Fun Stuff

Ninja 300 Round Two Report: Hat Trick of Crashes

Sliding across the pavement at 160 km/h is strangely peaceful, almost fun. I had time to contemplate my imminent financial difficulty in the moments before my leathers and boots left the asphalt and pitched into the far more problematic dirt and gravel.

The bike hit first, and began to roll violently. Rocks showered my chest and helmet like I was in the Perseid Meteor Shower, and then I too began to tumble.

When the blur of grass and sky and boots and backside stopped I was on my hands and knees, deep in metre-high grass. I leapt to my feet like a gymnast, two hands in the air, and flashed a double thumbs-up to the marshalls, the commentary box and the crowd, where somewhere my wife and daughter stood.

I was okay, mostly. My ego: not so much.

In my second round of the year, and my third-ever road racing weekend, I had my third crash. A 100 percent record of throwing it down the road. This time through a 150 km/h wide-open throttle left-hander with what I came to learn was a fairly hazardous bump. The video shows it better than I can describe.

And yet the weekend was, a success, all things considered.

In my first few rounds aboard the Kawasaki Ninja 300 I began the weekend a long, long way off the pace. This weekend I started out in the mid-pack and stayed there. As times came down through the weekend, mine did too, and
I started to move further forward in terms of raw pace.

I again entered two classes, the RACE Regional Lightweight Production Class and the CSBK National Kawasaki Ninja 300 class.

In qualifying I set a 1m19 to qualify fourth out of eight riders for Lightweight Production, but couldn’t match that in Ninja 300 and qualified a disappointing 8th out of 9 riders.

Saturday: Lightweight Production

My start in race one was a good one and I moved from fourth to second before being passed by Cameron Walker down the inside of turn three. Mike Raniowski hunted me down soon after, with Kirk Shergold edging by late in the race as fatigue set in.

Race winner Nicolas Meunier and second-placed Jake Leclair were running 1m16s to the rest of us doing 1m18-1m20s – leaving all of us scratching our heads. Tiny teenagers with no fear and an abundance of talent in a small-bike spec class can do amazing things, as it turns out.

Saturday: Ninja 300

There is a clear demarcation in the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 300 championship. At the front, aliens of freakish abilities set blistering times, while the second-tier riders behind battle for the scraps. But even the best of them can be pushed past their limit.

The pace set by Quebecoise Xavier Paradis saw Jared Walker and Jake Leclair crash out of podium contention, while Amy Szoke rode to a rock-solid second. Both Walker and Leclair rejoined, but finished down in the order.

Those two crashes left me in third place, but I was under fire.

Adolfo Silva passed me in the draft down the back straight, and I got back immediately into turn one. He took me again at the end of the back straight and I got by one more time into turn one, but on the next lap he passed me earlier and stronger, and I couldn't hang with him. A lap after that, Kirk Shergold got by, dropping me to fifth. Kirk eventually pipped Adolfo for a well-deserved podium behind Amy Szoke and Xavier Paradis.

The takeaway? My pace was up, but my physical fitness is lacking. My times dropped off through the race allowing those behind to catch and pass. I dared to dream of a legitimate top five, as opposed to this one which was gifted to be my crashes.

Sunday: Lightweight Production

Easily the best race of my career thus far, Sunday morning’s eight-lap lightweight production class saw me start fourth again. Another strong start put me in front of Mike Raniowski, but Cameron Walker soon swept by (this time on the outside) to steal third. For three solid laps I help station at the tail end of that group, even pulling briefly alongside Walker on the run down the back straight.

A miss shift and a mild slide on the fourth lap had me lose touch with the podium fight, and I managed to hold off Raniowski on his 250cc Ninja and maintain fourth. My best result to date, and one I felt chuffed with.

With that fourth under my belt I was pumped for the afternoon’s Ninja 300 race – confident I could turn my pace into a legitimate top-five in the final race of the weekend.

My confidence was ill founded.

Sunday: Ninja 300

In the final race of the weekend I leapt from fifth to third off the line before being swallowed up Jake Leclair and Jared Walker soon after. I stuck with the front runners for a little more than a lap before they gapped me.

That left me in a lonely fifth place, with Kirk Shergold, Adolfo Silva and my NRC Racing stablemate Rob Lepp hunting me down. I knew they were a little way behind, but was haunted by race one, when they’d stalked and overcome me, bumping me off what could have been my first ever podium. I was right to worry - Rob put down a 1m17s lap as he chased Adolfo and Kirk.

My times were strong too, low 1m18s, but I was desperate to pull a gap. I knew the fast left-hander was a flat out corner, and thought I could gain time by cutting across the bump at the apex instead of taking the longer, wide line around it.

My gamble bought me down in bruising fashion.

Later this week I’ll get around to checking out my swollen left hand (the same one I broke in my crash at CTMP last year), and Larry from Niagara Race Crafters will report back on repair process.

Next Round

St Eustache is in one and a half weeks. Leaving precious little time for us to get the plastics, handlebars, rearsets, quickshifter, gear leaver and sundries I now need.

Wish us luck!


RACE Mopar Express Lane Lightweight Production Race One
Pos No. Name Laps Best Tm In Lap Diff Gap
1 12 Nicolas Meunier 10 01:16.5 4    
2 811 Jake Leclair 10 01:16.6 4 0.969 0.969
3 112 Cameron Walker 10 01:18.5 7 30.813 29.844
4 725 Mike Raniowski 10 01:19.4 5 31.701 0.888
5 111 Kirk Shergold 10 01:20.2 8 48.507 16.806
6 707 Jacob Black 10 01:20.8 9 51.488 2.981
7 665 Stanley Moran 9 01:25.4 9 1 Lap 1 Lap
8 43 Guy Caron     0    
Kawasaki Ninja 300 Series Race One Results
Pos No. Name Laps Best Tm In Lap Diff Gap
1 88 Xavier Paradis 12 01:15.9 2    
2 56 Amy Szoke 12 01:17.7 4 19.54 19.54
3 111 Kirk Shergold 12 01:18.2 12 42.694 23.154
4 67 Adolfo Silva 12 01:19.2 10 43.265 0.571
5 707 Jacob Black 12 01:20.1 7 53.39 10.125
6 14 Jared Walker 12 01:15.9 3 01:25.2 31.831
7 53 Robert Lepp 11 01:21.4 3 1 Lap 1 Lap
8 665 Stanley Moran 11 01:25.7 6 1 Lap 35.13
9 811 Jake Leclair 10 01:16.8 2 2 Laps 1 Lap
RACE Mopar Express Lane Lightweight Production Race Two
Pos No. Name Laps Best Tm In Lap Diff Gap
1 12 Nicolas Meunier 8 01:15.3 8    
2 811 Jake Leclair 8 01:15.0 8 0.077 0.077
3 112 Cameron Walker 8 01:16.9 5 10.396 10.319
4 707 Jacob Black 8 01:17.4 2 23.907 13.511
5 725 Mike Raniowski 8 01:18.5 7 24.395 0.488
6 665 Stanley Moran 8 01:24.4 2 01:15.0 50.582
DNF 111 Kirk Shergold 2 01:18.6 2 DNF  
DNS 43 Guy Caron     0 DNS  
Kawasaki Ninja 300 Series Race Two Results
Pos No. Name Laps Best Tm In Lap Diff Gap
1 88 Xavier Paradis 12 01:15.0 8    
2 56 Amy Szoke 12 01:15.7 3 7.028 7.028
3 811 Jake Leclair 12 01:15.8 9 11.163 4.135
4 14 Jared Walker 12 01:15.8 7 15.364 4.201
5 111 Kirk Shergold 12 01:18.6 10 47.627 32.263
6 53 Robert Lepp 12 01:17.5 12 47.855 0.228
7 67 Adolfo Silva 12 01:18.6 9 01:11.6 23.781
8 665 Stanley Moran 11 01:24.3 2 1 Lap 1 Lap
DNF 707 Jacob Black 3 01:18.3 2 DNF