Last September, Ben Young was justifiably preoccupied with his shot at the No. 1 plate. The Shannonville Motorsport Park final Bridgestone CSBK National, with an unusual three GP Bikes Pro Superbike class races, would decide the season long battle between the reigning No. 1, Young, on the Van Dolder’s Home Team BMW M 1000 RR and archrival and season-long points leader Alex Dumas and his Purple Skull Brewing Suzuki GSX-R1000.
The commitment to the title chase meant that Young missed a family trip home to Scotland, planned for some time in connection with his sister’s east coast wedding, and unfortunately now also including an important funeral. So right now, Ben is back in Scotland, catching up on earlier missed commitments.
While Ben’s plans are not all confirmed, he was prepared in early December to tell Inside Motorcycles that he is “working on things with BMW, I will be on a BMW – there is nothing signed, but that is the plan.”
Young has been BMW mounted since he launched his full-time CSBK career in 2016 and served as BMW Motorrad’ s key competitor since Jordan Szoke headed over to Kawasaki for 2019. During this time, he has taken three overall and Superbike crowns, and sat out the abbreviated 2022 “Covid season” won by Szoke.
While Young is in a good place in terms of the record book, he frequently mentions that he doesn’t plan to race forever. Now 30 years old, Young’s plan is to race for a few years yet, but nothings is set from his perspective.
One thing that remains as unfinished business for Young is the Daytona 200, the Florida classic where Young showed well on a rented Yamaha for the Bridgestone Canadian Team earlier this year. He can’t confirm the 2024 US program, but it involves equipment built by Trevor Daley’s OneSpeed Shop. Veteran racer Daley a good friend and work-out buddy of Young. Daley has also worked for several of the top teams in the United States. The rubber will again from CSBK spec supplier Bridgestone.
Young will confirm that his 2024 crew at his various events includes “his” regular stalwarts Willie Vass and Scott Cartier, the duo who, along with American BMW data ace Steve Weir, helped get Young back into Championship contention over the summer of 2023.
Young also aims to ride his BMW Superbike prior to Daytona, since he won’t have been on track in anger since S.M.P. in September: “I need to get out on the Superbike, and that worked when we went to JenningsGP before Daytona in the Spring; even so, the speeds at Daytona are a bit of a shock to the system!”
Our chat offered a chance to get Young’s view of the deciding Shannonville event, now that the dust has settled, and the title is assured.
“I feel like Alex had it, going in,” admits Young of his main rival over the past three seasons. “It’s his track, he teaches there, and it helps to know that place well.”
Young prepared for three straight fights with Dumas, but part one was key, and ended very quickly on the Friday afternoon.
“I think that if we had those three races in a row, it would have been tough to get the Championship,” continues Young. “His bike was dialed in, and my best parts of the track were like when I raced Alex at Calabogie – risky spots, very difficult to make something work.
“But I could see the pressure build up with Alex; and was the pressure going to be too much?
“Patrice (Goyette, the builder of the Dumas machinery and long-time pit reference for the young racer from Quebec City) has done a very good job with the electronics on the Suzuki, and obviously Alex is a great rider and racer. They came up with a good bike, and I think it was the best it could be at Shannonville.
“On the flip side, I think maybe we were too careful with our set-up for Shannonville, we didn’t have much time to practice and my crash in Friday morning Q would be a factor too.
“When Sam (Guerin, BMW) got the hole shot in that first race, he was motivated, and likely tough to get by too. If Sam had taken his normal line into turn five, nothing would have happened, but Alex was really impatient, and showed Sam a wheel.
“This made Sam blow the corner, Sam went in so deep, and that’s when everything happened. When Alex fell, I just figured, don’t be and idiot, go into cruise mode.”
Young’s Friday victory meant he now held a solid points lead in the title chase, and Saturday’s penultimate chase Saturday saw Dumas set a searing pace, with Young passing for the win and title late in the race.
“That made things so much easier, getting that Saturday win, so the pressure was off on Sunday, and Alex could win – I didn’t need to take any more risks. Obviously, it was our goal to beat them, but I have to say that I wouldn’t be as fast as I am today if I hadn’t been racing Alex the last three years. I don’t know about his (Dumas) plans, but I’m hopefully he comes back.”
During his Championship weekend, Young was also watching for another potential young challenger on the horizon, superbike class rookie Trevor Dion on the Express Lube Ducati Panigale v4, built at the last minute by Scott Miller’s Fast Company.
“I saw Dion in practice a couple of times, and it didn’t look like they had things figured out,” reflects Young. “But watching video of that last Sunday race, they seemed to have it working – not perfect, but it was fast. They are figuring things out.”
Expect to hear more about what Young has figured out for 2024, soon. Motorcycle Speed Week at Daytona, likely to feature several fast Canuks for the 200 including Young and Dion, starts with practice and first Q on Thursday, March 7, races on Sunday, weather permitting.
- From Colin Fraser