It’s a familiar story entering the Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship finale next weekend, as Alex Dumas and Ben Young prepare for their third consecutive title decider since their rivalry began in 2021, this time at Shannonville Motorsport Park.
However, the story of how they got here is far different this time around.
It might be difficult to remember all the craziness that helped set up Dumas’ three-point championship lead, so here’s a refresher of how the first four rounds played out entering the grudge match on September 15-17.
Opening the season in a new venue meant a bit of unpredictability to kickstart the year for Dumas and Young, but no one could know just what was on the horizon.
Dumas drew first blood, pacing FP1 to take a slight advantage over Young into qualifying with the rest of the field lagging behind, thanks in part to his extensive teaching experience at the FAST School located at SMP.
Young would rebound when it first mattered though, storming to pole position by a comfortable margin and grabbing the four points that comes with it, as Dumas (taking home three points for second) appeared to be on the backfoot entering race one.
Mother nature had other plans, however, as the skies opened up on Saturday and Dumas got a terrific start alongside the charging Sam Guerin. With Guerin beginning to get the better of Dumas, Young – perhaps trying to limit any early damage – settled in to a lonely third, which would become second when Guerin crashed out of the lead to hand the first victory of the year to Dumas.
With dry track ahead of them for race two, fans expected their first duel of the season between the two title favourites. Instead, Dumas got a terrific launch while Young went backwards off the start, battling with Jordan Szoke and Guerin when things began to go from bad to worse.
Fans were bewildered when Young peeled into the pitlane, and even more confused when he returned to the track in ninth place – this time missing his BMW’s seat and tailsection. He would claw his way back to sixth, but that was little consolation against race two victor Dumas, who swept the opening round for a huge advantage.
Dumas: 57, Young: 34
The more familiar confines of Grand Bend were supposed to bring much-needed good fortune to Young, and it certainly appeared as though that would be the case as he topped FP1 ahead of a very close top-ten.
His lead would grow even more in qualifying, as Young cruised to a second consecutive pole position and took home another four points. That would prove to be more crucial than before, as Dumas could only grab a pair of points in third with local favourite Chris Pletsch splitting the title rivals on the front row, dropping the gap to 21 points.
Race one was exactly what the doctor ordered for the reigning champ, as Young held off an early challenge from Dumas to reel in his first victory of the year in comfortable fashion, moving firmly into the title mix as his deficit was cut to only 14 entering Sunday.
That is, until Young failed to even make the race two grid.
With more rain falling, the BMW star made a rare and uncharacteristic error, crashing on the warmup lap and being forced into the pits onto his ‘B’ bike. By the time he would rejoin, he would be three laps down and could only watch as Dumas went untested the entire way, wrapping up a third win in four races to begin the campaign.
A string of crashes would allow Young to salvage eleventh, but that was all.
Dumas: 106, Young: 70
Entering the critical midway point of the season, it was fitting that the battle would roll onto the always-unpredictable AMP in Nova Scotia. That unpredictability continued into FP1, where Dumas blitzed past Young – the runaway favourite entering the east coast.
Another batch of heavy rain prevented what would have been qualifying, meaning the grids for both races would be set by those FP1 results, albeit with no points awarded.
But with Dumas having broken Young’s streak of pole positions, it seemed like the 2021 champ could put the nail in the coffin of Young’s title hopes, as another win would stretch his lead north of 40 points with five races left.
As we now know that chance never came. A historic amount of rainfall and nearby bridge washout forced the cancellation of round three, with one race added to the finale but another lost entirely from the season slate. A tough blow for Dumas, but an even tougher blow for Young as the gap remained the same with one less opportunity.
Three feature class races at CTMP meant plenty of points were on offer in the penultimate round, and Young seemed to have the early advantage by topping FP1 from Dumas.
Again, rain would prevent qualifying from running as scheduled, meaning Young would kick off the grid from pole position but crucially without any qualifying points.
That didn’t seem to faze Young, though, as he quickly broke away from the pack and cruised to a runaway victory – not just once, or even twice, but in all three races. A trio of wins and weekend sweep would prove to be massive for his title chances, but not disastrous for Dumas as long as he could salvage second.
The only issue was that Dumas would be forced to settle for third in race one behind Guerin, making a sizeable dent in his lead. Then Guerin would repeat the result in race two, creating a slight bit of panic for the Suzuki star and championship leader.
That panic turned to full blown chaos by race three, as Guerin completed the trifecta of second-place finishes with Dumas third once again. What looked like wishful thinking for Young and a worst-case scenario for Dumas both proved to be true, as the 36-point lead Dumas enjoyed was all but evaporated in just two days at CTMP.
Now just three more races separate each rider from the 2023 crown, with the standings effectively wiped and a winner-takes-all weekend on tap at Shannonville, the same venue where the chaos all began five months ago.
Dumas: 154, Young: 151. Who will take home this year’s Canada Cup? Find out September 15-17 at SMP.