round of the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship. Lacombe turned a lap at 1:08.485 on his Team Couturier Racing BMW S1000RR late in the final 40-minute practice session.
“I think it’s about being consistent,” said Lacombe of his history of strong performances on the tight and technical 2.56km, 11-turn AMP circuit. “I’m not always the fastest rider but I think I’m very consistent. With all the bumps and the Roller Coaster, there’s no place to make mistakes. It’s about relaxing and being patient with it.”
Lacombe’s success at AMP is somewhat ironic given that he suffered a near fatal crash at the track in 1999. He was back in 2001, however, and in 2004 took the first of his three Superbike national wins at the track. He followed up with triumphs in 2005 and 2006.
After being out of racing for the past two years Lacombe says he is now at his peak racing fitness after taking some time to work himself up to speed at the opening two rounds of the 2012 season, at Shannonville Motorsport Park and Autodrome St-Eustache.
“The retirement is over now,” he said. “I am able to push from the first practice, and this is important because it gives us more time to adjust the bike. At the other races I was still getting up to speed by Sunday morning and it was too late to work on the bike then.”
Lacombe was also quickest in the morning Superbike practice on Friday with a time of 1:08.865. He said he took some time to get in his quick lap in the afternoon while his Patrice Goyette-led crew worked through some front suspension changes.
“We tried something different with the front forks,” Lacombe explained. “It was better at the end but we’re still learning.”
Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship points leader Jordan Szoke of Brantford, Ont. set the second quickest time on Friday with a 1:08.680 on the Waznie Racing / Parts Canada / BMW Motorrad Canada BMW S1000RR and Kleinburg, Ont.’s Frank Trombino was third at 1:08.696 riding the Acme Slate / Dua Bodywork / G Suspension Suzuki GSX-R600.
Szoke comes into this weekend with an 11-point lead over Andrew Nelson in the Pro Superbike standings, 97-86.
“We were working on some new geometry we haven’t tried before,” said Szoke. “We weren’t running any long stints.
“I knew Kevin would be the guy to beat so I’m not surprised. I’m a little disappointed our times aren’t better but as long as we keep making progress I can’t complain.”
Szoke felt he may have messed up his best lap.
“I had a little brain fade and went wide off the backstraight,” he said. “That might have been a low ‘eight.’”
Jodi Christie was fourth fastest with a 1:08.734 on the Jodi Christie Racing / Accelerated Technologies Honda CBR600RR and Nelson placed fifth at 1:08.791 riding the Nelson Racing / Endras Motorrad / mcn.tv BMW S1000RR.
Alex Welsh is third in points coming into this weekend with 75. The rider of the AW7R / Kenwood Electronics Canada Suzuki GSX-R1000 was seventh fastest on Friday. Lacombe is fourth in points with 71.
Matt McBride, fifth in Superbike points after two rounds, has not made the trip to AMP.