Bridgestone CSBK stars battle the elements in private test at Grand Bend

Plans for a private test couldn’t be completely spoiled by the rain on Thursday, as a trio of top Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship riders took to the Grand Bend Motorplex to officially try their new Bridgestone Battlax tires for the first time. 

The test included a pair of reigning Pro national champions in Ben Young and Trevor Dion, as well as perennial frontrunner Sam Guerin, as they were joined by Bridgestone engineers and representatives from various parts of Japan and the United States. 

While the event was largely kept under wraps and operated on an invitational basis, it is meant to be a precursor to a larger official Winter Test in 2023, an occasion that will allow more riders to try the new Bridgestone rubber that the trio first saw Thursday.

The day was hampered by persistent rain, but that didn’t stop Guerin in particular from putting in track time aboard his EFC Group BMW, as the 2020 Superbike runner-up had nothing but good things to say about his first impressions of the new series sponsor and spec tire.

“I’m really blown away by all the support we have gotten already, it’s very positive,” Guerin said. “I’m really looking forward to getting some consistent dry laps in, but so far I am very happy and thankful to be a part of this process.”

Guerin was an eager participant as CSBK enters a new era with Bridgestone, one of many reasons why the fifth overall finisher from this season was invited to test alongside a pair of number one plate holders in Young and Dion. 

Dion, the reigning Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike champion aboard his LDS Consultants machine, managed to get a few laps in amidst the challenging weather conditions, but already entered the day with a unique perspective as someone with plenty of track knowledge at his home circuit – including some brief moments already on Bridgestone tires in the SOAR regional series. 

That knowledge was shared with engineer of tire design Masayoshi Matsunaga, who flew in from Japan along with race planning manager Shintaro Mori, to provide support alongside their American representatives from Bridgestone USA, while the group began the day by meeting with recent Canada Cup champion Young and his crew. 

The Van Dolder’s Home Team BMW rider did not go on track Thursday, but still took the time to prepare data and setups for the 2023 campaign, as he looks forward to what could be a clean slate next season with riders having to learn the new tires. 

“It’s exciting. Obviously, that brings new challenges, but this is good progression,” Young said. “Having the extra support is going to be great for the series and help us to take the next step.”

While the CSBK portion of the private test officially wrapped up on Thursday, Young and Dion are expected to remain at Grand Bend to continue testing with Bridgestone on Friday, as they hope to get some dry running in before the offseason kicks off. 

Details on the Winter Test are to be announced at a later date, with a tentative plan for the event aiming to be in the southern United States near late March 2023.