Photos by Kimi Walker
The bike was better put together than I was. Two days before we left for St Eustache, Larry at Niagara Race Crafters had found and replaced the foot and hand controls on both sides of my battered bike, replaced the front fairing stay, fixed the wiring and got the fairings patched by SquidSkins in Toronto. The #707 was running, and straight, and ready to race.
Me? Less so. Though a relatively minor injury, my fourth metacarpal on my left hand had a spiral fracture in it that made it painful and awkward just to get my gloves on – let alone ride. Still, armed with new Knox Handroid gloves and a bottle of Tylenol I was determined not to lose any more points than I had to.
St Eustache is a multi-discipline Motorplex, and the road circuit makes use of a NASCAR oval and a dragstrip in its compilation. The final turn has a makeshift curb and straw bale where the apex should be, this is to make sure we don’t aim ourselves directly at the narrow side of the pit wall mid-corner. It’s a daunting track – tight, technical and tough for me to get my head around.
Our goals for the weekend? No crashes. My NRC Racing teammate Rob Lepp has had a strong season with solid pace and no stacks. I’ve had speed, but not consistency, and two crashes.
On Saturday I managed a strong start from second last (ninth) on the grid to sixth by turn one. Rob got by and disappeared into the distance, leaving me to fend off Adolfo Silva for seventh. We battled and I managed to hold him off at the line. It felt almost like a victory for me.
Sunday’s race came under the threat of rain, but thankfully it held off. The morning warm up was a difficult one; I couldn’t quite get my head in the game and the pain in my hand was increasing as the weekend drew on. Come the race I got a disappointingly average start. I was trying to keep pace with Rob and Adolfo when my boot snagged the lever coming onto the front straight. I was trying to shift up but snagged the lever as I moved my foot, and accidentally changed down to third – while already on the limiter in fourth. It took the whole front straight for my gearbox to free itself, and I lost my four-second gap to Kirk Shergold immediately. Kirk passed me soon after, and I simply didn’t have the energy left to reclaim the spot, leaving me in a disappointing ninth.
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Even with that result we’re counting the weekend a success: it’s my first crash-free weekend in four rounds of racing (one last year and three this season), and I feel confident that monkey is now off my back.
Jared Walker and Xavier Paradis shared the wins on the weekend, with Walker taking Race 1 and Paradis stealing Race 2 with a cheeky and late move into the final turn. Amy Szoke scored pole for Saturday and finished fourth behind local Johann Plancque. Much like Walker and Paradis, Szoke and Plancque then swapped spots on Sunday: Szoke third, Plancque fourth. Motocrosser-turned-road-racer Jake Leclair was fifth in both races, and Robert Lepp sixth on both days.
With three weeks until Round 4 at Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia I’ve got time to focus on my physical fitness, heal my hand, and mentally build up a reference from YouTube videos and track maps. The goals in Shubie? Beat my main competitors in the points race, and keep the thing upright.
St Eustache Kawasaki Ninja 300 Series Race 1 Results
St Eustache Kawasaki Ninja 300 Series Race 2 Results