Two-time CSBK overall Champ Ben Young won the most recent three races of the Bridgestone CSBK Series going away, taking convincing wins last month at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Since, then, he has tested at the scene of the deciding round of the Championship, the 15 turn “long” version of Shannonville Motorsport Park, unused by CSBK since 2006.
Now focused on the deciding round this weekend, Young was busy in his contractor duties two days pre-race and will pick up his parents from the Airport Wednesday night; on Thursday he heads back to YYZ to get team members Willie and Nadine Vass. From there, it is off to S.M.P., with a brief stop at co-builder Scott Cartier’s shop to pick up chassis equipment for the Van Dolder’s Home Team backed pair of M-model BMWs.
“I had a day, really part of a day, at Shannonville, but it was good. Other than that, I rode a 125 cc Grand Prix bike on the long track back in 2012,” explains the reigning GP Bikes Pro Superbike class and overall Canadian Champion. “I was comfortable with my pace, really about as fast as I could go without some changes, and we know what those changes need to be for Friday and practice, then Qualifying and race one.”
The unique format for the final round, updated after the cancellation of the Atlantic National due to flooding, means that Young has three races to make up the points gap against arch-rival Alex Dumas and his Patrice Goyette built Purple Skull Breweries Suzuki GSX-R1000. With the standings in favor of Dumas, 154 to 151 points, the title race really is wide open.
“Yeah, I’m confident, coming off a real high from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park,” smiles Young. “I think that what we did at Mosport is what we are capable of, and we haven’t really shown that this year for a variety of reasons.
“I have no pressure – really, I blew my Championship at the opening round at Shannonville back in May,” explains Young, who was forced to pit from the lead in the second 2023 National when his tail section came loose.
“Since then, it has to be race by race, and try to have fun, not to focus on our deficit. If we are somehow able to turn things around and wind up winning the Championship, it would be that much more satisfying.”
Young agrees that, while there was little to choose between Dumas and the BeeMm Team leader in 2021 and 2022, this season Young might have a slight edge in outright pace.
“I think we are slightly faster now, but there are a lot of angles, a lot of different ways the team looks at this,” explains Young. “When Alex joined us in 2021, that was at Calabogie, and he was really impressive at that track. Also, it was our first race with the new bike, and in Canada you have a short season, and with COVID not much opportunity to develop the bike.”
“In 2022, we had the set up – Willie came up with the right geometry changes, and he was actually ahead of where Alpha (BMW tuning firm) was – their update for the same solution came out six months later. At that point, I felt like we were bringing a gun to a gun fight. This year, with the new M, our bike wasn’t so much similar to Alex at Mosport, it was better.”
“There are a number of factors to consider, as I mentioned. There is me personally, then the bike, and of course the switch to Bridgestone spec tires this year – the Bridgestone front really suits my style,” suggests Young, who showed serious pace against the top Americans in his one-off with Bridgestone at the Daytona 200 back in March.
Young also thinks that Dumas has changed his style in 2023, although Young is not sure why: “Alex is riding so hard, he is loose, and he’s like that everywhere, this year – it is a change form his typical approach.”
“It’s tough to say why, but always he is super smooth, and this year things have changed for Alex and the Suzuki.”
Meanwhile, Young references the deciding events of 2022, when Young beat Dumas at A.M.P. on the east coast and Dumas suffered a nasty fall on the famous ‘roller coaster’ section.
“If I got beat like that, I would work on my fitness, training wise. Shubbie is the pinnacle of fitness, and it my focus when I’m training. I don’t ease up after Shubenacadie, but it is a good goal for mid-summer as you work during the off season.”
The leads to the unusual format at S.M.P. and the deciding national, with one Superbike race on each of the three days, including a rare Friday round.
“I’d rather two Superbike races in one day, and I think that would be a benefit for me, with my training. I’d like it if the races were longer, too!”
Can Young make any plans for the event given the closeness of the title chase?
“Really, this is the way things are: we have to take it race by race,” considers Young. “I believe I have the upper hand, and then there are the other racers, and we saw Sam Guerin make a big step at C.T.M.P. (three 2nd place finishes), running ahead of Alex. But Alex will be tough – I know that.”
Finally, Young confirms a rumor, the suggestion that former MotoAmerica Champ and current U.S. front runner Josh Herrin might have competed for Ducati at the last 2023 CSBK National.
“I got a call from Josh, that there was a plan for Josh to come up, and I really wanted that to happen,” admits Young. “I know him well; I use to live at his place and train. I was really looking forward to that battle. Maybe next year.”
- From Colin Fraser