For the third straight season, the National motorcycle road racing tour will begin at the famous S.M.P. venue located just east of Belleville in south eastern Ontario.
Shannonville Motorsport Park first hosted motorcycle racing with it’s debut event on Thanksgiving weekend, 1976, and since then has established a reputation as one of Canada’s most popular competition venues. Formed in 1981, Shannonville-based event organizers RACE host the Regional “Super Series” Championship on various versions of the S.M.P. track.
While several different layouts at S.M.P. are available, the nine turn, 2.47 km “Pro Circuit” has lately been the most popular choice with the National Championship Pro and Amateur competitors.
In 2017, a new community-focused partnership was developed for S.M.P.’s opening round, with the Trenton Military Family Resources Centre participating in the event. With so many military members and veterans in the greater Belleville area, the MFRC was a perfect fit for CSBK Superbike at Shannonville.
2018 will mark the 54th National Championship round at the circuit, originally known as Nelson International Raceway, after builder and initial operator John Nelson. Over the past 16 years, the victor at the Shannonville opener has gone on to win the overall National title and number one plate 12 times.
Last season, Mopar Express Lane/Motovan backed veteran Jordan Szoke of Lynden, ON moved through the busy field on his BMW S1000RR Superbike to take the Feature race victory, eventually clinching the overall title at the final event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, ON. This success marked Szoke’s 12th career overall title – no other racer has more than six Pro Superbike number one plates.
At Shannonville in 2018, much attention will be focused on the debut of a brand new category in the National Championship CSBK Series, Amateur Lightweight Production. With two Ltwt races scheduled, one Saturday and one Sunday, Shannonville will showcase these small displacement, entry level production-based machines from Kawasaki, KTM, Yamaha, Honda and other manufacturers.
The rules for the new Lightweight category are loosely based on the standards employed by the Kawasaki Ninja 300 spec series that ran as part of the National tour in 2016 and 2017. 15-year-old Xavier Paradis of Shannon, Quebec won the Championship in 2017, and must be considered a favourite in 2018 for the inaugural Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike Title.
Meanwhile, the 2017 Mopar Express Lane-sponsored Lightweight Production Championship at the RACE Regional Series at Shannonville was won by National Ninja 300 front runner Jake Leclair of Blackstock, ON. At the final 2017 RACE Regional at the end of September, Leclair switched to a Yamaha YZF-R3 and dominated the race, riding with prototype Dunlop Sportmax Q3 tires. Next year, all racers will run on the new Dunlop spec rubber as supplied by distributors Pro 6.
The RACE “Super Series” regional season program will open 2018 with a round May 13-15, and some CSBK participation is expected for that event. The traditional Shannonville School and Test Days will take place April 28 and 29, while the VRRA’s opening Vintage event of 2018, the Quite TT, is slated for S.M.P. May 31 – June 4.