Lynden, ON, based Szoke, 39, already holds the record for the most championships (12) and most race wins (65) in CSBK history, totals he will try to add onto as the five-round, seven-race schedule kicks off at SMP. The Mopar Express Lane BMW Motorrad Canada Superbike Team star will have a range of top riders to compete with this season, as he searches for his fourth consecutive crown and 11th in the last 13 years.
Samuel Trepanier, a third-year Pro out of Sainte-Barbe, QC, will perhaps be Szoke's biggest challenger after a thrilling battle to end the 2017 season at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, one that helped propel Trepanier to fourth in the final standings. Ben Young (Collingwood, ON), the 2016 Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year, will also be a front-runner, having finished third in the standings in each of the last two years. Both riders are set to run on a BMW S1000RR, similar to the one Szoke will be piloting.
Behind the trio of Szoke, Trepanier, and Young, other challengers could feature veterans Michael Leon and Jeff Williams, also both aboard BMW S1000RR's. Former championship runner-up Trevor Daley (Mississauga, ON) is also expected to return full-time to the series aboard a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, after competing in only two races last season.
In the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike class, 19 year old Tomas Casas from Peterborough, ON will look to defend his title from a year ago, though he may endure a tough challenge from a number of capable competitors. Mitch Card (Ripley, ON), who was the runner-up to Casas last season, seems poised to battle his fellow Yamaha YZF-R6 rider again after the two ran side-by-side at last weekend's RACE regional opener at Shannonville. Card is also expected to show well in the Feature class with his Fast Company Yamaha YZF-R1s.
Veteran Louie Raffa and youngster Jacob Shaw-O'Leary, two of the lone Honda riders in the pro ranks (both aboard CBR600RR's), also figure to challenge Casas and Card up front. Each will look to make their presence felt at their respective home races, with Raffa a favourite at Autodrome-St. Eustache near Montreal, QC, and Shaw-O'Leary a usual contender at Atlantic Motorsport Park just outside of Halifax, NS.
Below the pro ranks, the amateur classes could feature some of the closest racing in years, with the Superbike, Sport Bike, and all-new Lightweight divisions set to produce a number of battles throughout the grid.
Vincent Levillian, Danny Cayer, and Dave Natale were the three top riders in the Magneti Marelli Superbike class who did not turn pro at the end of last season and are expected to be among the contenders for the title this year, with Levillian and Cayer also looking to win the Parts Canada Amateur Sport Bike crown.
Szoke's wife and teammate, Amy, is also slated to return to the amateur class after taking a brief hiatus, though she was among the best female racers in North America prior to her maternity sabbatical in 2010.
Jake LeClair, just 17 years old, is widely considered the favourite to win the inaugural Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike crown after a dominant performance at last weekend's non-Championship event at Shannonville. However, the Yamaha YZF-R3 rider from Blackstock, ON will face some serious competition from his younger brother and teammate, Ben, as well as fellow teenagers Matthew Simpson and Connor Campbell, who are both aboard Kawasaki Ninja 300's.
Tickets are available at the track (gate); $10 on Friday, $15 on Saturday, $30 on Sunday, or $50 for the whole weekend. Additional information can be found at www.shannonville.com and at www.csbk.ca.
Action from the 2018 Mopar Canadian National Superbike Championship will be televised on Canada’s Sports Leader, TSN. Dalton Timmis Insurance presents Mopar CSBK on TSN will consist of half-hour programs from each of the seven national rounds. Dalton Timmis Insurance will also be a co-sponsor of the online coverage of the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike class, typically available the day after each race.