Superbike Preview: Young carries championship lead into round two at Grand Bend

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The second round of the Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship will roll onto beautiful Lake Huron this weekend, as Ben Young looks to extend his early advantage in the feature Superbike class at the Grand Bend Motorplex, June 7-9, presented by Southwest Marine & Powersport.

The three-time Canada Cup champion and two-time defending title winner showed just why he owns the #1 plate at the Shannonville opener, conquering both races and turning in an especially dominant showing in race two to open up a ten-point gap atop the GP Bikes Pro Superbike standings.

Young was certainly tested in race one, dropping back as low as fourth before having to claw his way through on rivals Trevor Dion, Jordan Szoke, and finally Sam Guerin, but his race two victory was a much bigger statement as he cruised to a comfortable 17-second win.

Looking at Young’s history around Grand Bend, it’s hard not to expect more of the same this weekend.

The Van Dolder’s Home Team BMW rider nearly scored his first career CSBK victory at the circuit, finishing second to Szoke in a nail-biter in 2018 before taking his maiden win later that year, and he has been virtually unbeatable at the circuit ever since with three wins in the last four races at Grand Bend.

As if that isn’t an impressive enough streak in itself, Young’s only loss over that span came in a wet race two last season after he crashed on the warmup lap, allowing rival Alex Dumas to end his run of success at the venue.

Bad luck aside, Young won’t have to deal with Dumas this time around, putting a big ask on the likes of Szoke, Guerin, and Dion, amongst others.

Should any misfortune come back around for the reigning champ, however, Szoke could be the one most prepared to return to the top step of the box.

The 14-time champion admittedly hasn’t been as strong around Grand Bend as nearly every other track in his career, but he is still a former winner at the circuit and has looked rejuvenated in 2024, showing signs of his old self aboard the CKM Kawasaki as he continues to recover from his 2022 injuries.

Guerin, meanwhile, could be in for a crucial weekend as he enters as the closest challenger to Young behind a pair of runner-up finishes in the opener.

The EFC Group BMW star has been solid but unspectacular in his career at Grand Bend, finishing inside the top-five in all four appearances but taking only a single podium (third) in race two last season. However, Guerin did look like a stronger version of himself than ever before at round one, something that will be put to the test in round two as he tries to keep his title hopes in good shape.

As for Szoke’s former teammate Dion, the local rider left SMP with a warning shot to his competitors, saying he’s “looking forward to being on top” in Grand Bend, and it may not be far-fetched to think he can back it up this weekend.

The Economy Lube Ducati star has had his fair share of technical struggles aboard the V4R Panigale – to the point where he was forced to jump aboard a BMW in race two at Shannonville – but he is a former pole-sitter at Grand Bend and knows the track well from his days with the SOAR regional series.

Local favourite David MacKay (82) enjoyed a strong debut for Honda in round one, and will look to replicate it at his home track in Grand Bend this weekend. [Photo: Rob O’Brien/CSBK].

Dion won’t be the only local star to contend with, however, as David MacKay will put his extensive track knowledge to good use in his second weekend aboard the ODH Snow City Cycle Honda.

The reigning Pro Sport Bike champion has more laps around Grand Bend than anyone else on the grid, and while only some of them have come aboard the new machine, his performances at Shannonville proved he won’t need much of a teething period.

There’s a strong chance MacKay won’t be the only frontrunning Honda either, as fellow SOAR regular Chris Pletsch is expected to make a return appearance after a spectacular one-off at his home track last season.

Pletsch made his national Superbike debut and was an instant contender, qualifying second to Young and finishing second in race two aboard his Stratford Cycle Centre Honda, and there’s little reason to doubt he can be back in the podium mix this weekend.

Like MacKay, another former Sport Bike champion will enter the Motorplex with bigger expectations, as Sebastien Tremblay will hope to replicate his strong opener for Turcotte Performance Suzuki.

Tremblay is at a slight disadvantage aboard his lesser-powered GSX-R750, the same machine he pilots in the Sport Bike ranks, but that should have less of an impact around the tight, narrow first half of the Grand Bend layout as he tries to pick up valuable points for Suzuki.

The two weeks of rest after round one will be a welcome boost for rookie Connor Campbell, after fighting through rib injuries to take a pair of top-ten finishes at Shannonville.

The B&T MacFarlane/Kubota Kawasaki rider dealt with injury and mechanical issues as a Sport Bike rider at Grand Bend last season, but will hope for a healthier return in 2024 as he tries to extend his lead in the Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year award standings.

Campbell’s form could also be crucial for Kawasaki in the Constructors Standings, as he and “satellite teammate” Szoke look to trim their 42-point deficit to BMW in round two.

A perfect weekend for Young and Guerin (taking the maximum 45 points in each race) has already put the pressure on Kawasaki and the rest of the field, and a repeat performance for the pair could see them extend an insurmountable gap by round three.

Kawasaki will be equally as vulnerable to Ducati, Honda, and Yamaha behind them, however, especially with Honda receiving some vital reinforcements in the form of Pletsch.

The weekend schedule for the GP Bikes Pro Superbike class, as well as the other six national classes, can be found on the series’ official website.

Main picture: Ben Young (1) will take a slight championship advantage into Grand Bend over BMW-mate Sam Guerin (2), after winning both races from Guerin in round one. [Photo: Rob O’Brien/CSBK].

SOURCE: CSBK

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