Jordan Szoke Goes Undefeated to Capture a Record-Breaking Seventh Canadian Superbike Title
Jordan Szoke’s march to a record-breaking seventh Canadian Superbike title ended in perfection as the Brantford, Ontario rider won both ends of the season-ending doubleheader at Atlantic Motorsport Park (AMP) in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia to claim the 2010 Parts Canada Superbike Championship with an undefeated record. He began the season tied with Steve Crevier at six.
Szoke arrived at AMP with a commanding 74 point lead in the championship over second place Francis Martin (268-194), but in spite of the advantage he certainly wasn’t lacking motivation. In addition to his pursuit of a seventh title, he was looking to add another career milestone to his resume.
“I’ve won five in a row three times now in my career and I want to win those last two,” he said, following his sweep of the doubleheader weekend at Mosport International Raceway in mid-July. “I’m going to do my best to do that. I want a perfect season and put my name up there.”
That is exactly how it played out.
Szoke wrapped up the Superbike title in the first race on Saturday, leading every lap from the pole position on his Honda CBR1000RR, and finished 2.817 seconds ahead of Andrew Nelson’s BMW S1000RR.
The race was relatively uneventful until the closing stages when Frank Trombino, who was running third, was forced to slow down on the back straight due to a throttle issue and Martin crashed into him. The race was red-flagged two laps short of the full distance.
Szoke’s win combined with Martin’s 13th place finish, settled the championship. Going into the final race of the season on Sunday, Szoke had 324 points while Martin sat in a distant second with 207.
“It’s been a dream come true this season with the success I’ve had,” Szoke said afterwards. “We’ve got one more race tomorrow and I want to win that one bad. The pressure’s off now and we’re going to do everything we can.”
The title pressure may have been off, but Szoke’s desire for a perfect season kept his focus razor sharp for the final race on Sunday.
As he did on Saturday, he started from the pole and lead every lap, and managed to shake off pressure applied by Nelson.
To his credit, Nelson gave Szoke all he could handle early on thanks to a good start. A mistake on lap five, however, cost him valuable time that he wasn’t able to make up. He wouldn’t seriously threaten Szoke’s lead for the remainder of the race.
In the end, Szoke’s victory was even more dominating than the one he recorded the day before. This time around, he crossed the finish line with a 9.116-second advantage over Nelson. The factory BMW of Michael Ferreira rounded out the podium.
“At the start of the year I thought we’d be able to put together a good challenge for the championship, but to do this is unbelievable,” said Szoke after his 36th career Canadian Superbike win, the most in series history. “When you think back on the whole year, it’s so easy to make just one mistake that could cost you a race. To do what I did is still shocking to me.”
Szoke also successfully defended his Pro Sport Bike title (his fifth straight), which moved him into a tie with Don Monroe for the most in Series history.
Nelson’s back-to-back podium efforts at AMP were enough to vault him into second in the final point standings. While his 244 total marks his career-best points finish, it was a distant second to Szoke, who completed the season with 376.
“I can’t complain about my weekend. Everybody’s been finishing second to Jordan this season,” Nelson said.
For his part, Martin rebounded from his accident in the first race to finish sixth in the finale, despite riding with a sprained ankle. He finished the season third in final points, ten behind Nelson with 234.
As for Martin’s first season back in the Superbike class with BMW Motorrad Canada, it was one that produced some mixed results. He finished second to Szoke in three straight races at Calgary and Mosport to close the gap in the standings, but he also finished sixth (twice) and 13th which reduced his championship hopes to a long shot.
Ferreira, Martin’s team mate, acquitted himself well in his first campaign in the Superbike class. His fifth place ranking in the final standings came on the strength of back-to-back third place results at AMP.
The other pre-season contenders, Kevin Lacombe and Alex Welsh, never figured into the championship hunt. Lacombe got off to a strong start with second and third place finishes on a self-funded Suzuki effort, but after a crash in the second race at Calgary in late June, he didn’t contest the second half of the season.
Welsh, the sole rider for Kawasaki’s Competition Systems effort had an up and down season, running mostly in the 6th-8th place range. Things seemed to begin to come together for him at AMP, however, where he recorded his best finish of the season- fourth place.
Being the sole rider for a big time factory team seemed to be a bit of a difficult burden for the 22 year-old to bear at times during the season. He likely could have benefitted from having a team mate to bounce ideas off of and share information with regarding set-ups. He conceded to PRN before the Mosport rounds in July that the changes within the team’s operations prior to the season had taken some time to adjust to, but he remained confident both in his and the team’s ability to produce the results Kawasaki had grown accustomed to during the Szoke era.
Despite the challenges, Welsh’s finish in the final standings (seventh) was the same as it was last season when he was Szoke’s team mate. His visit to AMP also produced his first career victory in Pro Sport Bike along with a second place finish.
One young rider who consistently impressed this season, was 17 year-old second year pro Jodi Christie. Competing against 1,000cc machines on a Honda CBR600RR in Superbike, the 2008 Amateur Sport Bike champion opened a lot of eyes with his close second-place finish behind Szoke in the season-opening race at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Quebec. He finished fourth in the final standings.
Despite the noteworthy results turned in by Christie, Ferreira, Nelson and others, they were all overshadowed by the sport’s best rider at the top of his game.
Simply put, Szoke would not be denied. For those who may have wondered how he would respond after a somewhat awkward parting with Kawasaki last winter and the formation of his own privateer effort with Honda machinery, an undefeated season really speaks for itself. Regardless of the competition or the manufacturer he’s competing with, Szoke just wins – a lot.
So what’s next for the newly married, 31 year-old? Will he return next season in an attempt to secure his eighth championship (sixth consecutive)? It’s unclear at the moment, although he told PRN in July that he has enjoyed running his own team this year, (which includes an Amateur Sport Bike entry for his wife Amy), in spite of the growing pains associated with the new venture and is looking forward to seeing it develop. In the same conversation, he mentioned the possibility of contesting some more AMA Superbike rounds next season (at press time he had competed in one round this season at Mid-Ohio, where he finished 10th and 15th). A full season could be in the cards.
And if not, it’s a good bet he’ll be back looking for title number eight in Canada.