The wait for David MacKay’s first national title is finally over, as he officially wrapped up the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike championship in the last day of the Bridgestone CSBK season at Shannonville Motorsport Park on Sunday.
MacKay needed only to finish 14th or higher to seal the middleweight trophy, but there were still some nervous faces in the ODH Snow City Cycle Kawasaki team as title rival Matt Simpson took the lead on lap one and MacKay faded into a six-rider battle for second.
The concern was short-lived, though, as race one winner Sebastien Tremblay hunted down Simpson and snatched the race lead just as MacKay allowed a trio of riders through to settle into a more comfortable gap.
Simpson had just started to lose touch with Tremblay and come under fire from Elliot Vieira and Brad Macrae when a crash further down the order brought out the red flag, with MacKay fifth at the time of the stoppage.
That would prove to be the final result, as the race did not restart and Tremblay scored the victory, but the real celebrations would begin in MacKay’s pits as he clinched the only thing left missing from his impressive Sport Bike resumé after finishing as the title runner-up in each of the last two years.
“This is a long time coming. Long overdue,” MacKay said. “Every year this is the goal, but to finally accomplish it is a once in a lifetime feeling. Now we just get to celebrate!”
The long-time Sport Bike frontrunner wouldn’t confirm anything as he soaked in the moment, but left a slight hint about his future as many expect him to graduate to the feature Pro Superbike class instead of defending his #1 plate in 2024.
“So many people helped make this possible, so I’m happy to reward them and now we can move on to even bigger and better things,” MacKay said.
The trophy celebration overshadowed what was another incredible performance from Tremblay, who ended the year in red-hot form with a third consecutive victory and second in a row aboard the revamped Turcotte Performance Suzuki GSX-R750.
“It was a tough battle for me, as again I did not get a great start, but I was able to gradually fight my way through as the race went on,” Tremblay said. “It’s been a great weekend for us. Unfortunate to end it on a red flag, but happy to showcase an awesome bike in the 750.”
The win – the 12th of his Sport Bike career – also moves Tremblay one clear of Kenny Riedmann (who was in attendance at SMP) for fifth on the category’s all-time list, while he ties MacKay for tenth on the all-time podium list as well.
While Simpson’s title hopes were struck down in the last race of the year, the Blackstock Motorsports Yamaha rider was happy to end his breakout season on the podium in second as he builds towards another potential title challenge in 2024.
“We knew it would be hard to make the points up, but it’s been a great fight with David all year so we tried our best, and congrats to him,” Simpson said. “It’s obviously a bummer, but to come home second today and in the championship makes us pretty happy for the season.”
Completing the podium was Vieira, who continued his own streak of four consecutive podiums as he continues to come to grips with his GP Bikes Ducati.
“It hasn’t really been the year we wanted, but we’re glad to be up on the podium here again today,” Vieira said. “The bike is handling really well and we’re starting to get in a groove, so hopefully it can continue next year.”
The Suzuki-Yamaha-Ducati lineup on the podium means that Kawasaki’s record-breaking streak of 34 consecutive races on the box will finally end, a stretch dating back to St-Eustache in 2018, though they aren’t likely to lose sleep over it after MacKay helped secure the brands 15th Sport Bike crown and third in a row.
Just missing the podium was Macrae, who put all kinds of pressure on Vieira and briefly got past the Ducati rider before the red flag came out, leaving the Colron Excavating Yamaha team seventh in the final standings.
Double-amateur champion Mavrick Cyr was a notable star early in his pro debut, choosing to leave the amateur ranks early after clinching both titles on Saturday. The 18-year-old Rizzin Racing Triumph rider worked his way as high as sixth in the opening laps and in the podium mix before settling into a strong ninth in his maiden appearance.
Another teenager who enjoyed a fantastic day was Andrew Van Winkle, who became the youngest pro champion in CSBK history by winning the Bickle Racing Pro Twins class race.
The 16-year-old FD Racing Suzuki star didn’t even need to enter on Sunday as he was four points clear of the injured and absent Jeff Williams, but added an exclamation point to his sensational year by beating veteran Hans Van Sleuwen as he celebrated the historic title from the top of the box.
“It was a hard few laps, and I actually had a few scary moments out there, but I’m up here to talk about it so it ended up okay,” he joked. “I’m really happy to win the race as well and excited to bring home the #1 plate.”
The Chilliwack, BC phenom said he was undecided on whether or not he would defend that championship, with a possible move to the front of the Sport Bike class on the horizon for the inaugural Twins champion.
The full results from Sunday’s final day of the Sport Bike and Twins season can be found on the series’ official website at CSBK.ca.