Young outlasts Guerin for historic Superbike win at Shannonville

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The 2024 Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship season kicked off in exciting fashion on Saturday, as defending champion Ben Young outdueled rivals Sam Guerin and Jordan Szoke for a sensational victory at Shannonville Motorsport Park, presented by the Fallen Rider Support Team sponsored by Pace Law.

Young began the day with a stellar victory in the Economy Lube Pro Sport Bike class, returning to his familiar ranks in the GP Bikes Pro Superbike category with a chance to become the first double-winner in the same season since Jodi Christie in 2014.

Instead, Young’s title defence got off to a brutal start, as Szoke grabbed the holeshot with Guerin promptly moving into second. Things would get even worse for Young before they got better, as Trevor Dion shunted the three-time Canada Cup champion into fourth on lap two while Szoke and Guerin escaped out front.

The lead duo would begin to stretch out their advantage before Guerin moved into the lead on lap three, seizing the front in turn eight as he continued his quest for a maiden pro national victory.

Young’s comeback would then begin on lap four, moving back past Dion and on the hunt for Szoke, who in return had continued to battle with Guerin. That would set up a hectic three-way fight for the lead on lap six, which waged on for two laps before Young moved through his long-time rival Szoke on lap eight.

Defending CSBK champ and polesitter Ben Young (1) faded back to fourth early in Saturday’s Superbike Race 1 of the weekend, but worked his way back to the front to go on to win over Sam Guerin (2) and Szoke at Shannonville Motorsport Park. [Photo: Rob O’Brien / CSBK].

That would set up the final, decisive battle between Guerin and Young for the middle portion of the race, but Guerin’s impressive defensive effort ultimately caved on lap 13 as Young snatched the lead for the first time and squeezed out a slight advantage, holding firm the rest of the way for the season-opening victory.

The comeback was not one many were expecting after Young’s dominant pace on Friday, but the Van Dolder’s Home Team BMW rider chalked it up to a bit of rider error thanks to his double-duty earlier in the Sport Bike class.

“The BMW was phenomenal as always today, but the first couple laps felt a bit strange until I realized it was just the difference between the two bikes, which is completely a mistake of my own,” Young admitted. “It was really cool to battle with Jordan again – a bit of a flashback to some of our races in 2019 – and Sam made it really hard on us in the end, but to lead both championships even for a day feels pretty awesome.”

The result proved to be a historic one for Young in more ways than one, as he also moved out of a tie with Pascal Picotte and into sole possession of third all-time with his 17th career Superbike victory.

“I knew we were tied coming in, but to pass a legend like that is pretty cool,” Young said, though he remains a far way off Szoke’s record of 78 career wins. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not ever passing Jordan’s record! That one’s safe, but we’ll keep this going as long as we can.”

As for Guerin, it’s yet another runner-up finish for the EFC Group BMW rider as he chases win number one, but a result that will likely turn some heads after making things very difficult on his BMW counterpart.

“It took us a couple laps to get going, but I saw these two were still figuring some things out, so I thought ‘okay, let’s go for it,’” Guerin said. “I held on past the mid-race point which is a huge step, but Ben had the better pace at the end so I decided to keep things on-track and be fine with second today.”

Saturday’s Superbike podium at Shannonville Motorsport Park with Race 1 winner Ben Young (center), second place Sam Guerin (left) and Jordan Szoke in third. [Photo: Rob O’Brien / CSBK].

The season opener was also a welcome return for Szoke to the front, after he grabbed the holeshot and paced the Superbike field in the early going. The Canadian Kawasaki Motors rider is still recovering from his serious injuries in 2022, but Saturday’s effort was proof that a return to full fitness could be a problem for the BMW rivals in front of him.

“I was hoping to hang on a little longer, but once Sam got by me and Ben had caught up it was only a matter of time. I’m still getting my strength back, but I feel better and better every day,” said the 14-time champion. “We’re still settling in here, so to bring it home for the team and for Kawasaki is huge.”

As for Dion, it was a tale of two halves in a race where he briefly battled with Young at the front, only to then slip back to a distant fourth at the finish. The Economy Lube Ducati rider is still gaining familiarity with his new machine after the late switch in 2023, but will hope to replicate more of his early-race pace on Sunday and close the gap to the lead trio.

Rounding out the top-five on Sunday was Superbike debutant David MacKay, who made major progress on his Snow City Cycle Honda. The reigning Sport Bike champion flashed his best pace of the weekend and began to reel in Dion in the late stages, something he will hope to carry into race two on Sunday.

Sebastien Tremblay would make a late charge of his own to climb to sixth, a strong result for the Turcotte Performance Suzuki rider as he marked five different manufacturers inside the top-six spots on Saturday.

Full results from the day’s action, including the schedule for Sunday’s racing, can be found on the series’ official website at CSBK.ca.

Main picture: The first race of the 2024 CSBK season didn’t disappoint, with 14-time champion Jordan Szoke (101) getting a great launch from second on the grid to lead the opening laps of Saturday’s 20-lap Superbike feature at Shannonville Motorsport Park. [Photo: Rob O’Brien / CSBK].

SOURCE: CSBK

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