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Wednesday, 18 July 2018 11:04

Szoke, Casas searching to extend championship leads as series heads East

mopar CSBK AtlanticToronto, ON Defending Pro champions Jordan Szoke and Tomas Casas are looking to extend their respective points leads this weekend as the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship heads to its penultimate round at Atlantic Motorsport Park in Shubenacadie, NS. 

The Pro Cycle and Honda Canada sponsored event will be the first of two Pro double-headers this season, offering both Lynden, ON’s Szoke and Peterborough, ON’s Casas ample opportunity to move closer to a successful title defence. 

Three-time reigning Mopar Pro Superbike trophy holder Szoke is searching for his record 13th championship overall in 2018 and has thus far made the most of the opportunity, winning the first three races of the season aboard his Mopar Express Lane BMW Motorrad S1000RR and capturing 167 out of a possible 168 points entering round four. 

Szoke will also be looking to win his sixth consecutive Pro Superbike event at AMP and tenth overall, having not lost since 2014. 

His main title rival - and the holder of that lone other point by virtue of pole position in round two - has been Collingwood, ON’s Ben Young, who is still searching for his first career Pro Superbike victory. However, the Scot-Build BMW rider may be poised to do so this weekend, as his riding style and overseas experience will likely suit AMP well. 

Another name who usually runs near the front is St. Isidore, QC’s Samuel Trepanier, who sits third in the overall standings and could have some momentum after an inspiring performance at his home track in round three. However, the Blysk Racing BMW rider has been vocal about his struggles at small, tight tracks, something that could hinder his ability to stay with Szoke and Young.  

A pair of dark horse’s entering the event could be Mississauga, ON’s Trevor Daley and Inverary, ON’s Jeff Williams, with both having experienced success at the track before. Daley, currently riding a Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja, won his first and only Sport Bike race in 2014, while the BMW pilot of Williams is the lone rider in the field outside of Szoke or Young to have scored a Pro Superbike podium at AMP, doing so in 2004. 

It could also be a pivotal weekend for the Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year fight, with Kawasaki ZX-6R rider Samuel Desmarais (Lasalle, QC) taking a three-point lead into the weekend over Suzuki GSX-R1000 pilot Jean-Francois Aubin (Saint-Jerome, QC). 

They likely won’t be the only potential surprises up front, however, with the track typically playing host to a number of talented local riders.

One of those local riders, though he is hardly an unknown in the CSBK series, is Falmouth, NS’s Jacob Shaw-O’Leary, who will be making his season debut and could challenge for his first Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike victory. 

The O’Leary Brothers Racing Honda CBR600RR rider scored a pair of podiums late in his Pro rookie season last year but missed the first three rounds of 2018 after suffering an injury at a regional event prior to the National opener. 

He will surely have his hands full with 19-year old defending champion Casas, who is coming off a win in round three and is in the driver’s seat to defend his title from a year ago. The Parts Canada Yamaha YZF-R6 rider finished first and second in his two races at AMP last season and is a strong bet to finish on the podium in both races once again.

Shaw-O’Leary won’t be Casas’ only challenger, though, with round two winner Mitch Card (Ripley, ON) also a perennial front-runner aboard his Fast Company Yamaha, while Hamilton, ON’s David MacKay has been turning heads this year aboard his Kawasaki ZX-6R and St-Marthe, QC’s Louie Raffa sits third in the overall standings after a consistent year aboard his Raffa Racing Honda. 

The new Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike class could see its first champion crowned this weekend, with Blackstock, ON teenager Jake LeClair holding a commanding lead over Laval, QC’s Alex Berthiaume entering their seventh and eighth races of the campaign. LeClair, riding a Yamaha YZF-R3, has won all but one contest so far this season, and as such owns a 60-point advantage over fellow Yamaha rider Berthiaume.  

The other two Amateur classes could see plenty of movement this weekend with still much to be decided, with Mirabel, QC’s Luc LaBranche leading both championships aboard his Yamaha YZF-R6 though by the smallest of margins. The Magneti Marelli Amateur Superbike class will see LaBranche carry just a one-point lead into the weekend over Ajax, ON’s Michael Van Ek, who sits second aboard a BMW S1000RR. 

Meanwhile, LaBranche holds a similar one-point advantage over 15-year old phenom Nicolas Meunier (Verdun, QC) in the Parts Canada Amateur Sport Bike class, with the Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja pilot the potential title favourite entering the final two double-header events given his gradual improvement over the season so far.

The inaugural Parts Canada Hard Charger Award fight will likely see some drama as well, with Meunier currently locked in a tie for first entering the fourth round of action. The award is given to the rider over the course of the year who shows the most improvement from qualifying to the race, something Meunier has quickly become accustomed to.  

Pro Cycle is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2018 and is among the proud sponsors of the CSBK series, as well as remining Atlantic Canada’s source for motorcycles, ATV’s, and power equipment, among other products.

Full results and the weekend schedule can be found on the series’ official website at www.csbk.ca, while Pro Cycle can be contacted at www.procycleonline.com.

PHOTO CREDIT: The Mopar CSBK series rolls into Atlantic Canada with round 4 at Atlantic Motorsport Park. Superbike points leader Jordan Szoke (1) will be looking to extend his championship lead with two races this weekend at the Nova Scotia venue. [Photo: Rob O'Brien]

Last modified on Saturday, 21 July 2018 05:09

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