By John Hopkins
ST-EUSTACHE, Que. – Jordan Szoke continued his mastery of qualifying in the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship and made a small dent in Andrew Nelson’s championship lead by claiming pole position for Sunday’s second round of the season at Autodrome St-Eustache on Saturday.
The Brantford, Ont. rider turned a lap at 45.112 seconds on the Waznie Racing / Parts Canada / BMW Motorrad Canada BMW S1000RR for his second straight top qualifying effort of the season and his second consecutive Pirelli SuperPole triumph at St-Eustache.
Kevin Lacombe was second fastest at 45.566 secs. on the Team Couturier Racing BMW S1000RR and Nelson settled for third with a lap at 45.605 secs. aboard the Nelson Racing / Endras Motorrad / mcn.tv BMW S1000RR.
“I was hungry to get out right away and get a good lap down,” said Szoke, who turned his fastest lap right at the start of the top 10 shootout. “I was a little disappointed because I wanted to see a 44.9 but the bike is great, very consistent.”
The seven-time Canadian champion earned four points for his performance and moved up to second in the Mopar Pro Superbike point standings with 45 points, 12 behind Nelson, who added two points to his total.
Szoke acknowledged that while qualifying on pole was satisfying, getting a good start will be key to his chances of winning Sunday’s 22-lap grind around the tight and technical 1.93km (1.2-mile) St-Eustache track. He had to work his way up to third at the season opener two weeks ago after a poor start from pole position.
“I like this track and I have fun here,” he pointed out. “It is mentally tough to race here, you don’t get any breaks, and it’ll be a tough race. I got an OK start at Shannonville but I was too tentative. I’ve got to get off the line first tomorrow and then I think I can get away.”
Indeed, while his rivals seemed to have to work hard to turn in laps in the mid 45-sec. range, Szoke appeared to be able to endlessly string together times in the low 45s.
Lacombe celebrated the second race of his comeback after a two-year layoff by qualifying second. A slow leak in a tire had sent the Couturier crew down the wrong path on set-up, but after that was rectified the St-Cesaire, Que. rider showed impressive pace.
“We found some time this morning, and the bike is working really well on used tires,” he explained. “I’m still having a little trouble feeling the rear traction with the traction control, and I’m searching for front feel a little, but I have good speed going into the turns.
“This weekend I’m feeling more comfortable. At Shannonville things still seemed to be going fast in my head, but today was more like I haven’t been away.”
Nelson was comfortable with his third best qualifying effort, acknowledging that little mistakes prevented him from putting together a better lap.
“I don’t think my lap time was indicative of how fast I can go,” he said.
Alex Welsh completes the front row for Sunday’s race after qualifying fourth fastest with a 45.726 on the AW7R / Kenwood Electronics Canada Suzuki GSX-R1000. The Uxbridge, Ont. racer tried to mimic Szoke’s trick of getting his fast laps in early, but mistimed his run and encountered traffic. He conceded, however, that he was in better shape than at Shannonville, where he had a crash and then suffered through electrical problems before Sunday’s race.
“At least the bike’s not in pieces,” he said. “The start is important here. As long as I’m on the front row I think we’ll be there.”
Bodhi Edie of Warman, Sask. continued his fine showing on the Edie Racing / Blue Streak Racing / Fast Company BMW S1000RR. Last year’s Pro Rookie of the Year in the national series qualified fifth with a time of 45.888 secs.
Shannonville race runner-up Matt McBride took sixth on the Riders Choice BMW S1000RR with a lap at 46.134 and Jodi Christie on the Jodi Christie Racing / Accelerated Technologies Honda CBR600RR was top 600cc qualifier in seventh with a 46.262
1.Jordan Szoke, Brantford, Ont., BMW S1000RR, 45.112 (141.248km/h)
2. Kevin Lacombe, Granby, Que., BMW S1000RR, 45.566
3. Andrew Nelson, Kars, Ont., BMW S1000RR, 45.605
4. Alex Welsh, Uxbridge, Ont., Suzuki GSX-R1000, 45.726
5. Bodhi Edie, Warman, Sask., BMW S1000RR, 45.888
6. Matt McBride, Mississauga, Ont., BMW S1000RR, 46.134
7. Jodi Christie, Keene, Ont., Honda CBR600RR, 46.262
8. Frank Trombino, Kleinburg, Ont., Suzuki GSX-R600, 46.524
9. Sebastien Tremblay, Longueuil, Que., BMW S1000RR, 46.746
10. Sylvain Dery, St-Colomban, Que., Kawasaki ZX-10R, 47.354
11. Francois Dumas, St-Raymond, Que., BMW S1000RR, 46.731
12. Samuel Proulx, Magog, Que., BMW S1000RR, 46.803
13. Martin Hamel, Drummondville, Que., BMW S1000RR, 46.944
14. Marie-Josee Boucher, Montreal, Que., BMW S1000RR, 47.008
15. Marcel Irnie, Kelowna, B.C., BMW S1000RR, 47.618
16. Louie Raffa, Ste-Marthe, Que., Honda CBR600RR, 47.754
17. Franklyn Dominguez, Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que., Honda CBR1000RR, 47.869
18. Michael Leon, Beaconsfield, Que., Honda CBR600RR, 48.268
19. Tony Stufko, Ottawa, Ont., Kawasaki ZX-10R, 48.720
20. Amzy Nawaz, Thornton, Ont., Kawasaki ZX-6R, 48.823