By John Hopkins
SHUBENACADIE, N.S. – Jordan Szoke survived a few anxious moments to claim his third straight pole of the 2012 Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship season at Atlantic Motorsport Park on Saturday.
The rider of the Waznie Racing / Parts Canada / BMW Motorrad Canada BMW S1000RR survived a major fork problem early on and a late challenge from Andrew Nelson to claim the top qualifying spot for Sunday’s race with a time of 1:08.233.
Nelson grabbed the second spot at 1:08.300 on the Nelson Racing / Endras Motorrad / mcn.tv BMW S1000RR and Kevin Lacombe was third best riding the Couturier Racing Team BMW S1000RR with a 1:08.483.
Jodi Christie completes the front row for Sunday’s race after another impressive display on the 600cc Jodi Christie Racing / Accelerated Technologies Honda CBR600RR, as he recorded a lap at 1:08.498 in the 15-minute Pirelli SuperPole session.
Szoke was only eighth fastest in the 20-minute Prequalifying session that sets the top 10 runners for the final shootout as he battled with a fork problem. Quick work by suspension guru Jon Cornwell from Ohlins got things taken care of for the final SuperPole session.
“I’m not sure what exactly the trouble was, but it was something inside the fork,” the Brantford, Ont. rider explained. “Jon rebuilt the fork in 10 minutes. He did an awesome job getting it fixed.”
Szoke then had to come up with a quick lap near the end of the SuperPole session as Nelson went to the top with a 1:08.300 with about six minutes remaining. Szoke returned to the track and in the final few minutes got under Nelson’s time to remain perfect in qualifying in 2012.
“”I didn’t think it was that great a lap but sometimes you have to take it easy to go fast around here,” Szoke reasoned. “You don’t want to be tying the bike up.”
Nelson was happy with his qualifying effort although he was disappointed to lose another point to Szoke in the battle for the Mopar Canadian Superbike title. Szoke now has 101 points to Nelson’s 89.
“I’m happy with the lap times but we’ll make a few small tweaks for tomorrow,” said the Kars, Ont. rider, “something so that we won’t be hampered as much through the rough parts of the track.”
Lacombe was also disappointed to lose ground to Szoke in the standings. The St-Cesaire, Que. rider is fourth with 73 points after his result on Saturday.
“The front row is important but we need to work on our race set-up,” said Lacombe, who was fastest in Superbike practice on Friday. “We have work to do tonight. I’m still searching for some front wheel feel.”
Perhaps no one was more disappointed than Christie, who felt he could have taken another two or three tenths off his time had he not been bedeviled by an engine issue that caused his bike to cut out in corners.
Indeed, he had done a 1:08.337 when the bike had run smoothly in the Prequalifying session.
The qualifying period was full of drama. Right at the end of the Prequalifying session Montreal’s Marie-Josee Boucher suffered a huge crash in turn one. The Chaine Performance BMW S1000RR rider was taken to hospital but following x-rays on Saturday evening the worst of her injuries appeared to be a broken rib.
Then Alex Welsh also crashed in turn one early in the SuperPole session. The rider of the AW7R / Kenwood Electronics Canada Suzuki GSX-R1000 was unhurt but will be forced to start Sunday’s race 10th on the grid. The Uxbridge, Ont. racer had been quickest in Saturday morning practice.
Another faller was Bodhi Edie at the end of SuperPole, but the Warman, Sask. racer was also unhurt and will start his Edie Racing / Blue Streak Racing / Fast Company BMW S1000RR sixth on Sunday.
Top rookie was Lacombe’s Couturier BMW teammate Samuel Proulx of Sherbrooke, Que., who qualified eighth.
The front row of the grid is separated by only 0.265 secs. and only 0.730 secs. covers the top seven qualifiers.
1.Jordan Szoke, Brantford, Ont., BMW S1000RR, 1:08.233 (135.067km/h)
2. Andrew Nelson, Kars, Ont., BMW S1000RR, 1:08.300
3. Kevin Lacombe, Granby, Que., BMW S1000RR, 1:08.483
4. Jodi Christie, Keene, Ont., Honda CBR600RR,1:08.498
5. Frank Trombino, Kleinburg, Ont., Suzuki GSX-R600, 1:08.829
6. Bodhi Edie, Warman, Sask., BMW S1000RR, 1:08.887
7. Raphael Archambault, Terrebonne, Que., Suzuki GSX-R600, 1:08.963
8. Samuel Proulx, Magog, Que., BMW S1000RR, 1:09.864
9. Sebastien Tremblay, Longueuil, Que., BMW S1000RR, 1:10.741
10. Alex Welsh, Uxbridge, Ont., Suzuki GSX-R1000, No Time
11. Marcel Irnie, Kelowna, B.C., BMW S1000RR, 1:10.231
12. Marie-Josee Boucher, Montreal, Que., BMW S1000RR, 1:10.326
13. Ron Munroe, Beaver Bank, N.S., Kawasaki ZX-6R, 1:10.564
14. Caleb Noiles, Coverdale, N.B., Kawasaki ZX-6R, 1:11.134
15. Paul Whitehead, Baddeck, N.S., Honda CBR600RR, 1:12.259
16. Richard Thompson, Milford, N.S., Suzuki GSX-R600, 1:12.871
17. Louie Raffa, Ste-Marthe, Que., Honda CBR600RR, No Time