Ummm, It’s Not Me, It’s You? – Lorenzo, Ducati and Honda

Let’s put this awkward break-up in a context that we can relate to here in North America. We will go with a hockey scenario. Take one of the handful of premier players in the NHL, one of the top scorers, the game make or breakers. Now imagine that one of those top guys a third of the way through the season announces that he has signed a contract to play for a new team,  the current Stanley Cup champions,  in the upcoming season. With 55 games left in the current season he announces that he will be playing for a fierce competitor the following year? You have to think that isn’t going to go over so well. The fans wouldn’t be happy, the league wouldn’t be happy, his current teammates wouldn’t be happy, the current team owner wouldn’t be happy. You could draw a circle around everyone everywhere and mark it unhappy. The entire scenario seems so ludicrous as to be unimaginable. But now transfer that scenario into MotoGP racing and it suddenly reality.

Marquez and Lorenzo
Hey not so close, we aren’t team mates yet. Marquez (93) and Lorenzo (99) will be MotoGP team mates in 2019.

At the end of the 2016 MotoGP season Jorge Lorenzo left the Yamaha factory team and scootered his way over to the Ducati factory team. It seemed like a good fit as Lorenzo was only a year removed from winning the third MotoGP championship of his career and Ducati was 9 years removed from their last MotoGP championship. The Ducati race bike was a contender and it now had a past champion aboard. Only good things could come from that pairing. Or so it seemed at the time.

The 2017 MotoGP season didn’t work out that well for either Ducati or Lorenzo as he finished the season in seventh place and only saw the podium three times with one second place and two third places. 2018 seemed to be looking much the same way with the first five races going progressing as such – DNF, 15th, 11th, DNF and 6th. Not hopeful. But on June 3 in the 6th race of the 19 race season, Lorenzo wins on his factory Ducati for the first time.  A couple days later he announces that he will be joining Marq Marquez (reigning and four time champion) at the Repsol Honda team for the 2019 season. To rub salt in a wound somewhere,  Lorenzo goes and wins the next race on the calendar – two in a row… on the Ducati …. which he won’t be riding next year. All this is going to make for a very interesting final 12 twelve races of the season. Lorenzo is still a long way behind Marquez in points but if he manages to keep up the pace and closes the point gap, what then? It  seems to be a situation that was coming together before it all fell apart. But isn’t that the way break-ups often go and there is bound to be some unhappiness ….. let’s draw a circle….

Of course the next question is who replaces Lorenzo at Ducati? Many race fans will be waiting to find out.

The Best Pictures? TrialGP

bou trialgp 2018
Toni Bou going vertical to win his 99th world championship event.

If you were going to argue about where the best motorsport images originate , you have to include Trials high on the list. Trials proves beyond a doubt that speed does not by definition make for excitement. Trials puts every small movement, every balanced foot, every calculated twist of the throttle under a microscope. But that doesn’t make it the so photogenic. Trials competitions – especially those of the TrialsGP – most often take place in beautiful natural settings throughout Europe – forests, mountainsides and meadows filled with both man-made and natural obstacles.  A good location makes for a good picture. Many of those obstacles to the layman seem extraordinarily imposing – which brings us to the second reason that trials makes for such amazing photography. The riders and the machines accomplish things that defy gravity and more importantly, common sense. Take for example this image of Toni Bou. The setting is the mountains of Andorra ( a tiny country in the Pyrenees between Spain and France). The elevation is over 4200 ft. The rock is big, the terrain treacherous and Bou is vertical. In this, the third round of the 2018 TrialGP, Bou won his 99th world championship event which equals the record held by seven time champion Dougie Lampkin.

Bourbon and Harleys – This Isn’t Good

The Iron 1200 falls victim to an aluminium and steel fight.

There is collateral damage being done to all manner of business that weren’t in the original fight. With the USA imposing tariffs on European aluminum and steel, the European Union, the largest trading block in the world, is about to impose retaliatory tariffs on a number of US products. The EU seems to be approaching its tariff strategy by pinpointing products that originate in Republican states. Eschewing entertainment, banking and high tech industries to perhaps avoid the ire of Democrat strongholds in New York and California, the EU is targeting such items as… gasp, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and bourbon, Tennessee whisky and rye whiskey. Some of the big players in the amber bottle business have been sending over big shipments of the hard stuff as to have a stockpile in Europe prior to the tariffs coming into effect. It’s unlikely that Harley-Davidson could make a similar move that would help negate the effects of the upcoming actions which will raise the price of a Harley for potential European customers. Unfortunately motorcycles have been pawns in a variety of trade spats over the years often related to disputes that have nothing to do with our two wheeled passion. It is anyone’s guess as to when and if the tariffs will be lifted.


Planet of the Monkey Bikes

The Monkey bikes are coming to North America – first to the USA and then possibly to Canada. It makes sense as these cute little 125cc machines would give the micro segment a little nostalgia cool. Honda already has the GROM in the segment and Kawasaki the Z125. The Monkeys are going to come with ABS for a price of $4199 US.

GS Trophy swag – That’s some fancy stuff

If you were a competitor at the just completed GS Trophy across the wilds of Mongolia, BMW had a departing gift for you. Although you could not take home your GS Trophy-spec R1200GS, you could take home the radiator shroud. BMW made individualized grills for each of the competitors featuring their names and upon completion of the event each rider could take their shroud home with them. That’s all very nice but the fascinating part is how BMW made the pieces – they were laser printed using aluminum powder which was fused into solid metal by high power lasers. The process was basically toeless and required only computer programming to make it happen.

csbk round 2 2018

Szoke Holds Off Competitors in Round 2 of CSBK


csbk round 2 2018

Grand Bend, ON –  June 10, 2018  –  It wasn’t easy, but three-time defending champion Jordan Szoke added another track to his win list on Sunday at round two of the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship from the Grand Bend Motorplex.

Szoke, searching for his record 13th Mopar Pro Superbike title in 2018, started his Mopar Express Lane BMW Motorrad S1000RR from second – a rare occurrence in itself – after Collingwood, ON’s Ben Young secured pole position earlier in the day.

However, Szoke managed to snatch the holeshot from the Scot-Build BMW of Young, and seemed poised to stretch his lead before quickly being reeled back in by a group consisting of Young, St. Isidore, QC’s Samuel Trepanier, and local fan-favourite Steven Nickerson out of Hamilton, ON.

The four riders ran in unison for the early parts of the race before the Honda CBR1000RR of Nickerson eventually dropped back, later crashing out around the midway point in what was an unfortunate result for the youngster. The trio of Szoke, Young, and Trepanier continued to run together at the front but was later trimmed to a two-horse race after the Blysk Racing BMW of Trepanier got held up by lapped traffic.  csbk round 2 2018

Young had appeared to be on his way to his first career Pro Superbike victory, passing Szoke for the lead late in the race and continuing to maintain the top spot right up until the final lap. However, the more experienced Szoke was able to maneuver his way through more lapped traffic in the final corner, pulling off a daring pass on Young to win his second consecutive race to begin the season.

“I knew this track was strong for Ben, so at first I just wanted to ride smart and slow the pace,” Szoke said. “But he got by me and I was able to hang on, then in the last corner he hesitated and I was able to slip it by him.”

Szoke rolled the dice by electing to start the race on a brand new S1000RR, one that he rode for the first time on the National circuit during Dalton Timmis Insurance SuperPole on Sunday morning, though it evidently payed off after he and his crew “made the necessary changes.”

The Lynden, ON veteran was also quick to praise his younger counterparts, saying Young was “phenomenal” and that he and Trepanier, among others, “are the future” of CSBK racing.

As for Young, it was a bittersweet result for the 2016 Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year, as he picked up a valuable second-place finish but once again fell just short on his quest to find the top of the box.

“We didn’t really enter with a strategy, we just tried to roll with it and see how the race went, but then I got slowed down by some yellow flags,” Young lamented. “On the last lap I wanted a really good drive [onto the back straightaway] but it was actually one of my worst drives of the race, and then we ran into some lappers and that’s where Jordan got me.”

The former MotoAmerica and British Superbike rider remained optimistic, shifting his focus to the rest of the season ahead.

“We’re in it for the long haul,” Young said. “So it’s good to grab some points for the end of the season, hopefully grab the big trophy at [Canadian Tire Motorsport Park].”

Trepanier, though forced out of the battle for first, managed to secure a strong third-place finish and was all smiles after the race.

“It was amazing battling with them at the front, we’re really happy to be here,” Trepanier said. “We had a really good qualifying session, but hopefully next year I can be standing on the top spot in the race.”

The podium finishers were followed by Beaconsfield, QC’s Michael Leon, who turned in another strong result in fourth aboard his Royal Distributing BMW, and Mississauga, ON’s Trevor Daley, who was the lone non-BMW inside the top five riding aboard his OneSpeed Chop Shop Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja.

The top rookie in the class was once again Lasalle, QC’s Samuel Desmarais in eleventh, who now holds a reasonably comfortable lead in the Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year race heading into the next round at his home track in St. Eustache, QC.

Fans were treated to another exciting race in the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike class, as last year’s championship runner-up Mitch Card won from pole aboard his Fast Company Yamaha YZF-R6. The Ripley, ON rider was involved in a hectic battle with defending champion Tomas Casas and a pair of young local riders in David MacKay (Hamilton, ON) and Will Hornblower (Sarnia, ON) for nearly the entirety of the race.

MacKay, who took his first ever CSBK podium at the season opener in Shannonville, seemed poised to follow that up with his first career victory as he led for a number of laps, but suffered a heartbreaking crash in turn one towards the end of the race. As for Hornblower, the Yamaha rider was battling tire wear towards the end of the race and eventually succumbed to local youngster Dylan Bauer (Breslau, ON), who secured his first ever National podium in third behind Card and the Parts Canada sponsored Yamaha of Casas in what was an all-Yamaha top-four.

“I got a solid start, but the first two laps were pretty greasy,” Card said. “It was unfortunate to see David crash, but after that I just kept my head down and put it on the top of the box.”

The brand new Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike class featured a familiar face up front, as Blackstock, ON teenager Jake LeClair took his fourth consecutive win to open the season as he continues to build a sizable points lead aboard his Yamaha YZF-R3.

Local rider Mike Grass (Pamerston, ON) won an incident-filled Magneti Marelli Amateur Superbike race, outlasting a number of temporary race leaders as he took the victory aboard his Suzuki GSX-R600.

As for the Parts Canada Amateur Sport Bike class, it was another breakout performance for 15-year old phenom Nicolas Meunier out of Verdun, QC, who took his first victory of the season and second consecutive podium as he bolsters his bid for the title heading into round three at his home track.

That event will take place in roughly two weeks, from June 29 – July 1, at the Autodrome St. Eustache just west of Montreal, QC.