This weekend, the 2015 Canadian Superbike championship series opens at Calabogie Motorsports Park; thanks to off-season changes and ongoing rivalries, there should be lots of great racing for fans to enjoy this season.
Last season, Jodi Christie (Honda) finally got his first Pro Superbike crown, after previous king of the hill Jordan Szoke (BMW) injured his hand in a trials riding accident, putting him out of contention mid-season. Christie capitalized on that opportunity to become the reigning champion.
This season, you can be sure Szoke wants that crown back from Christie. However, CSBK big boss Colin Fraser says there’s another competitor who could also challenge for the Pro Superbike title this year – Kenny Riedmann.
“If you talk to them,” Fraser said of Riedmann’s team, “They would cautiously say they expect to be on the podium all the time – and if you’re on the podium all the time, you can win the championship.”
It’s not a crazy idea; Riedmann won the Pro Sport Bike title last year, finally wresting it out of Jodi Christie’s hands. Riedmann rode a Triumph Daytona 675 in that series, but he’s racing a Kawasaki ZX10 in the Superbike championship this year.
As well, there’s been gossip that Brett McCormick, who dominated in his last CSBK season back in 2011, might also show up for a race or two. Fraser says that for now, the money isn’t there to bring McCormick back for a full season; however, McCormick is attending university these days, which happens to bracket nicely around CSBK’s schedule.
“I wouldnt be surprised if he comes back at some point,” Fraser said. “Our relatively brief season suits him.”
If we do see McCormick make a comeback as a wild card entry, it could snatch valuable points away in what’s setting up to be a tight two-way or three-way battle for the top. Remember, there’s a double-header in Edmonton this summer, which is much closer for McCormick to visit than the other CSBK tracks.
Even if McCormick doesn’t visit the Edmonton round, the switch-up of the tracks this year will likely impact the series. Adding Calabogie isn’t a huge deal – CSBK has visited there before, and some racers are quite familiar with it. Szoke, particularly, thinks the track’s layout is very suited to his talent set. Some of the newer riders (Riedmann, particularly) haven’t raced there before, so this could be a track that gives an advantage to the old hands.
However, no CSBK hand really has any history at the new Edmonton track, and the locals out there might surprise the CSBK crew when they show up, Fraser said.
Of course, the flip side of adding new tracks is that Shannonville was dropped from the schedule this year. Fraser said that was simply a matter of ownership questions. The track is up for sale at the moment, and he was reluctant to commit to racing there without a clear picture of the future.
“Long term, we’d like to be back at Shannonville; it’s always been a cornerstone of the series,” Fraser said.
Of course, the season opens at Calabogie instead this year, where the Vintage Road Racing Association will also participate in the weekend’s fun, with Period 4 machinery racing this weekend as well. This move is an experiment for now, but Fraser said we might see more VRRA/CSBK team-ups if everything goes well.
Another change this season is the absence of the CBR250 series; there will be no spec series in CSBK this year, unless you count the Ninja 300 invitational race at the season-ending double-header at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Fraser said CSBK is building about 20 bikes for that event, which will be available for purchase for teams who want to race them in the 2016 season. Modifications will be basic, with a Dynojet kit, Hindle slip-on pipe, Dunlop tires, K-Tech fork kit, Elka rear shock, and frame sliders comprising most of the upgrades.
“The bikes are pretty close to stock; they probably have a couple more horsepower than stock, and they’re a little bit lighter,” Fraser said.
Want to see the action in person at Calabogie this weekend? The fun starts Friday, with actual races running Sunday. You can buy tickets and camping passes online here, or at the gate.