It took a long time and many bizarre twists and turns to get here, but Ben Young is back atop the Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship.
The reigning champion saw his hopes of a successful title defence increase dramatically on Friday, conquering race one of the season-ending tripleheader at Shannonville Motorsport Park after former points leader Alex Dumas crashed out.
Neither rider got off the line particularly well, as Sam Guerin grabbed the holeshot and paced a group of four early in the opening lap, with Dumas chasing and Young fending off Jordan Szoke for third.
Dumas attempted to lunge down the inside of Guerin in the exit of turn four but was quickly denied, a move that may have compromised the 2021 champion as he would ultimately crash out just one turn later, seeing his championship grasp completely evaporate in only half a lap.
That would promote Young to second but only for a short while, as the Van Dolder’s Home Team BMW rider quickly chased down Guerin and made a move for the lead just prior to the end of lap one, hoping to avoid handing a lap led bonus to anyone else.
That opening move would prove to be the decisive one, as Young never looked back en route to his fourth consecutive victory. It was hardly comfortable, though, as he faced a brief but stiff challenge from one of his former long-time rivals.
After Guerin made a costly mistake to allow Szoke into second, running too deep off the back-straight and falling as low as sixth, Szoke began to hunt down Young as he tried to reel in his first victory of the year.
Young would promptly respond with his best laps of the race, though, cruising to a 15th career win to move within one of Pascal Picotte for third on the all-time win list – and more importantly, extend a 23-point championship lead after Dumas sat trackside.
“I’m glad to see Alex is okay. It’s a bummer that’s how it played out, but it’s super awesome for us to finally take over the points lead,” Young said. “But it’s not over yet, this could just as easily swing back in Alex’s favour. We just got to keep chipping away at it, and hopefully continue up here this weekend.”
The runner-up finish marked a season-best result for Szoke, and while it was aided by mistakes from Dumas and Guerin, it was also the most encouraging performance of the 14-time champion’s season as he briefly looked to be reeling in the red-hot Young.
“Qualifying didn’t really go as we hoped, and then once we got in a bit of a groove Ben was just gone out front,” Szoke said. “I was with him for a while, but once he started to pull away, I just rolled out of it a bit. We haven’t had a lot of podiums this year, so it’s nice to give the team something to cheer about.”
Another team that had plenty to cheer about was the all-new Economy Lube and Tire/LDS Consultants Ducati program, as Trevor Dion fought through the early chaos to take a spectacular third in his debut aboard the V4 Panigale.
The rookie was matching Szoke’s pace by the end of the race as he seemed to find a groove aboard the new machine, scoring Ducati’s first Superbike podium since 1993 while also climbing further into the Brooklin Cycle Racing Prom Rookie of the Year mix.
“I’m speechless! It’s our first weekend on the new bike, and it’s been a tough year at times, but we slowly and steadily found some real pace at the end,” Dion said. “Just sitting sixth after qualifying had me excited, so I’m really fortunate to be up here and I can’t thank the team enough for making it possible on such short notice.”
While Dion and Szoke each delivered incredible performances worthy of podiums on Friday, it will be hard for Guerin not to wonder how different it could have looked if not for his crucial mistake.
The EFC Group BMW rider did manage to recover from sixth to fourth, picking up 13 points for himself and crucially his manufacturer, but a second-place finish could have put him within striking distance of Dumas for the runner-up spot in the championship.
The most heroic performance of the day would go to Trevor Daley, however, who managed to return from his round four absence and bring home fifth despite still riding with a broken femur.
The OneSpeed Suzuki rider briefly ran fourth and managed to fend off Guerin for a few laps, salvaging crucial points in the Constructors Championship to keep Suzuki’s hopes alive entering the penultimate race of the year.
Jordan Royds would continue his consistent breakthrough year with a sixth-place finish, keeping his IBEW BMW in the same spot in the championship order and crucially taking points off the next Suzuki finisher, Sebastien Tremblay in seventh.
That would be one spot clear of Connor Campbell, who wound up with a remarkable eighth-place finish in his first-ever day aboard the second Canadian Kawasaki, as the B&T MacFarlane/Kubota rookie adjusted quickly to the Superbike ranks as Szoke’s newest teammate.
He would be the third rookie to grace the top-ten, one spot ahead of Paul Macdonell who overcame a mistake of his own to salvage a crucial ninth for the Acme Motorsports Yamaha team, keeping himself within two points of the Rookie of the Year lead and one point ahead of Dion.
That award will still be led by teenager John Fraser, but the RLS Contracting Suzuki rider had a frustrating day after also running wide off the backstraight, with Phillip Leckie splitting the two first-year riders in tenth aboard his SCM/Tanians BMW.
Young will now try to extend his championship lead even further – or perhaps even outright clinch a third Canada Cup – in race two on Saturday at SMP, while BMW attempt to do the same to close out the 2023 campaign.
For more information on the Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship, visit www.csbk.ca.
Main picture: Ben Young (1) took another leap in the Bridgestone CSBK championship on Friday at Shannonville Motorsport Park, winning the first of three Superbike races on the weekend after his main title contender Alex Dumas crashed on the opening lap. Jordan Szoke (101) finished second. Photo credit: Rob O’Brien / CSBK.
Source: Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship