The tides began to turn at the top of the Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship on Saturday, as Ben Young controlled race one in the GP Bikes Pro Superbike class at the Grand Bend Motorplex, presented by Goderich Toyota.
Building upon a dominant showing in qualifying on Friday, Young took the first major step in erasing his title deficit to Alex Dumas in round two, comfortably pacing the championship leader aboard his Van Dolder’s Home Team BMW.
It didn’t initially look like that would be the case after Dumas grabbed the holeshot on lap one, but his lead would last all of about one kilometre before Young stormed to the front off the end of the back straightaway and never looked back.
The early move was revealed to be by design, as Young – needing every point he can get after entering with a 23-point deficit – wanted to avoid handing Dumas the two-point bonus for leading a lap, a tactic that reduced his gap to only 14 points entering Sunday.
“Alex got the holeshot on us again, but I wanted to make the pass early so he couldn’t get the two points, because we need every point we can right now,” Young said.
His performance wasn’t without any drama, however, as his brake reservoir came loose around the halfway point, causing a few unwanted memories to resurface after a loose tail-section cost him a sure podium in round one.
“Thankfully I knew I could manage it and it would settle in after a while, but at first I thought ‘oh here we go again’” Young joked.
Young’s progress forward in the championship was limited by Dumas in second, but it was hardly the usual one-two finish many fans have been used to seeing, as Sam Guerin pressured Dumas closely for almost the entire 22-lap race.
The 2021 champion defended beautifully though, managing to put just enough distance between himself and third at the line to keep his Purple Skull Brewing/Liqui Moly Suzuki in the next best spot of second – even despite needing his ‘B’ bike after a morning engine failure popped up.
“Grabbing the holeshot felt good, but the bike still isn’t where we want it,” Dumas admitted. “We had engine issues in practice, so I guess the ‘B’ bike held up well, but we’ll need to make some changes to hopefully catch Ben tomorrow.”
Guerin appeared to be sizing up a move on Dumas into the turn one bus-stop, but the EFC Group BMW rider got caught up in traffic with five laps to go which prevented a late battle between the two, though he smartly held on to a crucial third to jump into the same spot in the championship.
“I was planning a pass but the traffic cost me, and then when I was pushing to catch back up I actually lost a knee slider,” Guerin said. “From there Alex kind of took off, so I just tried to save it and bring it home in third.”
The double-podium also moves BMW to within eleven points of leaders Suzuki in the Constructors Championship, a result helped by Trevor Daley only managing fifth for the GSX-R brand.
Daley was running as high as fourth on the final lap before veteran Jordan Szoke made an excellent move in the penultimate corner, putting his LDS Consultants Kawasaki just off the podium in fourth and up to sixth in the overall championship.
The late pass ultimately wouldn’t have mattered to Daley, who was carrying a five-second jump start penalty that would have put him behind Szoke regardless, though he had built up enough of a gap to keep his OneSpeed Suzuki in fifth.
Daley was unfortunately involved in an incident with Chris Pletsch, attempting a late-breaking move into turn one and colliding with the home favourite, who couldn’t finish the race due to brake line damage.
It was a heartbreaking end to Pletsch’s national Pro Superbike debut, as he overcame an awful start to move his way back into the top-five just before the incident. The Stratford Cycle Centre Honda rider will hope to get a shot at redemption on Sunday, as he lines up second on the grid again in race two.
Just behind the chaos was Tomas Casas, who would have been in the battle for fourth himself if not for a self-inflicted mistake on lap eleven. The Parts Canada Yamaha rider had just passed Pletsch and was reeling in Szoke when he ran wide onto the back straightaway, forcing him into a lonely sixth on-track that would later become fifth.
The rest of the top-ten was at one point featured in an epic four-rider battle for seventh, though the late stages began to spread the group out as Jordan Royds held off the other trio aboard his IBEW BMW to claim sixth in the final classification.
Just behind was rookie John Fraser, who proved to be a critical performer for Suzuki in the wake of the Daley disqualification. The 17-year-old star also put his RSL Contracting machine back in the mix for the Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year title, only three points behind ninth-place finisher Paul Macdonell on the Acme Motorsports Yamaha.
Between Fraser and Macdonell was Phillip Leckie, who attempted a trio of late passes on the east-coast youngster but came up just short to finish a solid eighth on his SCM/Tanians BMW.
Macdonell and Casas would also help push Yamaha further clear of Kawasaki for third in the Constructors table, aided by rookie Trevor Dion retiring early amidst mechanical blips on his LDS Consultants Kawasaki.
The feature GP Bikes Pro Superbike class will now turn their focus to race two on Sunday at Grand Bend, with multiple championship leads on the line to finish off the second round.
Full results from all the national action can be found on the series’ official website.
- From Professional Motorsports Productions