“It was my first time on a stock, street bike,” confessed Ben Young of his recent trip to Almeria in Spain to join BMW’s world media event for the launch of latest S 1000 RR. “With everything stock, even the gearing, it does feel a little different from our race bikes.
“It’s tricky to know how fast you can go, since you want to show what you are capable of, but be responsible with the bike too,” continued Young, one of the most level-headed racers around. “I wasn’t there to piss around, but you have to consider all kinds of risks. I needed to remind people that we (Canadian racers) are out there, riding hard.
“I didn’t really learn anything I didn’t already know,” reflects Young. “But it was a nice reassurance in my mind; I know I am quick, but it’s hard to know how you are regarded outside Canada.
“This is the most riding I have done in the off season, and we’re only just getting into the winter,” Young cheerfully confirmed. “After the Bridgestone Test at Grand Bend with the Van Dolder’s Home Team M bike, I was down at Jennings GP with Brad McCrae, and now here in Spain. I really have to thank BMW for taking me along to ride, it helps to get out on a bike regularly in the off-season.”
Press events typically invite a couple of VIPs, sharing the track with media and offering possible quotable observations. For Young, it provided the opportunity to benchmark his efforts against other riders supported by BMW, including the World Endurance squad that was testing at the same venue with their fully built M-models.
“The World Endurance Team had been there for a couple of days, and they were lapping in the 1:35s,” explains Young. “It was day four for them, and they were obviously on real racers with the softest tires. For our last session, we got new Bridgestones, and got into the 1:39s – so after just four sessions, I was very happy with that.”
This event was Young’s first press event on-track for BMW, the two time and reigning Bridgestone CSBK Champ’s potential participation hindered by recent world health issues. These events are important since it provides the current top Canadians with a chance to show his speed in front of a head office audience.
One Canuk to benefit from such exposure in the past is 2011 Canadian Champ and 2012 World Superbiker Brett McCormick of Saskatchewan. McCormick was on hand for Inside Motorcycles in Spain, sharing the circuit with Young and pumping his friend’s tires in the pit lane.
“I think Brett was within a second or so of my times, and we were sometimes on-track together,” says Young, who has developed a strong relationship with the former “kid,” but has never raced him heads up at a National.
“Brett was putting my name out there!” laughs Young of their trip.
“The World Endurance Team Manager came over to meet me, and we had a good chat. I hope I’ve made the next step, but you never know. I need to keep the conversation going, keep in touch with all the BMW teams.”
Day one started with a street rider on the more upright R model, and then the group went on-track for day two with the latest S 1000 RR. Young loved the hillside venue, a popular test track that was once home to Moto2 Champ Tito Rabat. Living nearby, Rabat used to ride Almeria almost daily on a Honda CBR600RR – Moto2 machines were powered by Honda’s 600 engine at the time.
“It was fast, flowing, really you couldn’t find a bump,” considers Young. “I kept all the electronic aids on, except the Traction Control. The stock bike is so good right out of the box. Really, the biggest difference between a completely stock bike and my racer is the electronics, and the adjustability and access I am used to, and having my team to work with me setting it all up.
“Brett showed me how to adjust the TC, and it was an option to turn everything off, but this was not the time to try that. The electronics really help with consistency, and I was happy with the times I was able to produce.
“The bikes were on Bridgestones, so that was a good, easy transition. The bike would move around a fair amount on worn tires, as you’d expect. I was happier with a harder compound on the rear.”
Young uses more electronic intervention than some Canadian competitors, with some of our top guns having a history of disabling many of the rider aids. Young also recently had an electronics issue with a sensor at a Calabogie National, so Ben knows he can ride the big BeeMm sans rider aids if necessary.
And what would be Young’s main take away from his quick jaunt to Europe?
“I’d like to ride tracks like that all the time!”
Now Young is back home in ski country, Collingwood, Ontario. But he’ll always have Spain.