photos by Kimi Walker and Evan Williams
“Oh-oh...” my decision to try and follow Kawasaki Ninja 300 Series ace Jared Walker into turn one at alien speed was a bad one. I could feel the front sliding, then the back, but I opened my shoulder to the corner, looked down the hill and got my weight forward and low – somehow, I managed to get the little Ninja around the corner, though at a greatly diminished pace.
The bikes are forgiving, but it’s fair to say that Atlantic Motorsport Park is not. The track layout is excellent. Undulations, massive, multi-story elevation changes and a rhythmic technicality that means you’re never not in a corner – the Shubenacadie, NS track is a credit to the designer.
It’s also bearing the ravages of East-Coast winters, car meets and time, which means the track is bumpy, and each corner represents its own challenges. Get off the track, and things get ugly in a big hurry.
My personal challenges were there too, my regular crew chief, Larry, and my NRC Racing teammate Rob Lepp, weren’t there. I managed to bum some paddock space with Amateur Superbike competitor Aaron Burns, alongside Adolfo Silva and the Walker family.
Goals for the weekend were simple: Nurse my still-healing left hand, but improve on the disappointing result of the St Eustache round. In short: Beat Adolfo and Kirk Shergold and try and close the now-massive points gap to them.
The foil for my plan was that Kirk was fast – really fast – right out of the gate. Both he and Adolfo had extra track time (they were able to do the Thursday practice day and I wasn’t) but that wasn’t the reason – Kirk was just plain good at Shubenacadie.
Up the front, a whole host of super-fast locals had rocked up to show the regulars how it’s done, and they were mixing it up right through the pack. Jared Walker and points leader Xavier Paradis went bar-to-bar, literally, in both races, with Walker coming out on top in both. Nova Scotian Patrick Pelletier was third in both races.
Kawasaki Ninja 300 Series Race 1:
After qualifying 10th my start in race one was strong enough to leap me up to eighth ahead of Lonnie Deline and Kirk Shergold, who dropped back behind Adolfo. Lonnie and I were locked together for the opening laps but he pulled away when I struggled to get by a lapped rider. Nicolas Meunier crashed out at turn two and was uninjured, but unable to rejoin, leaving me in eighth place. Over my shoulder I could see Kirk coming, he’d passed Adolfo and was reining me in by about a half second a lap. A few micro-mistakes closed the gap further until I reminded myself to “race the track”.
Head down and bum up, I managed to hold off Kirk by the skin of my teeth and remain eighth – one more lap and things might have been different.
Atlantic Roadracing League Light Weight Super Sport Race 1:
I entered the regional race as well, keen to maximize my track time after posting lowly 1m31s laps in opening practice. A full 10 seconds off the pace the leaders were then setting. In the Atlantic Roadracing League lightweight production class, a heavily modified Yamaha R3 piloted by Richard Thompson dominates. His 1m17s lap times were a class above the rest of the field.
Originally scheduled for Saturday, a spate of red flags for serious crashes meant our race was pushed to Sunday morning.
After qualifying 15th of 22 riders I again got a good start, and spent the opening laps letting Lonnie Deline show me the way around the track, our times dipped into the 1m23s bracket until he was forced to pit on the third lap. My lack of race experience showed itself and I lost a lot of time trying to figure out what was happening as Lonnie slowed and pulled off, so we lost touch with the group ahead.
My hands were full though, as local stalwart Mark Wilson hounded me for all 10 laps. He passed me around the outside of turn one, only for me to get back up the inside at two. A few laps later he passed me on the way into two, only for me to get the cut-back and power by on the exit – the fans were appreciative, and after 10 laps I managed to sneak home in ninth.
Times were down, confidence up, heading into the final race of the weekend.
Kawasaki Ninja 300 Series Race 2:
With my record of starts this season, starting eighth in race two should have meant being sixth or seventh heading into turn one - but it didn’t. Adolfo Silva got a blinder, and passed me off the line, with Lonnie latched on behind.
Ahead, the front runners disappeared, and Lonnie scythed by me into turn two on the third lap. Adolfo and I were close, with me showing my wheel lap after lap until I finally made a pass stick into the uphill left hander at two. My joy was short lived, as I immediately ran wide into turn four – really wide. I pulled the bike back in time to make the turn, but only just and had to chase Adolfo back down. For three more laps I hounded him, until finally making it through on the penultimate lap, this time holding on for a credible ninth. Again, to the delight of the crowd.
Poor Kirk blew a fuse on the warm-up lap, and was a DNS for the race, which means he and Adolfo are now tied on points. Thanks to my own DNF and a poor showing at Shannonville I’m now 30 points back from those two. If I was to overtake them I’d need to finish top five in both races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and have them finish lower than 11th. It’s a very big ask, and frankly, is probably an insurmountable gap in this short a season.
The final round of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 300 Series will run with the Canadian Superbike Championship Double-Header weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, August 18-20.
Results: Kawasaki Ninja 300 Series Race 1:
|1||14||Jared Walker||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:19.3|
|2||88||Xavier Paradis||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:19.5||0.014|
|3||41||Patrick Pelletier||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:19.5||2.456|
|4||56||Scott Alexander||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:19.9||0.272|
|5||74||Johann Plancque||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:21.9||22.042|
|6||11||Lonnie Deline||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:22.3||8.089|
|7||811||Jake Leclair||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:22.7||0.172|
|8||707||Jacob Black||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:25.2||29.512|
|9||111||Kirk Shergold||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:24.2||0.17|
|10||67||Adolfo Silva||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:26.7||17.162|
|11||196||Kristin Whitehead||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:28.2||1 Lap|
|12||665||Stanley Moran||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:29.0||6.14|
|13||671||Andrea Smith||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:30.7||5.329|
|DNF||12||Nicolas Meunier||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:21.0|
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Results: Atlantic Roadracing League Light Weight Super Sport Race 1:
|2||9||Gary McKinnon||Kawasaki||Ninja 250||01:18.8||12.054|
|3||74||Johann Plancque||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:21.2||26.447|
|4||34||Mark Goodwin||Kawasaki||Ninja 250||01:19.8||0.42|
|6||12||Nicolas Meunier||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:23.4||18.213|
|7||111||Kirk Shergold||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:23.2||0.38|
|8||88||Derek Nheiley||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:23.4||0.377|
|9||707||Jacob Black||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:23.8||18.972|
|10||55||Mark Willson||Kawasaki||Ninja 250||01:23.9||0.945|
|12||67||Adolf Silva||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:25.8||1 Lap|
|13||29||Chalena Biggar||Kawasaki||Ninja 250||01:26.0||11.426|
|14||196||Kristin Whitehead||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:26.6||0.876|
|15||73||Bob Eastwood||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:28.2||7.109|
|16||665||Stanley Moran||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:27.4||01:00.5|
|DNF||101||Avery Hart||Kawasaki||Ninja 250||01:19.3|
|DNF||11||Lonnie Deline||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:23.9|
|DNS||14||Jared Walker||Kawasaki||Ninja 300|
|DNS||56||Scott Alexander||Kawasaki||Ninja 300|
|DNS||811||Jake Leclair||Kawasaki||Ninja 300|
Results: Kawasaki Ninja 300 Series Race 2:
|1||14||Jared Walker||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||0.000923|
|2||88||Xavier Paradis||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:20.0||0.321|
|3||41||Patrick Pelletier||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:20.1||0.072|
|4||56||Scott Alexander||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:20.3||0.165|
|5||811||Jake Leclair||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:21.8||1.584|
|6||74||Johann Plancque||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:22.1||0.28|
|7||12||Nicolas Meunier||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:22.2||0.073|
|8||11||Lonnie Deline||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:23.0||0.844|
|9||111||Kirk Shergold||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:24.1||1.049|
|10||707||Jacob Black||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:26.0||1.922|
|11||67||Adolfo Silva||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:26.7||0.648|
|12||196||Kristin Whitehead||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:26.9||0.216|
|13||665||Stanley Moran||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:29.3||2.377|
|14||671||Andrea Smith||Kawasaki||Ninja 300||01:32.4||3.136|