The Canadian Superbike Championship kicked off day one of its 2021 season in stunning fashion on Saturday, as 2019 champion Ben Young crushed the Pro Superbike field in his return to racing at Calabogie Motorsports Park.
The Van Dolder’s Home Team BMW rider had some rust to shake off after nearly two full years away from the series, running nearly a full second off the pace in the morning practice sessions. Young quickly found his championship form in qualifying, however, as he posted a time of 2:02.436 to snatch his seventh career Yuasa Batteries Pole Position by a healthy 0.749 second margin.
Following Young and starting from the middle of the front row on Sunday will be Tomas Casas, who earned a career-best qualifying in second place as he also made his return after a year off from CSBK. The Parts Canada Yamaha rider narrowly edged reigning champion Jordan Szoke in third, with just 0.097 seconds separating the two.
Szoke’s championship defence will see him start from the end of the front row aboard his Canada General Warranty Kawasaki, as the 14-time National title-winner looks to claim his sixth consecutive victory at Calabogie in race one on Sunday.
Leading off the second row will be highly touted rookie Alex Dumas, who overcame a disastrous qualifying session to salvage fourth at the chequered flag. The Liqui Moly Suzuki teenager crashed on his out lap and later had laps removed for violating pitlane procedures, but he was still able to post a time of 2:03.717 in the final seconds to vault himself inside the top-five and mark four different manufacturers amongst the top four.
Dumas’ final lap displaced a terrific effort from Sebastian Tremblay, who will start fifth aboard his lesser-powered 600cc Turcotte Performance Kawasaki. The fan-favourite posted a time of 2:03.847, which would have crushed his own Sport Bike lap record that he posted earlier in the day.
Headlining the third row and starting from sixth on Sunday will be last year’s runner-up Samuel Guerin, who struggled aboard his EFC Group BMW but still managed to place himself inside the front two rows for Sunday’s doubleheader.
Young’s pole time will also make him the early frontrunner in the Yuasa Batteries Pole Position award standings, as he’ll take an early advantage over Casas and Szoke in that category regardless of Sunday’s results.
Tremblay’s stellar Saturday was followed by a historic outing in Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike, as he claimed pole position by over a second-and-a-half to smash the qualifying lap record, though his Superbike time was nearly a second better than his lap of 2:04.741 aboard the same machine.
Last year’s double race-winner is the consensus favourite to win the Sport Bike category and his first Pro championship in 2021, and he showed why on Saturday as he finished well clear of Turcotte Performance teammate Christian Allard in second.
Allard headlined what should be a close battle for second place, with the next five riders after Tremblay separated by just a second. David MacKay completed a Kawasaki front row lockout aboard his Mack Attack Racing machine, while Elliott Vieira placed his Snow City Yamaha in fourth to lead off the second row.
Julien Lafortune will start from pole position in the MotorcycleCourse Amateur Superbike category on Sunday, as the Nicolet, QC rider crushed the rest of the field by nearly an entire second, with Alexandre Cleary centering the front row in second place.
Brad Macrae became the first race winner of the 2021 National campaign, dominating the Brooklin Cycle Racing Amateur Sport Bike class with a clean sweep of pole position and the victory on Saturday.
The Perth Road, ON native held off a brief challenge from Bowmanville teenager Matthew Simpson, who settled for second in his Sport Bike debut after making the jump from the Lightweight class, while Nathan Playford completed the podium in the season opener at CMP.
The other event to run on Saturday was won by teenager Mackenzie Weil, who led start to finish in race one of the Super Sonic Road Race School Lightweight Sport Bike doubleheader to take an early championship lead aboard his MotorcycleCourse Kawasaki.
Weil was challenged closely by Jacob Black throughout the race, but Black’s last-lap pass attempt on the youngster nearly took both riders out as the enigmatic Australian was forced to settle for second.
“Things got a little squirrely at the end there, which was a bit disconcerting for both of us,” Black said, before dropping the quote of the weekend. “I just gotta’ have a beer, change my pants and go for the win tomorrow!”
Mike Maguire completed the podium in the first half of the doubleheader, benefitting from a late crash from Raphael Lacasse-Linteau who was in the lead group with Weil and Black until the penultimate lap.
Sunday’s action at Calabogie Motorsports Park will include a pair of races in the Pro Superbike feature class, as the full schedule – including Saturday’s results – can be found online at the series’ official website at www.csbk.ca.