It may only be two races into an eleven-race GP Bikes Pro Superbike campaign, but the two biggest names in the Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship will find themselves in unfamiliar territory as they return to the Grand Bend Motorplex this weekend, June 8-11.
Since Alex Dumas returned north of the border in 2021, he and rival Ben Young have ran almost in unison, finishing one-two in 14 of their 18 races together and sharing the podium all but once – when Dumas crashed out of the lead battling with Young at AMP.
That figure doubled the last time we saw them in race two of the season opener at Shannonville Motorsport Park, as Dumas cruised to a weekend sweep while Young’s race was unraveled by loose bodywork, fighting his way back to only sixth after a trip through the pit lane.
So with Dumas now holding a 23-point advantage atop the standings and riding a four race win streak dating back to last year, it would seem likely that the Purple Skull Brewing/Liqui Moly Suzuki team is content heading to Grand Bend, while Young faces all the pressure.
Instead, they will both be more motivated than ever.
Dumas will know how crucial each race will be around the tight 2.2 km circuit, having watched Young sail away in race one last year and fend him off again in race two. That proved to be a difference maker in the title fight, as they each swept the next two rounds to give Young a 4-to-2 advantage entering the final weekend.
Dumas will want no part in repeating that in 2023, hoping he can change the narrative from just damage limitation to instead doubling down on his championship lead.
As for Young, the task is much more straightforward; do exactly as you did a year ago, sweep at Grand Bend, and head to the east coast for round three with – at worst – a 14-point deficit left to erase.
That won’t feel like an impossible task for the Van Dolder’s Home Team BMW rider, as he enters the weekend victorious in his last three races at the Motorplex, having won all but two of the races there since its debut on the calendar in 2017.
His dominant performance in race one a year ago emphatically proved that he is still the rider to beat at the venue, but he faced a stiffer challenge from Dumas in race two and will know by now that nothing will come easy to him against the 2021 champion.
The path forward will be made even harder by the emergence of Sam Guerin in round one, who put the duo on notice by leading parts of both races at Shannonville.
The EFC Group BMW rider appeared destined for his first pro national win in race one before crashing out in the rain, but made up for it with a second-place finish in race two as he enters Grand Bend still hungry for his debut victory.
Guerin didn’t exactly love the Motorplex in his first race weekend there in 2022, qualifying seventh and finishing with a high of sixth in race two, though he has looked like a much different rider in 2023 aboard a new S1000RR machine.
He will have no shortage of competition to deal with himself, however, with a loaded group led by Tomas Casas, Trevor Daley, and Jordan Szoke all gunning for spots at the front alongside Young and Dumas.
Casas proved his place amongst them in round one with a third-place finish in the rain, bringing home fifth in race two to exit third in the championship for the Parts Canada Yamaha team, while Daley took a pair of fourth place finishes to sit in the same spot overall. The OneSpeed Suzuki rider has finished in the top-five in every career race at Grand Bend and scored podiums in 2019 and 2022.
The biggest question marks, however, will be in the LDS Consultants Kawasaki garage and on the duo of Szoke and Trevor Dion.
Szoke battled through multiple serious health scares and a Saturday crash to finish a remarkable third in race two at SMP, but his body understandably felt the effects in the dry conditions. Grand Bend hasn’t been the fondest place for him either, having won just once there in 2018, but the 14-time champion proved at round one that he is never one to count out under any circumstance.
More uncertainty will hang over the other side of the LDS Consultants Kawasaki garage, where the only thing preventing Trevor Dion from running at the front may be injury. The reigning Sport Bike champion sat out round one after a hard crash in practice, but the hope was that he would be recovered in time for round two.
If that’s the case, Dion may be the next in line to Dumas and Young after qualifying on pole at Grand Bend a year ago and finishing third in race one, gathering plenty of track knowledge in the meantime as the local SOAR regional champion.
Should he sit out again, though, it would open up another huge opportunity in the Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year fight, where Paul Macdonnell leads John Fraser by just five points.
Macdonell brought home finishes of seventh and ninth in his debut weekend for the Acme Motorsports Yamaha program, while teenage sensation Fraser finished an excellent fifth in race one before mechanical issues forced him out of race two.
The final battle to look for will be the one in the Constructors Championship, where Suzuki holds a 16-point advantage over defending champs BMW.
The GSX-R squad produced 76 of a possible 90 points in round one and will be in a good spot to build upon their lead with Dumas, Daley, and Fraser all in good form, though Young, Guerin, and Jordan Royds will play a similar role for BMW.
As for third, Yamaha will look to fend off Kawasaki after the strong performances of Casas and Macdonell, though a hopefully healthy duo of Szoke and Dion will be tough to manage.
The full schedule for this weekend’s Superbike action can be found on the series’ official website.
- From Professional Motorsports Productions