Mopar Pro Superbike championship leader Ben Young inched drastically closer to his first ever National title on Saturday, winning in race one at Atlantic Motorsport Park at round four of the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship, presented by Pro Cycle, LS2 Helmets, and Liqui Moly.
Young started from pole position but quickly went backwards on lap one, as Trevor Daley grabbed the holeshot ahead of Jordan Szoke with Young running in third. The Collingwood, ON rider was able to move up into second by lap two, and seemed poised to overtake Daley as the pack headed onto the front straightaway on lap three.
Instead, Daley lost grip exiting the final corner, causing Young and Szoke to slow up slightly. Desperately trying to avoid disaster, Szoke hammered on the brakes, clipping the rear wheel of Young’s Barrie Trim/Scot-Build BMWS1000RR and sending both riders into the grass.
Young was able to continue, staying upright and returning to the track in 10th position, but Szoke’s race – and potential championship hopes – ended in heartbreaking fashion as the four-time defending champion was unable to move his Mopar Express Lane Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja machine.
With Daley now well out front aboard his Parts Canada Suzuki GSX-R1000R, it appeared as though the race was all but finished only a handful of laps in, but by the midway point the Mississauga, ON native had begun to come under pressure from Samuel Trepanier.
After nearly winning a year ago aboard his Blysk Racing BMW, the St. Isidore, QC native managed to take the lead once more with just eight laps to go, stretching a gap to Daley with his first career Pro victory in sight.
However, Young had managed to work his way back into a podium spot with six laps to go, and was continuing to set fast laps as he eventually overtook Daley. With just a lap to go and Young now charging onto the tail-end of Trepanier, the two rivals went to battle in the final three corners.
Young first made his pass in turn nine, but ran wide and allowed Trepanier back into the lead, only to once again stun his BMW counterpart in the final corner as he completed the miraculous comeback to score his third victory of the season.
“I honestly didn’t think I’d be up here [on the podium], even when I started to catch them I thought there was no way,” Young said. “When we collided and I ran off track, I looked back to see if Jordan was okay, and then I just knew I had to pick up as many points as I could for the championship, so I started to push again. It was crazy, I don’t know how we did it to be honest, but it should make for a phenomenal race tomorrow.”
The wild result extends Young’s championship lead to 69 points entering Sunday, as the BMW rider will have a mathematical chance to clinch the title as soon as race two on Sunday, though he would almost certainly need another DNF from Szoke.
It was a heartbreaking finish for Trepanier, who once again came painstakingly close to his first career victory only to fall up short on the final lap. Still, the fan-favourite was able to score his best result of the season and best since AMP a year ago, as he now sits within striking distance of Szoke for second in the championship.
“It was a really good race and a great battle at the end. It’s unfortunate for Jordan, but I’m glad we didn’t get caught up in it because I was just behind the pack,” said Trepanier. I knew I could catch Trevor, and I made a good pass on him, but I didn’t expect Ben to battle back. Either way, it was a really fun time out there.”
Daley managed to round out the podium for the third consecutive race, but it was the closest the former Amateur champion has come to scoring his first Pro Superbike victory as he continues to make progress aboard his factory Suzuki machine.
“I’ve had a lot of success on the Suzuki in the past, but it’s still a new bike and we still have a lot of progress to make, so to pick up three straight podiums is amazing,” Daley said. “Everything actually felt really good considering the heat and how long the race was, so hopefully we can move up a few spots on the podium tomorrow.”
It was also a solid ride for Tomas Casas, who tied his career-high result in the Superbike category as he finished fourth aboard his Parts Canada Yamaha YZF-R6 after a terrific battle with veteran Jeff Williams. The 20-year old out of Peterborough, ON led Williams and his G. Williams Paving BMW for virtually the entire race, though just a single bike length separated Casas from the Inverary, ON rider at the finish.
The top rookie of the day was once again 17-year-old phenom Nicolas Meunier, as the Verdun, QC youngster tied his own career-best finish in eighth aboard his Turcotte Performance Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja and will now take a 20-point lead in the Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year battle.
Casas also continued his red-hot stretch in the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike class, winning another instant classic over rival Will Hornblower for his third consecutive victory as he continues to claw his way back into the championship.
The two-time defending champion got a mediocre start from pole position, following Hornblower down into turn one as Sebastien Tremblay grabbed the holeshot. It didn’t take long for the Parts Canada Yamaha YZF-R6 youngster to move back into second, however, as Hornblower made a crucial mistake in turn two that allowed Casas by.
After taking the lead from Tremblay on lap five, Casas began to pull away, stretching out a full-second gap before Hornblower ultimately moved back into second aboard his Bluestreak Racing Yamaha and began to hunt down the reigning champ.
The two nearly traded places a handful of times over the final few laps, but a last-corner attempt from Hornblower wasn’t quite enough to edge the victory, as Casas defeated his Sarnia, ON counterpart by just 0.092 seconds at the line in a finish reminiscent of Young and Trepanier.
“That was so close at the end, I knew they were right behind me the whole way and I even saw Will pull up beside me a couple times at the end,” Casas said. “I didn’t get a bad start and I was able to capitalize on Will’s mistake coming out of turn two, and from there the Dunlop tires held up really well and I was able to hang onto it.”
It was another disappointing break for Hornblower, who has seen his championship lead continue to fade away to just 19 points entering race two on Sunday, though the round one winner remained positive through the extreme temperatures.
“It’s insanely hot out there, I don’t know how Tommy held up so well for 18 laps,” Hornblower said, as a humidity warning in the area had temperatures feeling as high as 39 degrees. “I got a really good start but lost it right away in turn two, and Tomas ran a really good race to the end. The Dunlop’s were incredible, and the tires still look amazing which is just outlandish in this heat.”
Not far behind the front-running duo was Tremblay, who fell off the pace in the middle stages as he continues to recover from a broken collarbone, but returned at the end to finish just a quarter-second behind Hornblower aboard his Turcotte Performance Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja.
“I gave it one hundred per cent, but I started to show my injury a bit towards the end,” the Mirabel, QC native said. “I couldn’t brake as deep or as hard as these guys, and the heat didn’t help because it’s a lot of work around here, but hopefully tomorrow things will feel a bit better.”
The three-rider battle nearly looked to be a four-rider pack at one point after a terrific start from Samuel Desmarais, though the Playground Poker Club Kawasaki rider lost steam towards the end of the race. Despite the fatigue, the Lasalle, QC native was still able to hold onto fourth as he continues to build upon his strong sophomore campaign.
The reigning Rookie of the Year was joined inside the top five by the current top Rookie, as Meunier tied his career-best Pro finish in fifth aboard his Turcotte Performance Kawasaki.
The third National race day of the day came and went with far less excitement, as Avery Hart cruised to his fifth victory of the season in the TSN Motorcycle Experience Lightweight Sport Bike class at his home circuit.
The Princeville, NS native got a good start from second on the grid and led start to finish, winning by just under four seconds aboard his WRBF Yamaha YZF-R3 ahead of championship rival Ben LeClair.
LeClair managed to limit the damage as much as possible aboard his bLU cRU Yamaha, as the Blackstock, ON teenager held off a strong charge from Strathroy, ON youngster Trevor Dion and his Fast Track Performance Kawasaki Ninja 400 as he maintains a 29-point lead entering Sunday.
With just one race on the weekend schedule, the Amateur classes entered their qualifying sessions on Saturday afternoon as usual, with Jake LeClair grabbing pole position in both categories aboard his bLU cRU Yamaha YZF-R6.
The Blackstock, ON teenager and older LeClair brother paced the Parts Canada Amateur Sport Bike class with a time of 1:11.345, before improving upon that time in the Mopar Express Lane Amateur Superbike class to post a fast-lap of 1:11.303.
Full results from Saturday’s racing and qualifying sessions can be found at the series’ official website at www.csbk.ca.