Racing Roundup: CSBK back in action, MotoGP mayhem, World Superbike returning

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Jeff Williams unsuccessfully looks to get past Jordan Szoke at Calabogie. Photo: Bob Szoke

Summertime weekends means it’s race time in Canada … until a pandemic interferes. Despite the doom-and-gloom COVID-19 inflicted on the 2020 Canadian Superbike season, organizers finally managed to put together an event last weekend at Calabogie, with a mixed bag of attendees. The big winner for the weekend? Jordan Szoke, and Kawasaki Canada.

CSBK all-time wins/championships leader Jordan Szoke was there on his Kawasaki ZX-10R, with upcoming hotshot Trevor Daley and other stalwarts like Jeff Williams and Michael Leon. Unfortunately, last year’s Pro Superbike champ Ben Young wasn’t there, and neither were Will Hornblower or Tomas Casas, the last two champs in Pro Sport Bike. That put Szoke as the favourite going in, especially as he’s raced Calabogie before. To nobody’s surprise he started the first Pro Superbike race on pole, and won handily, leading from start to finish. The Daley-Williams-Leon battle ended with Daley in second and Leon in third, his first Pro Superbike podium.

In the second Pro Superbike race, Leon got the jump on Szoke off the line, but lost the lead and then had to retire with bike problems. Szoke led every lap; Williams pressured him hard, matching his times but unable to get a passing opportunity. Unfortunately, the realities of racing during COVID meant the race saw two laps axed due to curfew, which hurt Williams’ chances. Still, when the dust settled, he came out with second place, his best result since a 1999 race win. Daley was third.

In Pro Sport Bike, Sebastian Tremblay set a new lap record during qualifying (he also did well in Pro Superbike), and won the race handily on his Kawasaki ZX-6R—a good day all-round for Team Green, then, especially as teammate Vincent Levillian finished second on his Kawi, and third-place Christian Allard was also on a ZX-6R. Allard won the Amateur Sport Bike championship last year, and this podium was in his first Pro race.

Amateur Sport Bike didn’t run at Calabogie; Amateur Superbike ran Sunday morning, with Marc Labrossiere, Anthony Bergeron-Roddens and Jean-Michelle Halle finishing 1-2-3. As for Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike, Mackenzie Weil took the win, with Mike Maguire in second (both on Kawis!). Paul Etienne Courtois was third. Former CMG big boss Jacob Black was back in action; he took eighth overall, a great result considering he was in crutches with a broken foot not too long ago.

What’s next? Will this be the only CSBK race weekend in 2020? CSBK’s presser says “Series officials will examine the results of the invitational weekend and determine further plans for the 2020 season at a later date, as CSBK continues to experiment with it’s non-spectator return to racing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.” So, stay tuned. Word is, officials are looking to return to Mosport, at least.

MotoGP

The big flap overshadowing MotoGP’s second weekend at Jerez was the question of Marc Marquez’s return. Marquez broke his arm in a crash at the first Jerez weekend, and after having it plated, said he intended to return and race the factory Honda at the follow-up Jerez event. 

Despite the gritty toughness and a medical all-clear, Marquez wasn’t able to pull it off, though, and bowed out of the event. The result? Fabio Quartararo took his second win, aboard the Petronas Yamaha. Maverick Vinales was second on his factory Yamaha, and Valentino Rossi was third, his first podium in a good, long time. Rossi was over the moon over the achievement, and you’d think Yamaha would be happy with a podium sweep. Instead, there’s grim muttering about the bike having a wonky engine this season. Who knows?

One thing’s for sure: Honda is in trouble if Marc Marquez doesn’t return. His little brother Alex managed eighth on the other factory bike. That’s certainly a respectable finish in your second MotoGP race, but it won’t earn the championship. The top-scoring Honda was Takaaki Nakagami, a very respectable fifth on the LCR machine.

World Superbike

Normally, World Superbike would be in its mid-summer break right now. Instead, thanks to the COVID-shortened schedule, it’s getting underway this weekend at … you guessed it, Jerez. Will anyone be fussed to attend, after back-to-back MotoGP weekends? We’ll see. With Assen, Losail and Donington Park all canceled earlier this week, the WSB season is looking like it’s going to be a very short run for 2020, so fans had better take whatever opportunity they can to watch the action.

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