A number of young up-and-comers are gaining the headlines in this year’s Parts Canada Superbike Championship, but one of the stalwarts of Canadian motorcycle road racing refuses to give up the spotlight.
While the likes of 17-year-old series leader Brett McCormick and rookie star Royce McLean continue to turn heads, six-time Canadian Superbike champion Steve Crevier is enjoying a career renaissance this season with the Deeley Racing Powered By Buell factory team.
Riding the squad’s Buell 1125R the 43-year-old from Maple Ridge, B.C. sits fifth in the Parts Canada Superbike Championship standings and sixth in Yoshimura Pro Sport Bike points heading into this weekend’s midseason doubleheader at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ont., the fourth and fifth rounds of the seven-race national tour.
“I’m feeling good. I’m happy with what we’ve achieved but I think we’re still capable of doing more,” says the winner of 26 national Superbike races, second all time. “We’re consistent and we’re improving. We’re refining what we’ve got and we’re getting closer and closer all the time.”
The twin-cylinder Buell, which made its debut with Crevier last season, is at a horsepower disadvantage to the more conventional four- cylinder bikes in the Superbike class. But Crevier gave the 1125R a spectacular racing debut in the opening round of the 2008 Parts Canada Superbike season at Calabogie Motorsports Park, finishing third.
That was the highpoint in a season of growing pains, however, and Crevier eventually placed seventh in the Superbike standings.
Crevier opened the 2009 season with a seventh place finish at the Calabogie season opener, but he feels the team turned a corner at the following event at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Que. There Crevier put on a charge in the race to finish fourth, and likely would have got up to third with a couple of more laps available.
“I was really struggling in Quebec,” he recalls. “I was tired on Saturday. I was frustrated; I was just trying too hard. But my guys didn’t give up. We changed our plan for the race. We knew tire wear was going to be an issue so we put an endurance package together, and it paid off.
“That race kind of made me rethink everything. I go into every race, well, you’ve got to expect to win. But when your crew doesn’t give up on you it makes all the difference. After that race I felt like, ‘Hey, we can do this.’”
Crevier followed that breakthrough with a sixth place result in round three of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship at Calgary’s Race City Motorsport Park, a venue that with its long drag strip front straight was unlikely to favor the Buell.
Crevier has gone from strength to strength in the Sport Bike class.
After sixth place finishes at Calabogie and ICAR he placed the Buell on the front row at Race City and scored a fifth place finish after being in the thick of the podium battle.
“I’m a lot more optimistic coming into Mosport,” says Crevier, who has won four middleweight Sport Bike national championships in his storied career. “In the Sport Bike class I think we’ve got a good chance of running up front and getting on the podium.”
What makes Crevier’s performances all the more impressive is the fact that he continues to battle the aches and pains that come with age and his profession. Ironically the worst of those, a pinched nerve in his arm, is not the legacy of the race track but related to a neck injury he suffered in a car accident.
He also struggles with knee problems that date back to a crash at Shannonville Motorsport Park at the start of the 2002 season, just after he had won his record sixth Canadian Superbike crown the previous year.
“I’m not able to train the way I want to train,” explains Crevier, who has had to forsake his extensive dirt bike conditioning for yoga and other less physically punishing pursuits. “It’s a crummy deal and I’m not where I want to be. I love to ride and now I have to ride less. I can’t get around this stuff.
“On the one hand you think that maybe if I take some time off some of this stuff will get better, but for a guy my age, you take a season off and you lose that feeling. It’s not good.”
Nevertheless Crevier still retains the fire that has made him Canada’s most successful motorcycle road racer. And rather than be intimidated by the new young lions like McCormick and 14-year-old McLean, the wily veteran welcomes the challenge.
“Look at how healthy the series is today,” he says. “I’m happy to see a bit of new blood. These kids are coming on strong, and if I see a chance to get on the box I’m going to brag about it as long as I can. Pretty soon I might not be able to keep up with these guys.”
But as long as he can do the job Crevier has no intention of ending his legendary career.
“I’ve said to the Deeley team, let’s let my results dictate my retirement,” Crevier says. “Right now I’m having fun and I’m doing good. If I’m not shining, and it’s looking like it’s just a job to me, then I shouldn’t be in it, I’ve had my time. But until these kids start kicking my butt, I see no reason to give it up.”
The fourth and fifth rounds of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship take place July 17-19 at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ont. For ticket information go to www.mosport.com or call 1-800- 866-1072.