Sport Bike Preview: Tremblay aims to spoil Edmonton homecoming for western stars

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The third round of the Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship will present a rare home opportunity for its western stars this weekend, June 21-23, as the Economy Lube Pro Sport Bike class returns to RAD Torque Raceway for the first time since 2015.

Amongst the local talent will be one man trying desperately to keep them at bay, however, as championship leader Sebastien Tremblay aims to extend his title advantage as he also returns to the Edmonton circuit.

Tremblay is one of the few returnees from that 2015 round, having finished sixth in both Superbike races nine years ago. While he will be making his Sport Bike debut this time around, the 2021 champion will be thankful to have as much prior knowledge as he can get, something that will be hard to come by for his Ontario and Quebec counterparts.

The Turcotte Performance Suzuki rider has won twice and finished as the runner-up twice in four races this season, taking 95 of a possible 108 points through the first two rounds to stretch out a commanding 45-point lead, a gap he will look to manage over the next four rounds to bring home his second Sport Bike title.

Tremblay’s odds will also be boosted by the unfortunate absences of championship runner-up Zoltan Frast and round two winner Trevor Daley, the latter of whom also raced at Edmonton in 2015, leaving a massive difference in track knowledge compared to his usual eastern-Canada foes.

However, his prior resumé at RAD Torque will pale in comparison to the numerous local riders that are expected to be in attendance, some of whom have been contesting the full series and will now look to level the playing field at their own home track.

Leading that charge is expected to be John Laing, who has quickly become a regular frontrunner in the Sport Bike ranks despite making his CSBK debut just last season.

The Vass Performance Kawasaki rider has already amassed one win, two podiums, and five top-five finishes in his 13 career races, and will surely be back at the front in a more familiar setting at Edmonton, only three hours north of his hometown of Cochrane, Alberta.

Joining him in the bracket of local riders is teenage sensation Philip Degama-Blanchet, the youngest pro rider in the national series at just 16 years old.

Leading the local Pro Sport Bike riders into round three will be John Laing (707). Already successful in the class, the Alberta native aims to be fighting for the podium in Edmonton. [Photo: Rob O’Brien / CSBK].

The Calgary native burst onto the scene in round one with a fourth-place finish and could become the youngest winner in Pro Sport Bike history this weekend if he can maximize his home race, surpassing Chris Peris’ mark that has stood since 2004.

While the rest of Tremblay’s rivals will be making their debut trips west, the 2021 champion won’t want to discredit them either, especially pre-season contender Elliot Vieira.

A disastrous round two saw Vieira tumble down the championship order, but the GP Bikes Ducati rider has race-winning potential at virtually every track on the calendar, and it wouldn’t be surprising if RAD Torque is added to that list this weekend as he tries to claw back crucial points.

Vieira will also get a bit of reinforcements in the Ducati stable, as rookie Mavrick Cyr joins the Economy Lube program aboard a V2 Panigale in round three.

The 19-year-old reigning amateur double-champion was rumoured to be making the switch prior to round two before sticking with Rizzin Racing Triumph, but Cyr will now make the move official as he looks to step on a pro podium for the first time in Edmonton.

Another confirmed entry will be Alex Michel, who has battled through a season plagued by mechanical issues (including a pair of engine failures at Grand Bend) but will hope to get things back on track in round three.

The SpeedFactory67 Kawasaki rider showed what he’s capable of at unfamiliar venues with a strong finish at the Daytona 200, and will hope to have better luck underneath him as he tries to climb the leaderboard out west.

The class may see a familiar face return to the grid as well, with reigning Pro Twins champion AJ Van Winkle potentially slated for a national return.

The 17-year-old became the youngest pro champion in CSBK history last season but has yet to return to the national paddock, though he has enjoyed plenty of regional success in British Columbia with the MotoMeccanica Ducati squad.

Also expected to join the weekend are a number of regional stars from the EMRA (Edmonton Motorcycle Roadracing Association) series, headlined by former national entry Justin Knapik.

Knapik last raced with CSBK during that 2015 season, taking a pair of strong Superbike finishes at his home track including a fourth-place result in race two. While the Edmonton native may focus on Superbike again, Knapik has been piloting an Argyll Motorsports Yamaha to great success in the Sport Bike ranks at EMRA rounds and could be a podium threat during the national weekend.

More information for round three of the 2024 CSBK season can be found on the series’ official website.

Main picture: Sebastien Tremblay (24) sits at the top of the Pro Sport Bike championship standings and looks to extend his lead when CSBK returns to Edmonton this weekend for the first time since 2015. [Photo: Rob O’Brien / CSBK].

SOURCE: CSBK

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