The first ever Motul Canada Cup MiniSBK season kicked off in thrilling fashion on Saturday, as rising star Vincent Lalande won the opening race of the feature series at the Lombardy Raceway, presented by the Super Sonic Road Race School.
The new championship sees the riders of the future battle on identical Ohvale machines mounted with Pirelli tires and backed by Motul oil, with the goal of producing top-level Canadian racers and improving their path to the world stage.
Lalande, just 14 years old, entered the inaugural round of the new MiniSBK series with no prior experience aboard his Ohvale, but that didn’t seem to faze him one bit as he nearly snatched the first ever pole position in Canada Cup history, an honour that ultimately went to fellow teenager Ben Hardwick by just 0.012 seconds early on Saturday afternoon.
The duo would have just mere hours to evaluate the 700m Lombardy circuit before returning for race one, but the best was still to come for their budding rivalry. After a spirited battle throughout the race, Hardwick entered the last lap with a slim advantage before he and Lalande exchanged the lead three more times, with Lalande making the decisive move in the final long, sweeping corner en route to a photo-finish victory by roughly a hundredth of a second.
The two were joined on the podium by Merick Summer, who rode an equally impressive race to complete the rostrum in the first half of the round one doubleheader. All three riders had high praise for one another on the post-race podium, but that didn’t distract from what is likely just the beginning of a long rivalry between a group of future stars in Canadian racing.
Outside of the feature category, Lalande and Hardwick had largely opposite days in their respective support classes, with Lalande claiming a pair of other victories on his Speed Factory-backed Buccimoto machine, while Hardwick crashed earlier in the day just prior to his thrilling Canada Cup battle.
Neither rider will have to wait long to renew their early championship duel, with the second half of the round one doubleheader getting underway at Lombardy on Sunday afternoon with another Canada Cup feature race and four more support contests.
Lombardy Raceway will be home to majority of the season slate, while the full schedule can be found on the series’ official website at www.supersonicschool.com/Race-Schedule/.
- From Professional Motorsports Productions