This weekend, Alex Dumas (Suzuki), Ben Young (BMW) and Jordan Szoke (Kawasaki) will fight it out during the final two CSBK Pro Superbike Feature Race Nationals of this season, deciding the 2022 number one title.
This year, these three have dominated proceedings, with little interruption – after five races, only Suzuki’s Trevor Daley has joined the dominant trio for a Podium presentation.
At the Calabogie National opener in July, the two races had the exact same podium and top five finishing order: Dumas, Young, Szoke, Daley and Parts Canada Yamaha’s Tomas Casas. This repeatability is uncommon, although as season’s progress the title contenders frequently distance themselves from the pack.
However, this year is something special. While Dumas, Young and Szoke have prevailed, the challengers are very near indeed. At the most recent Canadian Tire Motorsport Park race, the top six were the closest-ever in the history of the series at the finish line, with fourth placed Sebastien Tremblay (Turcotte Kawasaki), Daley and Casas right there in the lead draft for the finish.
At Calabogie, the pressure on the top three to work out their math will make it easier for one or two of the other “A” listers to get into the mix. This is key for Szoke, who sits third in the standings and needs some disruption in the typical top three if he has any chance to earn his unprecedented 15th career overall National title.
Szoke’s most obvious potential helper is Tremblay, who’s pace at Calabogie is legendary. In late July Tremblay was reunited with the ZX-10R Ninja Superbike he most recently piloted at C.T.M.P. in 2019, and the duo were right back in business – only a bad clutch held Tremblay back at the Pro 6 GP Regional at Calabogie in late July.
Since then, Tremblay had three solid National efforts at C.T.M.P., including a Podium spot he lost on a lap count-back due to a Red Flag. His trio of fourth place finishes certainly establish Tremblay as a title contender for the overall #1 in 2022, but what might he do at Calabogie?
Tremblay’s priority is likely the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike middleweight crown. He is unbeaten in the past two years with his Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja, and long overdue for the Sport Bike title after years of bad luck while running up front.
Recently, Tremblay has been doing ‘Iron Man’ duty with his middleweight Ninja. The September weather conditions might make fitness less of an issue for Calabogie II, but there is no question that Tremblay is fit and lean.
It is possible Tremblay could clinch his middleweight title on Friday afternoon, when CSBK stages the make up race three for the Pro Sport Bike race postponed from C.T.M.P. That would take some of the pressure off and allow Tremblay to focus on Saturday’s two Superbike races.
At a recent Pro 6 Cycle track day at Calabogie, Tremblay attracted considerable attention with very brief outing with a special soft Dunlop “Q” rear tire, left over from the rain-out Friday afternoon session at ‘old Mosport.’ With the exotic rear rubber, Tremblay lapped faster than anyone has so far in 2021 at Calabogie.
Is this meaningful? Hard to say, but it certainly indicates that Tremblay is on the top of his game right now.
For Daley, another Podium would confirm his steadily improving pace, but his necessary caution around fellow Suzuki rider Dumas might force a more conservative approach. Daley’s 2021 lap times place him among the pace setters, so he is certainly ready to confirm his next-step progress.
Recently Casas had mentioned that so far, he had yet to crash his immaculate Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike. But a big ‘off’ in Q at C.T.M.P. munched his “A” machine and forced a long switch of surviving good components to the back-up bike. After the fall and rebuild, Casas looked very good on Sunday at C.T.M.P., and his Pro 6 GP Regional win at Calabogie must have the York U student in a positive frame of mind.
At the start of the season, it would make sense to guess that BMW would have the best shot at the Constructer’s Crown, due to the strong performance of several S1000RR racers in recent years. However, behind Young, the BMW contingent has struggled with lots of minor issues, crashes, and bad luck – are they ready to finish 2021 strong and back up Young to his second career Crown?
Michael Leon is a regular front runner and looked a likely race winner in 2020 with the Royal Distributing-backed BMW. However, Leon struggled with minor electronic challenges at Calabogie, and then departed the scene early at C.T.M.P. with a first race fall from the lead train in turn nine. His machine was too badly damaged to take part in the remaining two races, derailing his 2021 campaign.
Last year, the story of the season was likeable Samuel Guerin, a rookie Pro with the pace to fight with Leon, Jeff Williams – and Champ Szoke. This year, it has been one problem after another for Guerin, starting with a host of set-up and prep issues at the opener. At C.T.M.P., “Q” was a mess, but then Guerin raced well enough in the opener to earn the FAST Riding School Hard Charger Award.
Unfortunately, that is as far a Guerin would go. In the next race, he suffered a high-speed fall in turn eight, ending his weekend. Guerin will be among the hungriest for results at the final two National Features – how will these potential challengers affect the outcome of the title chase?