CSBK Untold: Extra Storylines from Round Two at Grand Bend

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 two at the Grand Bend Motorplex.

Bridgestone success in full swing

The majority of opinion in round one seemed to be that the Bridgestone era would be a step in the right direction. The durability of the new BATTLAX rubber is substantial, and the support from Bridgestone staff equally as impressive, though the one drawback was that the outright pace seemed to be slightly slower.

It’s safe to say round two proved that wrong, as well.

A total of nine lap records were produced across the weekend, seven in the dry and two in the wet, with six of the seven national classes entering brand new territory of single-lap pace at the Grand Bend Motorplex.  

Ben Young would smash the feature Pro Superbike race lap record by nearly a half-second, while the biggest dry improvement came in the Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike category as Vincent Lalande went 0.668 seconds faster than his predecessors. 

The true breakthrough can be found in full wet conditions, however, where the average time of improvement was a staggering two seconds clear over the previous rain records. It’s not difficult to see why almost every pro has praised Bridgestone on the podium, with round two demonstrating the difference so far in 2023.

Daley’s historic Superbike charge

It’s not often a rider who misses the podium is the star of a race, but Trevor Daley was unquestionably that in race two on Sunday. 

The OneSpeed Suzuki rider crashed on lap two chasing Alex Dumas for his first career Pro Superbike win, re-entering the race as the last rider on track in 14th. Then, one of the greatest in-race comebacks in CSBK history began.

Daley would cross the line just two laps later in ninth, and had made his way up to seventh by the halfway point. He finally worked his way into fourth by lap 13, but it then seemed like that would be all as he sat 14 seconds behind the podium places. 

Flash forward six laps later, and Daley – charging two-seconds per lap faster – had entirely reeled in not just Trevor Dion in third, but also Chris Pletsch for second, taking the chequered flag only 0.073 seconds off the podium and nearly 50-seconds clear of where he had re-entered the race. 

While Daley still left Grand Bend chasing his elusive debut win, Sunday proved his status as thus far the greatest rider to have never tasted victory, a result that has to be just on the horizon. 

SOAR showcases its talent

Every trip to Grand Bend typically serves as a selling point for the SOAR regional series, and 2023 was no different. 

While the likes of David MacKay and Trevor Dion are as much embedded in the history of CSBK as they are SOAR, the opposite is true for Chris Pletsch, who was sought after in the national paddock for some time. It’s now easy to see why.

The Stratford Cycle Centre Honda rider qualified second ahead of his first-ever national Pro Superbike weekend and finished there on Sunday, ending a near eight-year drought for Honda on the feature class podium as he was joined by his friend Dion in third. 

Outside of Superbike, it was also a breakthrough weekend for Pro Sport Bike rookies Zoltan Frast (fourth on Saturday), Sebastian Hothaza (at one point in the top-five on Sunday), and Jordon Bauer (seventh on Sunday), all SOAR regulars.  

The trend continued in the amateur ranks with local teenager Bryce DeBoer enjoying a career-best weekend in both classes, while SOAR runners Tyler Brewer and Adam Wilson also bagged top-five finishes. Not to be outdone was Sebastian Silva in the lightweight categories, earning a debut national podium in Pro/Am on Saturday.

Tremblay’s triumphant return

Not a single person in the Bridgestone CSBK paddock was doubting Sebastian Tremblay’s talent upon his return, but some doubted how quickly he would adjust to his new Turcotte Performance Suzuki, having spent almost a decade with Kawasaki. 

Two runner-up results later and now sitting fourth in the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike championship despite missing two races, it appears even that was foolish.

Tremblay immediately planted himself in the top-three on Friday and was already challenging David MacKay for a race two victory on Sunday, putting the entire grid on notice as he still gets familiar with his GSX-R600R and works back into race fitness. 

A previous winner at Atlantic Motorsport Park, Tremblay is now the overwhelming favourite entering round three on the east coast, something nobody would have seen coming even two weeks ago as he sat on the sidelines in round one.

The path to a second Sport Bike championship will be difficult after two absences, but Tremblay proved once again not to count him out after his spectacular return. 

The youth movement continues

The last decade of CSBK has seen a handful of teenage talents come through the system, but few have commanded the spotlight the way the current crop of youngsters is.

Plenty of attention has already been given to 17-year-old Pro Superbike rookie John Fraser, as well as 18-year-old Mavrick Cyr and 15-year-old Vincent Lalande who each lead amateur championships, but less has been said about the other teenage stars around them.

Sixteen-year-old Andrew Van Winkle fought through an ankle injury to score another pair of podiums in the Pro Twins class, sitting second in the championship. The success also continued for 15-year-old Philip Degama-Blanchet, who is already becoming a fan-favourite as he sits third overall in Amateur Superbike and fourth in Sport Bike.

Lalande’s historic start in the lightweight class has also distracted from 16-year-old Jack Beaudry who remains in the championship mix, while former lightweight star Mack Weil remains competitive in the amateur ranks at just 19 years old.