It’s rare that not a single national title has been handed out entering the final round of the Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship season, but the amateur classes have set up five thrilling conclusions to help buck the trend in 2023 at Shannonville Motorsport Park, September 15-17.
The early season dominance of Mavrick Cyr would lead many to think the amateur ranks wouldn’t be as close as they are, but the Rizzin Racing Triumph teenager will certainly have his hands full in the AIM Insurance Amateur Superbike class during their doubleheader finale.
Results of fifth and sixth at CTMP have helped close the door dramatically in the title fight, and not just to rival Andrew Cooney. Though Cooney is closest to him with just a six-point championship deficit, only 16 points separate the entire top-four, with Matt Vanderhorst (-12) and Tyler Brewer (-16) also firmly in the mix.
Vanderhorst is fresh off his race two win at CTMP and an experienced Shannonville rider, having finished third in round one on the “pro track” layout before the circuit switched to their “long track” configuration for the last round.
Cyr’s biggest threat will likely be the one he expected all along, though, as Cooney is set to bring reinforcements to what is potentially his last amateur weekend. Previously mounted on a Fast Company Honda, the preseason favourite is now switching to Ducati machinery for the final round thanks to additional support from Economy Lube & Tire.
While the long track layout is kinder to lesser-horsepower bikes than the tighter pro track, the added performance of his V2 Panigale should still make a meaningful difference in the title fight as he tries to claw back and snatch Cyr’s crown.
He will have a tougher time doing so in the Scorpion EXO Amateur Sport Bike category, though, where Cyr has built up a far more menacing 42-point cushion. Three wins in four races have put him on the brink of clinching the championship, which he can do as early as race one on Saturday.
Should Cyr wrap up the Sport Bike title and manage to fend off Cooney and company for the Superbike crown, the 18-year-old would become just the third rider to ever win both amateur classes in the same year, joining Mitch Card (2013) and Luc Labranche (2018).
Even without adding to his win list, just a pair of top-eight finishes can seal the deal for Cyr in the middleweight class, with Cooney’s focus instead turning to just holding onto the vice-champion spot in second.
A breakthrough weekend for Mack Weil at CTMP has lifted him to third in the championship and just nine points back of Cooney, as he seemed far more comfortable in his first races since switching to a MotorcycleCourse.com Kawasaki (from Yamaha).
Weil is just marginally clear of another pair of teenagers, though, with Bryce Deboer three points back in fourth and Phillip Degama-Blanchet nine points adrift in fifth.
That’s especially notable because only the top-three in each championship will be forced to turn pro for 2024, meaning two of Weil, Deboer, and Degama-Blanchet could be returning to the amateur ranks for another season depending on their battles this weekend.
A pair of other categories sure to deliver numerous battles come in the lightweight ranks, where “the battle of the Vincents” rages on and one former pro star aims to cap off their comeback story.
In the Super Sonic Race School Lightweight Sport Bike class, it’s 15-year-old sensation Vincent Lalande who will carry a 12-point championship lead into the finale, but rival Vincent Wilson is the one carrying all the momentum.
After Lalande won the opening two races of the season – notably at Shannonville – Wilson has stormed back to rattle off four consecutive victories, gradually reducing his championship deficit over the course of the campaign.
Lalande had played it smart to this point by securing a podium spot in each race to maintain his advantage, but two more victories for Wilson could be enough to hand him the junior title, meaning Lalande will need to get back ahead of the New Brunswick native if he wishes to escape with the championship.
The wildcard in their fight might just be Jack Beaudry, who was a thorn in Lalande’s side at round one and managed to steal a crucial second-place result in the last race at SMP. Beaudry is still chasing his own debut national win, but podiums in five of six races have made him more than capable of doing so as he tries to mix things up at the front.
Lalande and Wilson will continue their fight into the EBC Brakes Lightweight Pro/Am, but the real storyline in that category is not with the two amateur talents but instead at the top of the pro division, where Stacey Nesbitt leads by 16 points over Ryan Vanderputten and sits tied with Wilson for the overall crown.
While Vanderputten is a Shannonville specialist, Nesbitt will be quick to remind her rival that she was the winner of race one in May while Vanderputten crashed out, helping build an early lead for the former Pro Superbike rider.
Vanderputten clawed back with three consecutive victories, but it hasn’t been enough to fully flip the script in the standings as Nesbitt retains the title advantage and sits on 129 points overall, the exact same total as amateur leader Wilson.
Wilson’s individual lead is a much more comfortable 28 points over Lalande, needing only to finish as a top-three amateur to secure the trophy in their side of the standings, but the intriguing side-battle concerns who will take home bragging rights as the ultimate Pro/Am champion between the two class winners.
The full schedule for the weekend’s amateur racing can be found on the series’ official website at CSBK.ca.