ICAR CSBK Report: Competition Systems Kawasaki
SZOKE OPENS TITLE DEFENCE ON PODIUM
TORONTO, Ont. (June 6) – Despite limited track time due to poor weather conditions and a brand new motorcycle underneath him Jordan Szoke pulled off a third place finish for the Competition Systems Kawasaki Race Team at the opening round of the Canadian Superbike Championship by Parts Canada at Mirabel, Que.’s Circuit ICAR on May 29.
The Brantford, Ont. ace qualified second and ran as far back as fourth in the 20-lap race around the 2.8km track before securing the final spot on the podium on the last lap.
This was the race debut for the latest incarnation of Kawasaki’s ZX-10R Ninja and Szoke and the Mike Crompton-led crew had hoped to use testing and practice on Thursday and Friday to get some valuable set-up time in on the new bike, but persistent rain nullified those plans.
Despite those challenges the seven-time Canadian Superbike champion was able to turn the second quickest time in Saturday afternoon qualifying at 1:23.458. After switching to his second bike early in the 40-minute session Szoke was steadily able to lower his times and turned in his best lap with just over a minute to go.
“I’m pretty happy with how qualifying went, although I am really frustrated with the weather,” Szoke admitted. “We really needed to put some more testing time in.
“I think we were getting closer toward the end and we’ll have a good race pace.”
More rain on race morning prevented Szoke from conducting further set-up work, although the sun was out and the track dry for the afternoon’s Canadian Superbike Championship season opener. Szoke got a good start to run second early on but the lack of track time presented set-up issues mid-race and Szoke found himself coming under increasing pressure from behind. He held off his challengers until lap 16, when he was pushed back to fourth, although he was able to regain third place on the final lap.
“With our limited testing time due to the weather, we took a gamble with the set-up and made some changes for the race which turned out to be a catastrophe,” Szoke explained. “That was the ride of my life and I am really lucky to be here on the podium and snagging some very important points.
“The front end was working beautifully but when we went to go after the leader the rear went away. It wasn’t any one thing but just a whole combination. But championships are won over the course of a season and we’re on the podium, so that’s a good start.”
As a result of the weekend Szoke left Circuit ICAR third in the Canadian Superbike Championship by Parts Canada point standings with 40 points, 16 points out of first after the first of seven races this summer.
“I think the sign of a true championship team and rider is when you can pull out a solid finish despite having everything working against you,” said Crompton. “I think a podium finish in such trying circumstances is a testament to Jordan’s riding and the perseverance and effort of the Competition Systems Kawasaki Race Team.”
Szoke will continue his bid for an unprecedented eighth Canadian Superbike title, and sixth in a row at the doubleheader at Shannonville Motorsport Park July 1-3.
The Competition Systems Kawasaki Race Team would like to thank the following sponsors for making their 2011 racing effort possible:
Canadian Kawasaki Motors Inc., Parts Canada, Akrapoviè Exhaust Systems, HotBodies Racing (lightweight replacement bodywork), Orient Express (supplying K-Tech Suspension components and GB racing engine covers), Vortex (supplying sprockets, rear sets, handlebars and other quality chassis parts), Dynojet Research, Kawasaki S4-R Competition Lubricants, NOCO, Performance Friction Brakes, DID Racing Chains, NGK spark plugs.