Young crushes Superbike pole in return to Shannonville

Reigning Bridgestone Canadian Superbike champion Ben Young will start his title defence from pole position this weekend, torching the feature GP Bikes Pro Superbike field in BS Battery qualifying on Friday at Shannonville Motorsport Park.  

The most recent winner of SMP in 2019 returned to the historic venue in triumphant fashion, though it didn’t always appear like that was going to be the case after rival Alex Dumas set the pace in morning practice and eventually the Q1 session.

The 2021 champion set an early time of 1:05.058 and was able to sit on it for the rest of the Q1 fight, ultimately ending the first stage just 0.033 seconds off the 2019 pole position mark as the new Bridgestone tires adapted well to the warming conditions.

However, whatever hope Dumas had of that pace staying the same was quickly shattered by Young, as the Van Dolder’s Home Team BMW rider blitzed the top-ten Q2 shootout with an early time of 1:04.749, at that point almost a full second faster than his next closest competitor.

A pair of late stints for Dumas continued to close the gap, but the Purple Skull Brewing/Liqui Moly Suzuki rider ultimately could only get within 0.372 seconds of Young, who takes home his third consecutive BS Battery Pole Position award.

“It’s good to be back at SMP, and really good to be back on pole,” Young said. “It hasn’t been the easiest week, as we blew up the bike on the DynoJet and had to rebuild it at the last minute, so it’s a nice reward for the team and their hard work.”

Dumas would settle for second in his national race debut at Shannonville, though he feels he still has more pace to unlock in the two feature races this weekend.

“I got a good banker lap in, but then when we threw on fresh tires, I just wasn’t able to put together a clean lap,” Dumas said. “We’ll work hard in the race tomorrow and on Sunday to hopefully close the gap a bit.”

Third in the final Q2 session was 14-time champion Jordan Szoke, a half-second behind Dumas, who’s late hopes for a record 55th career pole position were cut short by a rare crash off the back straight.

Szoke was thankfully uninjured – the LDS Consultants Kawasaki team having already lost Trevor Dion to a hand injury this weekend – though the veteran was honest about his situation entering his return to racing on Saturday.

“The crash was my fault. I figured the 1:05.5 wasn’t going to be enough, so I was pushing through traffic and got pinched on the corner and it slid out from underneath me,” he explained. “I told myself I was just going to take it easy and ride smart, but I’m just so happy to be here. The last year has been tough on everybody, so I got to give a huge thanks to the team.”

Szoke will admittedly be doing a rain dance in preparation for Saturday’s forecast of consistent showers in Shannonville, setting up a potentially full wet race for the first time in years – conditions many believe will favour Szoke. 

The run of three different constructors on the front row was broken up by Sam Guerin in fourth, who placed his EFC Group BMW on the top line of the grid for the first time since his dazzling rookie season in 2020. 

Guerin was briefly third before getting displaced by Szoke, though he will still be happy to have snatched the final top row spot from Trevor Daley, who made a brilliant effort to snatch fifth and the top spot on row two.

The OneSpeed Suzuki rider could only bring himself within 1.5 seconds of pole on the second machine, but will have done enough to climb back into podium contention on Saturday in conditions that will also favour Daley. 

On the middle of the second row will be the IBEW BMW of Jordan Royds, who put in an impressive effort to finish just a second off a top-row spot. Next to him and completing the second row will be Tomas Casas, who flashed moments of top-five pace but in the end could only muster seventh for the Parts Canada Yamaha team.

Philip Leckie will start eighth for Tanlans BMW, leading off the third row and making four BMW machines inside the top-eight, while rookie teenager John Fraser of Nova Scotia was the top first-year rider in ninth for RLS Contracting Suzuki. 

Hailing from the opposite coast and rounding out the top-ten Q2 session was Paul Macdonell, who put in an excellent effort aboard his ACME Motorsports Yamaha to put two YZF-R1’s in the top-ten. Completing the third row but just missing out on Q2 was rookie Julien Lafortune, who put his SpeedFactory67 Kawasaki eleventh.

The full qualifying results for this weekend’s GP Bikes Pro Superbike field can be found on the series’ official website.