By John Hopkins
SHANNONVILLE, Ont. – When the chips were down Jordan Szoke rose to the occasion.
Although he hadn’t been fastest in any of the three practice session, the seven-time Canadian Superbike Champion moved to the top when it counted, claiming pole position for the opening round of the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship at Shannonville Motorsport Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Brantford, Ont. ace managed a lap at 1:04.749 on his Waznie Racing / Parts Canada / BMW Motorrad Canada BMW S1000RR early in the 15-minute top 10 shootout and it stood up for pole. No one else could even crack the 1:05 barrier.
“It felt really comfortable and I think I could have even gone quicker,” said Szoke, who has three career Superbike national wins at Shannonville. “We’ve really been concentrating on consistency – I’m putting more laps on the tires than ever – and we have a nice feel for the bike. We made some geometry changes from Friday, ride height, but very small.”
Szoke wasn’t even bothered by a crash in turn three with just a few minutes left in the session.
“I wasn’t going crazy and I just lost the front,” he admitted. “It’s slippery through there, Alex crashed there yesterday.”
The fall did lead to some anxious moments on the mandatory dyno run in post-qualifying tech when the engine wouldn’t fire, but that was traced to a loose wire and all was well.
Szoke’s time was 0.367 secs. clear of Andrew Nelson on the Nelson Racing / Endras Motorrad / mcn.tv BMW S1000RR, who qualified second with a 1:05.116, his best time of the weekend. The Kars, Ont. racer was pleased with the result and felt that he could turn times in the low 1:05 range throughout Sunday’s 22-lap race.
“We tried some things, mostly handling and some traction control,” Nelson explained. “I think we have a consistent bike and it feels good.”
A late surge moved Kevin Lacombe up to third on the grid aboard the Team Couturier Racing BMW S1000RR. The St-Cesaire, Que. rider turned his 1:05.119 on his last lap.
“We’ve mostly been working on the clutch and traction control,” said Lacombe, who has been away from the sport for two years. “We had a new tire for the last 15 minutes but when I went out something didn’t feel right. It turned out I had a bent wheel so we had to make a switch and get back out before the end of the session.
“I’ve been away for two years, and riding the bike and pushing it to the limit are two different things.”
Matt McBride completed a BMW sweep of the front row with a time of 1:05.244 on his Riders Choice S1000RR after being fastest in all three practice sessions.
An impressive Jodi Christie will lead the second row in Sunday’s race after qualifying fifth with a 1:05.342 on his Jodi Christie Racing / Accelerated Technologies Honda CBR600RR, the Keene, Ont. rider running with DOT Pirelli tires rather than slicks.
Next up was Christie’s Pro Sport Bike sparring partner Frank Trombino of Kleinburg, Ont., who recorded a 1:06.057 on the 725 Sports / Acme Slate Suzuki GSX-R600.
Rounding out the second row for Sunday is Alex Welsh on the AW7R / Kenwood Electronics Canada Suzuki GSX-R1000, who recorded a time of 1:06.104. After crashing his primary bike on Friday afternoon, the Uxbridge, Ont. racer was bedeviled by electronics gremlins on Saturday.
Last year’s top rookie Pro Bodhi Edie of Warman, Sask. was eighth fastest with a time of 1:06.302 on the Edie Racing / Blue Streak Racing / Fast Company BMW S1000RR. Completing the top 10 starters are Francois Dumas of St-Raymond, Que., who recorded a lap at 1:06.438 on his Team Dumas Superbike / boulangeriedumas.ca BMW S1000RR, and the ProStar Motorsports Honda CBR600RR of Parry Sound, Ont.’s Aubrey Bailey, who lapped at 1:08.350 in the top 10 shootout.
Both Edie and Bailey made exciting moves into the top 10 near the end of the 20-minute prequalifying session. Their last laps pushed the unfortunate Sebastien Tremblay out of the shootout and left him 11th on Sunday’s race grid.
1.Jordan Szoke, Brantford, Ont., BMW S1000RR, 1:04.749 (136.218km/h)
2. Andrew Nelson, Kars, Ont., BMW S1000RR, 1:05.116
3. Kevin Lacombe, Granby, Que., BMW S1000RR, 1:05.119
4. Matt McBride, Mississauga, Ont., BMW S1000RR, 1:05.244
5. Jodi Christie, Keene, Ont., Honda CBR600RR, 1:05.342
6. Frank Trombino, Kleinburg, Ont., Suzuki GSX-R600, 1:06.057
7. Alex Welsh, Uxbridge, Ont., Suzuki GSX-R1000, 1:06.104
8. Bodhi Edie, Warman, Sask., BMW S1000RR, 1:06.302
9. Francois Dumas, St-Raymond, Que., BMW S1000RR, 1:06.438
10. Aubrey Bailey, Parry Sound, Ont., Honda CBR600RR, 1:08.350
11. Sebastien Tremblay, Longueuil, Que., BMW S1000RR, 1:06.464
12. Marcel Irnie, Kelowna, B.C., BMW S1000RR, 1:06.577
13. Samuel Proulx, Magog, Que., BMW S1000RR, 1:06.668
14. Sylvain Dery, St-Colomban, Que., Kawasaki ZX-10R, 1:06.806
15. Kristopher Garvie, Caledon, Ont., Kawasaki ZX-10R, 1:07.678
16. Franklyn Dominguez, Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que., Honda CBR1000RR, 1:07.804
17. Marie-Josee Boucher, Montreal, Que., BMW S1000RR, 1:07.897
18. Michael Leon, Beaconsfield, Que., Honda CBR600RR, 1:08.031
19. Louie Raffa, Ste-Marthe, Que., Honda CBR600RR, 1:08.245
20. Tony Stufko, Ottawa, Ont., Kawasaki ZX-10R, 1:08.889