The opening round of the 2011 Canadian Superbike season was history in the making for BMW Motorrad Canada and its racing partners. The weekend started with high hopes after two very successful pre-season team tests. The biggest and most frustrating part of the weekend was the weather. Rain, drizzle, mist and cold all contributed to very little track time for everyone; however these conditions actually proved to be positive in the end.
After testing in the rain at Shannonville a few weeks ago, both radX team riders Michael Ferreira and Brett McCormick felt very confident that they would be a dominant force on their BMW S1000RR motorcycles if the weather remained the same for qualifying and the race. As it turned out, the rain stopped and the sun shined to dry the track in time for both qualifying and the race.
During qualifying, and with the track surface drying rapidly, the series organizers decided to cancel ‘Superpole’ due to insufficient dry track time for all the competitors, so an open practice session of 45 minutes was provided for the teams to get the bikes ready to race.
Having had the benefit of a few dry laps on the Thursday morning, both Ferreira and McCormick jumped to the top of the time sheets early in the qualifying session. McCormick was comfortably sitting in first position after a few laps so he waited to see what the others competitors could do against his time. As the gap closed from 1.2 seconds to 0.9 then 0.8 and finally 0.5 seconds, McCormick went back out and claimed pole position with a time that was 1.2 seconds better than defending champion Jordan Szoke from Team Kawasaki. McCormick’s teammate, Michael Ferreira also posted his best time on the last lap of the session, securing the final spot on the front row and ensuring that there would be three RRs on the front row to start the race. In a starting field of 18 superbikes on race day, BMW was well represented with a total of six RRs — with three of them starting from the front row.
As the start lights went out and the field charged into the first corner, it was McCormick who grabbed the lead. Ferreira looked to get boxed in on the run into the first corner, however he made an aggressive move to the inside of corner two and settled in behind his teammate. By lap 3, McCormick was pulling away with a comfortable lead and a five-rider fight was raging for second position between Ferreira, defending champion Jordan Szoke, last year’s championship runner-up Andrew Nelson on a BMW, Ferreira’s former teammate Francis Martin on his privateer BMW, and the Suzuki of Alex Welsh.
Over the next 15 laps the positions were swapped each lap with no one rider holding an advantage for very long. As the race developed, Szoke began to struggle to maintain rear grip, allowing Nelson to charge into second position, followed by Martin. As the final lap began, Martin crashed unhurt defending his podium position. This moved Szoke to third with Ferreira eyeing a last corner attack on the final podium position. Looking to slip up the inside in the final corner, Szoke slammed the door shut on Ferreira, causing him to take avoiding action, which allowed Welsh to take advantage and move into fourth spot at the finish line.
At the end of the race, McCormick had built a 15-second lead on his RR before backing off and cruising to victory with over a 10-second gap over second place. Nelson held on to second spot on his RR and third place went to Szoke on his Kawasaki ZX-10R.
History was made at Circuit ICAR during round one of the Canadian Superbike Championship as it was the first ever Canadian Superbike pole position for the RR; the first time a BMW rider set a Canadian Superbike lap record; the first ever Canadian Superbike win for the RR and the first time a BMW rider led every lap in a Canadian Superbike Race.
Rounds two and three will be held at Shannonville Motorsport Park on July 1, where the team will continue their quest to win the Canadian Superbike Championship.