Collingwood, ON’s Ben Young will start from pole position at the final round of the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship, after securing the top spot in the Mopar Pro Superbike class with a dominating performance at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Friday.
Young, riding a Scot-Build BMW S1000RR with support from new sponsor Barrie BMW, was fastest in the morning practice session and also in the first half of qualifying, albeit not by a huge margin. However, the former Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year got the most out of his brand-new Dunlop Q tires in the Dalton Timmis Insurance Top Eleven SuperPole, falling just short of the lap record with a time of 1:20.523.
His performance earned him the second pole-position of his promising career, with the other coming in round two earlier this season at the Grand Bend Motorplex. Though Young fell just short of his first career victory in that contest, he believes things will be much different this time around as he tries to unseat points leader Jordan Szoke.
“The bike was working so well today, and we’re really happy with the pace we had. Missing out on the lap record is a bit of a bummer, but we’re obviously thrilled with pole,” he said. “We’re here to chase the championship, and we’re going to make Jordan work for it, so hopefully we can pull out a win this weekend.”
As for Szoke, the three-time defending champion has now missed out on multiple pole positions in the same season for the first time since 2011, though that hasn’t seemed to hinder him as he sits a stone’s throw away from his record 13th title.
The Lynden, ON veteran was experiencing some troubles with both of his Mopar Express Lane BMW Motorrad machines, and although he has all but confirmed that he will be racing this weekend, the team is unsure if they will be able to run at peak performance.
“I’m happy to be up here, because we really haven’t had the best of weekends,” Szoke lamented. “The new bike that we had this weekend isn’t running, and the engine let go in the other bike which was really scary.”
However, he was quick to point out that his mechanical difficulties are not the reason behind Young’s stellar performance.
“I’m not trying to take anything away from Ben. He put in a heck of a lap,” Szoke continued. “I still feel comfortable, so now we’re just going to concentrate on the championship.”
One of the most pleasant surprises of the day was the strong return of Belfountain, ON’s Kenny Riedmann, who will start from the front row in third after nearly a year away from the National series.
The Sturgess Cycle/Riedmann Management Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja rider finished as the runner-up to Szoke in the championship fight a year ago before entering a brief retirement, though he showed no signs of rust at his home track.
“It’s great to be back. I’m really excited to be here, I missed it so much,” Riedmann said. “These guys are so fast, I had to work really hard out there. Hopefully we can stick with them this weekend.”
Though Young seems to have the edge heading into the weekend, setting a time exactly 0.468 seconds faster than Szoke, the top three all sit within half a second of each other and each could come away with at least one victory to close out the year.
It was a mixed day for St. Isidore, QC’s Samuel Trepanier, who is hoping to score his first career victory after a thrilling fight with Szoke at CTMP a year ago. The Blysk Racing BMW rider was forced to settle for fourth in the SuperPole session but is still within striking distance of the lead pack heading into race one on Saturday.
Rounding out the top five and leading off the second row on the grid is Inverary, ON veteran Jeff Williams, who is looking for a strong weekend aboard his BMW after a rough trip out East in round four.
The top Pro Rookie of the day was Sainte-Brigide-d’Iberville, QC’s Ernest Bernhard, who qualified 15th out of the 30-rider field aboard his Yamaha YZF-R1.
Topping the charts in the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike class was once again Ripley, ON’s Mitch Card, who won both races at CTMP last season. Things may have been more exciting this time around, however, as Card jumped to the top of the leaderboard with just under three minutes to go aboard his Fast Company Yamaha YZF-R6.
“It’s awesome. It feels really great, I’m so pumped for tomorrow,” Card said. “Last year we were kind of out of the championship after the crash in [round four], but this year we’re still right there so this is huge for us. Hopefully we can win ‘em both again this year!”
Defending champion and current points leader Tomas Casas was forced to settle for second after the late charge from his rival, though the Peterborough, ON teenager is excited to still be at the front as he aims to clinch his second Pro title this weekend.
Round four race-winner and double-podium finisher Jacob Shaw-O’Leary continued his momentum despite leaving his home track, as the Falmouth, NS youngster was locked in a thrilling battle with Casas for pole before settling for third behind him and Card.
The Magneti Marelli Amateur Superbike class appears poised for a thrilling finale, with championship leader Luc LaBranche narrowly settling for second behind St. Jerome, QC’s Alexandre Cleary and his Suzuki GSX-R1000.
LaBranche, riding a new Yamaha YZF-R1 for the first time this season out of Mirabel, QC, sits just nine points ahead of Ajax, ON’s Michael Van Ek, who struggled to seventh aboard his BMW.
The veteran LaBranche once again found himself second in the Parts Canada Amateur Sport Bike qualifying session, which ended nearly ten minutes early due to a red-flag incident. However, this time LaBranche – riding his traditional YZF-R6 – sits narrowly behind 16-year old Verdun, QC phenom Nicolas Meunier, who leads the championship aboard his Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja.
Though the Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike class is set to qualify on Saturday morning, the practice sessions still produced some exciting results, with Pro Rookie Cameron Walker topping the timesheets aboard his Kawasaki Ninja 400 “wildcard” entry.
The Oakville, ON youngster will be looking to play spoiler as he takes a weekend off from his ZX-6R Ninja sport bike, with Blackstock, ON teenager Jake LeClair aiming to clinch the inaugural trophy aboard his Yamaha YZF-R3. However, Toronto, ON’s Jacob Black could join Walker in the underdog group after setting the second-fastest time aboard his own Kawasaki Ninja 400, just slightly ahead of LeClair in third.
Full results, as well as the weekend schedule and event information, can be found on the series’ official website at www.csbk.ca.