For the first time in a half-decade, the Canada Cup is staying with its owner.
Ben Young officially retained his #1 plate on Saturday, winning race two at Shannonville Motorsport Park to clinch the GP Bikes Pro Superbike class in the final round of the Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship.
It originally looked as though the title fight would at least proceed onto Sunday, as Alex Dumas grabbed the holeshot and led virtually from start-to-finish with Young settling into a comfortable second, needing to gain four points on Dumas in order to clinch.
His pace began to ramp up dramatically in the final few laps, however, and the gap continued to drop as Young reeled in Dumas, pressuring him but still not showing any indication he would take the risk of passing his rival.
That all changed on the final lap, though, as Young launched a daring move into turn four – the same place where Dumas crashed out a day ago – and held off a pair of retaliation attempts to steal a fifth consecutive victory and wrap up his third overall CSBK championship.
“I was pursuing Alex all race, and he was really pushing me to my limit. A few times I even caught myself wondering if I should back off a bit and settle into second, but I was stronger on the brakes so I just put my head down and went for it,” Young said.
This trophy had a bit more meaning for the Van Dolder’s Home Team BMW squad, however, as Young admitted the narrative around his 2022 title fueled him to push for the win even if he didn’t necessarily need to for the points spread.
“Some people thought that we only won the championship last year because Alex crashed in AMP, so to prove that wrong even after all the bad luck we’ve had feels really special,” Young said. “But it’s been a great year battling him, and it took a great bike and a great team behind me to make it happen.”
The loss served as an exclamation point on what’s been a disastrous five-race stretch for Dumas, seeing his 36-point lead entering CTMP swing to a 28-point deficit entering the final race of the year.
The Purple Skull Brewing/Liqui Moly Suzuki rider was understandably frustrated at how the weekend has played out thus far, but will have an opportunity to at least end the year on a high note and build towards a fresh championship challenge in 2024.
“I tried to just get away early and to be honest I felt really comfortable, but Ben got by me in turn four and I think after the crash there yesterday and after leading every lap, I just was mentally drained,” Dumas said. “Congrats to Ben. It’s tough to lose another championship, but hopefully we can win it back in the years to come.”
The duo were once again clear of the pack by the end, but it didn’t start out that way as a pack of six ran together for majority of the opening five laps. That shuffling produced a very similar scenario to race one, though, as Sam Guerin again ran wide off the back straight and slipped out of the podium fight.
Instead the last podium place went to Trevor Dion, who continued his sensational debut weekend with the Economy Lube and Tire Ducati team with a third-place finish. That came at the expense of his former teammate Jordan Szoke, who Dion battled with throughout the race as the two put on a show to end the day.
“It’s been a phenomenal weekend. Such a hard-fought race today again, in the end we put it to Jordan but he ran a great race and didn’t make it easy at all,” Dion said. “He was faster than me in some places, but there were a lot of areas we had more speed too so I just wanted to put this Ducati into the podium and put my head down.”
Szoke was forced to settle for fourth, but continued what’s been perhaps his strongest weekend of the year after taking second-place on Friday aboard one of the Canadian Kawasaki machines.
The split between he and Dion has thus far been good for all parties involved, with the two both enjoying great weekends while Dion’s replacement – rookie Connor Campbell – continued to turn heads by finishing seventh in just his second-ever race aboard the Canadian Kawasaki superbike.
That performance earned him the FAST School Hard Charger Award on the day and a $500 prize to go with it, as he earns his place as one of the breakout stars of the final round.
Guerin’s crucial early mistake did knock him out of podium contention yet again but wasn’t enough to delay any celebration for BMW, as they also successfully defended their Constructors Championship in 2023.
The Motorrad brand celebrated their second consecutive crown with one race to go, and had Guerin join Young on the podium to accept the awards after the EFC Group rider’s heroics in round four at CTMP.
The other pro championships won’t have to wait long to be decided, after David MacKay and Andrew Van Winkle each moved closer to trophies on Saturday.
MacKay was only at the front for a single lap before Sebastien Tremblay took over a lead he wouldn’t relinquish, as the Turcotte Performance Suzuki rider looked nearly unstoppable in the debut of the revamped GSX-750.
The only rider who came close to ruining that debut was pole-sitter Brad Macrae, who overcame a mediocre start to hunt down Tremblay and put all kinds of pressure on the 2021 champion.
Unfortunately, Macrae would crash out just as he prepared an attack for the win, allowing a charging Elliot Vieira into second and MacKay back onto the podium in third as he extends his title advantage to 25 points over rival Matt Simpson – who was in the lead fight early but ran off the back straight early and could only fight back to fifth.
While MacKay was thrilled to extend his advantage, the star of the individual race was undoubtedly Tremblay who has now reeled off consecutive victories.
“I didn’t get a great start, but I followed for a lap and a half or so and then managed to get ahead of David. Brad made it super tough on me after that, but unfortunately he crashed out and I was able to relax a bit more again,” Tremblay said. “The 750 is really strong. We have some issues still to work through, but hopefully it can be even a bit better tomorrow.”
Vieira continued his red-hot second half of the season in second, putting the GP Bikes Ducati on the box for the fourth time in five races, though MacKay was happy to see him and Tremblay as the only two ahead of him.
“Our gameplan went exactly how we could have hoped,” MacKay said. “It was nice to get the holeshot and lead for a while, but we’re super happy with where we are. We did exactly what we needed to do for tomorrow.”
Simpson will need a miracle to overcome his 25-point deficit with only 27 points remaining, but has already turned his focus to adding a win to close out the year and taking whatever fortune comes afterwards.
As for Van Winkle, the 16-year-old phenom moved closer to securing a historic Bickle Racing Pro Twins title, winning for the first time in his national career at an opportune time as he takes over the championship lead from the injured Jeff Williams.
Van Winkle hasn’t mathematically clinched, but needs just to finish on Sunday to bring home the record-breaking title, which would make him the youngest pro champion ever.
“I just want to keep it on two wheels and clinch it, but we’re going to play it safe because you never know what can happen,” Van Winkle said. “It’s nice to be able to follow some of these Sport Bike guys and learn as much as possible, but hopefully we can bring it all home tomorrow.”
Full results from the penultimate day of the CSBK season can be found on the series’ official website.