Bickle Racing/402Bike Yamaha rider Will Hornblower officially secured his first ever National championship in the final round of the 2019 Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship season, scoring a pair of podiums at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to bring home the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike title.
The 24-year old Hornblower entered the weekend in a somewhat comfortable position after his statement win in round four at Atlantic Motorsport Park, heading to CTMP with a 34-point lead over two-time defending champion Tomas Casas.
Despite the large cushion atop the standings, Casas was the winner of both races in 2018’s doubleheader weekend at the Bowmanville circuit, placing the pressure back on Hornblower as he looked to wrap up his first ever CSBK championship.
Things got off to a frustrating start for the entire Pro Sport Bike field, as Friday morning’s practice session was cut short due to slippery track conditions, forcing CSBK officials to clean the circuit prior to the afternoon session. However, just as the track began to improve in the second practice slot, changing weather conditions brought the field to a halt once more, ending their day much earlier than anticipated.
As a result, Hornblower was able to record only three laps over the course of the day, with only ten riders recording an official lap time. Luckily for the Sarnia native, neither Casas nor fellow rival Sebastien Tremblay were able to record a strong lap either, moving the first taste of meaningful track time to Saturday morning.
“Friday is an important day on these double headers, so having lost pretty much the whole day was tough, but everyone was in the same boat,” Hornblower said. “I rode all day Wednesday when most of the guy’s didn’t, so I wasn’t too worried.”
After a brief warm-up session, Hornblower got right back to business in the qualifying session, briefly leading the timesheets at numerous points before falling to third entering the final two minutes. That was just the start of things, however, as pole position changed hands five times over the final 90 seconds between the three rivals, ultimately going to Tremblay with a time just 0.510 seconds faster than Hornblower in third.
It was a sensational lap by Tremblay, Hornblower pointed out, as the Kawasaki veteran was the lone rider to get into the 1:23 time bracket, posting a lap of 1:23.835 just before time expired in the session.
With his lead now down to 33 points following qualifying, Hornblower entered Saturday’s race one needing only to stay within striking distance of Casas to keep his title hopes alive. That quickly became a realistic goal, with the duo latching onto Tremblay and running in unison for majority of the contest.
After all three traded places a number of times in the dying laps, Tremblay began to stretch a lead slightly entering the final stages, leaving the two Yamaha riders to battle it out for second. Entering the final corner with a slight gap, Hornblower was passed by Casas in turn ten, but was able to get the better drive onto the front straight – beating his counterpart by just 0.002 seconds to stretch his lead to 38 points.
“Saturday was stressful. I knew I couldn’t make mistakes, and minimising the points lost to Tommy was key,” Hornblower said. “It was a great battle all race with Sebastian and Tommy, and I just barely got Tommy at the line. I pushed pretty hard the whole race, but with two laps to go I knew beating Tommy was the goal.”
With just 52 points available on Sunday, Hornblower and the Bickle Racing/402Bike team needed only to finish 12th or higher to secure their spot in CSBK history, with Hornblower finishing top-two in every race up to that point.
Things got off to a similar start in race two, with the three rivals jumping out to an early battle once again. It initially appeared that Hornblower might aim to celebrate his title from the top of the podium, making a pass for the lead in the middle stages of the race.
However, as Casas and Tremblay began to up the aggression, Hornblower chose to settle into a comfortable third position, avoiding any potential heartbreak as he cruised to the final podium spot behind his two foes, with Tremblay winning the race but Hornblower doing more than enough to secure his first championship by 33 points.
“This year it all seemed to click. I got some lucky breaks, but I was also always a part of the battle for the lead and let the races come to me,” Hornblower said. “To have such a consistent season after 5 or 6 years of bad luck and bad decision leading to inconsistent results, this is total vindication.”
Ironically, it was the worst result of the season for the impressively consistent rider, who was the only competitor in any of the five National classes to finish on the podium in every single race of the season.
Will would like to personally thank, Bickle Racing, 402Bike, Bluestreak Racing, Pro 6 Cycle and Dunlop Tires, Shaun’s Motorcycles, WCK Honda, DMW Motorcycles, Al Beljeu, and Pat Milligan for their support and efforts during the 2019 CSBK campaign.
From a press release