Support Preview: Cyr chases perfection in amateur ranks at AMP

After a long summer break, the Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship will finally return to the east coast next weekend, July 20-23, as the amateur classes try to navigate a tricky Atlantic Motorsport Park event, presented by Pro Cycle and Kawasaki.

Those amateur ranks have become almost synonymous with the success of Mavrick Cyr this season, as the 18-year-old has completely dominated what is normally a very unpredictable division of the Bridgestone CSBK ladder.

Taking consecutive wins in both AIM Insurance Amateur Superbike and Scorpion EXO Amateur Sport Bike, Cyr heads to Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia with a pair of comfortable title leads in place, but the Rizzin Racing Triumph rider is likely eyeing something far more historic; perfection.

Never before has anyone swept both amateur classes in the same season, but Cyr can now put himself halfway there with a doubleheader round three, albeit at a notoriously tricky circuit that’s been known to throw plenty of curveballs over the years. 

That may not faze Cyr one bit, however, as he will be returning to AMP for the first time since scoring his maiden amateur podium a year ago, and what would turn out to be his only two podiums of the 2022 season. 

What’s even more unclear is who will be challenging Cyr at the front next weekend, as preseason favourite Andrew Cooney – who has yet to even confirm his entry – has never been to the east coast “rollercoaster.”

Trailing Cyr by 24 points in Scorpion EXO Amateur Sport Bike, it may already be too late for Cooney to mount a championship charge regardless, but his 12-point deficit in the AIM Insurance Amateur Superbike class is much more manageable for the Fast Company Honda team.

With or without Cooney, the next name to watch may instead be 15-year-old Philip Degama-Blanchet. After a quietly solid CSBK debut in round one, Degama-Blanchet scored his maiden podium in round two and moved to third in the Amateur Superbike championship, sitting one spot lower in fourth for Amateur Sport Bike.

The Calgary, Alberta native has been gaining momentum with regional wins closer to home and is hoping that can now propel him to the top step of a national podium, though it will be the ultimate test to try and do so at AMP.

Another name to keep in mind for Amateur Superbike contention will be local rider Tim Storer, the lone returning podium finisher from a year ago. Storer finished second and even led at his home track, and could be in line for an upset victory as he’ll carry far more track knowledge into his home facility.

While Cyr has made the amateur ranks mostly straightforward in 2023, the opposite has been true of the two lightweight classes, where a pair of wide-open divisions will enter the eastern venue.

Leading the charge is 15-year-old sensation Vincent Lalande, who maintains a 28-point lead atop the Super Sonic Race School Amateur Lightweight class. The reigning MiniSBK champion has taken 104 out of a possible 116 points thus far, leading in every race while sweeping the first round and earning a pair of runner-up results in round two.

However, none of his results have come by any comfortable margin, with numerous last-lap battles deciding the race winner between himself and the likes of Vincent Wilson, who won twice in Grand Bend, fellow teenager Jack Beaudry, and class veteran Justin Marshall. 

Wilson may be the de facto favourite entering his home race, as the New Brunswick native took his first national victory in race one there a year ago and nearly won again on Sunday. 

The closest title threat to Lalande will have a huge leg up in terms of track expertise, though both Lalande and Beaudry have shown a very quick ability to adapt, while Marshall also has more experience to draw from than the rest of the group combined.

The other X-factor could be the mysterious status of Avery Hart, the former lightweight title contender who made his triumphant return in 2022. The championship runner-up in 2019, Hart crashed out of the battle for the lead in race one a year ago before winning race two, the Nova Scotian being very experienced around his home layout.

Alongside the feature lightweight category will be the EBC Brakes Lightweight Pro/Am, where Stacey Nesbitt takes a slim title lead to AMP amongst the Pro’s while Wilson carries an even smaller margin in the Amateur split.

Nesbitt will have past success to draw from at “Shubie,” having won there en route to her own junior championship in 2012 and again as an Amateur Sport Bike rider in 2015, but will have a tough benchmark to beat in the form of another former winner – local legend Gary McKinnon.

McKinnon hasn’t slowed down one bit despite being the oldest rider in the paddock, having won race one at his home track in 2022 and nearly doing so again in race two, smashing the lap record in the process.

He will need to replicate that in 2023, however, as missing round one has put the former Pro Superbike star on the back foot in the championship entering round three, sitting fifth in the Pro split.

As for the Amateur title race, Wilson will be the favourite to extend his lead in that half of the category, but with local riders Baillie Ives and Corey Miller also expected to move closer to the front at their familiar stomping ground.

Each of the four amateur classes will also continue their fight for the Surron Electric Rider Award, where Cyr currently leads from Wilson and Pro/Am race winner Ryan Vanderputten in the quest to win a Surron Light Bee electric bike. 

Each of the three have recorded two fastest laps on the campaign thus far, but Cyr – contesting the seven-race Amateur Superbike season while the other two will race ten times in lightweight – will own a slighty larger percentage at 29% of the possible fastest laps, with Wilson and Vanderputten just behind at 20%.

The full schedule for next weekend’s amateur racing can be found on the series’ official website at CSBK.ca.