It seems like not much more excitement can be packed into Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship weekends, but every round more and more stories are left on the cutting room floor by the time Sunday comes and goes.
From the major stories that require a bit more detail, to the countless hidden gems that never crack the spotlight, here are some added storylines from round one at Shannonville Motorsport Park.
All three of these riders earned their shoutouts on the weekend, but no amount of praise will quite do justice to the inspiring comebacks they each completed in round one.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say each suffered life-threatening injuries at some point in their recoveries, after Jeff Williams crashed at CTMP in 2020, Connor Campbell at AMP a year ago, and Jordan Szoke in the offseason leading up to 2022.
Szoke in particular has felt the effects most recently, having sat in a hospital bed fighting an intestinal infection just a few weeks ago. There was plenty of uncertainty as to whether he could even ride this weekend, reportedly weighing his options as late as 20 minutes before race two on Sunday, but the LDS Consultants Kawasaki rider battled through and scored a heroic third-place finish – struggling to even stand afterwards.
No less inspiring are the returns of Williams and Campbell, who each completed their fairy-tale comebacks with the taste of victory on Saturday. Former top Pro Superbike rider Williams has become the runaway star of the new Pro Twins category, dominating again on Sunday, while Campbell snatched his very first pro national win aboard the B&T MacFarlane/Kubota Kawasaki machine in Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike race one.
Many tabbed Vincent Lalande as the next great Canadian racing phenomenon entering his national debut at SMP, but it will be almost impossible for anyone to dispute that after a clean sweep in the Super Sonic Race School Amateur Lightweight class.
Still only 15 years old, Lalande was met immediately with stiff competition from North America Talent Cup graduate and fellow teenager Jack Beaudry, but the reigning MiniSBK champion rose to the task spectacularly.
A clean sweep of victories was made even more impressive by how he scored them, dicing his way through the lead pack, making aggressive but clean maneuvers in virtually any corner, and defending beautifully from the front – all with a broken quick-shifter.
It’s not often the name of former World Superbike rider Brett McCormick is used in the same sentence as anybody these days, but Lalande has put himself in that territory, and deservedly so after watching his introduction at SMP.
A popular criticism of the Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship in recent years has been how truly national it is – the “Ontario and Quebec Superbike Championship” being a common remark. Round one has proved that is no longer the case.
Rookie pro John Fraser out of Nova Scotia headlined a successful and well-liked east-coast contingent, scoring fifth in his first ever GP Bikes Pro Superbike appearance while New Brunswick’s Vincent Wilson won both amateur races in the EBC Brakes Lightweight Pro/Am. Corey Miller of P.E.I. also rode well in the Lightweight ranks, while two other Nova Scotian’s made the trip in Bailie Ives (Lightweight) and Bill Watkins (Amateur Superbike and Sport Bike).
Follow the map almost 5,000 km the other way and you’ll find just as much success. Rookie pro Paul Macdonell led a massive Alberta representation, scoring a pair of top-nine finishes in the feature Superbike class while John Laing briefly led in his Pro Sport Bike debut before finishing fourth in race two. Amateur star Philip Degama-Blanchet also showed well for Alberta, while Andrew Van Winkle scored a pair of Pro Twins podiums for British Columbia and the aforementioned Beaudry starred for Manitoba.
All-in-all, eight of the ten Canadian provinces were showcased at round one (Newfoundland & Labrador and Saskatchewan the lone exceptions), with more representatives of each province hopefully to follow.
The preseason consensus in the amateur ranks was that, while Andrew Cooney would be the runaway championship favourite, Mavrick Cyr had established himself as his closest challenger. That script completely flipped in round one.
Cyr swept both the AIM Insurance Amateur Superbike class and the Scorpion EXO Amateur Sport Bike category, a dominant performance for the Rizzin Racing Triumph team – one that includes his father, former top pro Jean-Francois Cyr.
“J-F” was a regular Pro Sport Bike frontrunner in his day and even a Pro Superbike race winner at St-Eustache in 2003, totalling three podiums in his feature class career. Now, his 18-year-old son appears to be following in his footsteps – something a lot rarer than most would expect in the Bridgestone CSBK paddock.
As it stands, only one father-son duo has ever gone on to each win pro national races – the famous tandem of Yvon and Miguel Duhamel – and only a few families have ever shared pro national podiums.
It may still be at least a year away as he finishes up his amateur tenure, but the younger Cyr has put the pro ranks on notice as he and his dad look to join that list, becoming Quebec’s latest young star in the process.