From a distance, the results from the opening weekend of Bridgestone CSBK series at Shannonville Motorsport Park were as expected. In the GP Bikes Pro Superbike Feature class, Alex Dumas leads the standings with a pair of wins, while Ben Young won the BS Battery Pole Award and netted a conservative second in the wet opener. The pair sit atop the 2023 points standings, Dumas first with 57 and Young next at 34 points.
Dumas joined the CSBK tour as a teen-ager in 2021, and since then he and Young have controlled most of the action. Newly purple thanks to sponsor Purple Skull Brewing, the Liqui Moly/FAST Riding School Suzuki pilot was the story of Shannonville – his debut at the circuit where he works for Martin Hamel’s FAST School.
Going into the opening weekend, it seemed that Dumas and veteran crew chief Patrice Goyette were less certain of their set-up choices involving the new CSBK spec rubber from Bridgestone. In Qualifying, Young didn’t run much with his new machine, setting a top time early. Dumas put in more laps, and wound up second, .3 of a second back.
The initial speculation regarding the one-lap pace of the durable Bridgestone slicks was clarified by Young, who earned the opening Pole with a lap at 1:04.7 on his Van Dolder’s Home Team BMW, slightly under his 2019 Pole position lap.
The big story from Q was the return of Jordan Szoke for LDS Consultants Kawasaki, back from a string of injuries and medical issues. Unable to turn many laps at a time, Szoke earned third on the grid, even though he fell late in the crucial second session.
On Saturday, the cold and wet conditions meant that Bridgestone’s rain rubber would eliminate one topic of discussion! In the warm-up, Trevor Daley’s One Speed Suzuki was quickest, and many series insiders picked the self described “wild child” to finally break through for his first Superbike victory.
Instead, Daley fell at the start, forcing a restart. Next Dumas got into an entertaining battle for first with Sam Guerin on the EFC Group BMW. The popular Guerin is overdue for success and came to fame battling Szoke in the rain at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park back in the COVID summer of 2020.
Unfortunately, Szoke wouldn’t be part of this battle – he fell in turn one, running in third. Fortunately unhurt, Szoke was despondent, but things would improve shortly.
Up front, Guerin got clear for first and Dumas seemed settled into a safe second, before Guerin got flicked from his Steve Beattie-tuned BeeMm heading onto the back straight on lap ten of eighteen. The race was now all Dumas up front, with Young (on last year’s title winning BMW) a safe second and not likely to take many risks.
The risk taking came in the fight for third, where Tomas Casas on the Parts Canada Yamaha YZF-R1 was fighting with roughed-up re-started Daley on his hastily repaired GSX-R1000. Casas got the spot, Daley earning a tough fourth.
The wet pace was not so far from the dry laps, Dumas quickest at 1:12.9 in far from ideal conditions.
Sunday was expected to be a straight Dumas vs Young fight in the dry, and it started out that way. Dumas led from the start, Szoke in second, Young moving up from a bad launch. Then at the end of lap four, as Young pressured Dumas at the point, the reigning Champ had to pit – a very unusual occurrence in CSBK.
It turned out that Young’s tail section had come loose, and as he cruised into his pit stall, he managed to kick the rear bodywork from the bike. Moments later, he returned to the track in eighth, with a far from ideal seating position!
Up front, Dumas briefly diced with Guerin, then pulled clear for his second win of the weekend. Guerin netted second, his first career podium result on a dry track, and might finally be getting into a rhythm after two seasons of endless issues.
Third for Szoke was also a much-needed tonic for a troubled Kawasaki program – his new tram-mate, Trevor Dion, missed the weekend after a fall in Thursday testing. Dion aims to return from a right (throttle and brake) hand injury in time for his home race at Grand Bend next month.
Once again, victor Dumas set the fastest lap of the race at 1:05.3, luckless Young next at 1:05.8 in the few laps when his bike was intact. Daley earned fourth, this time ahead of Casas, and also set the third best lap of the race at 1:06.2 for Suzuki.
Will it be Casas, Guerin or Daley who manages to earn their career’s first Superbike win soonest? Getting into the mix with Dumas and Young will be a challenge, and a story line to follow.
- From Colin Fraser