Tremblay eyes first Suzuki win as Sport Bike heads east to AMP

The most unpredictable class in the Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship will continue east next weekend, as Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike and Bickle Racing Pro Twins returns to Atlantic Motorsport Park from July 20-23, presented by Pro Cycle and Kawasaki.

The middleweight category has continued its trend from 2022 as perhaps the most wide-open class in the CSBK paddock, with three different winners and seven different podium finishers in the first four races, though it’s the lone double-winner that stands above the rest with David MacKay leading the championship by 12 points.

The ODH Snow City Cycle Kawasaki rider quickly made up for a mediocre round one with a pair of victories at his home venue last time out in Grand Bend, leading every single lap of the weekend from start-to-finish. 

That momentum would lead many to assume MacKay will enter round three near Halifax, Nova Scotia as the favourite to extend his lead. In reality, he may not face any stiffer task than trying to hunt down Sebastien Tremblay next weekend.

Tremblay’s hiatus from the paddock lasted just one weekend before returning in round two, this time aboard an unfamiliar Turcotte Performance Suzuki, though his last-minute return went about as well as anyone could have expected as he finished second to MacKay in both races and challenged for the lead throughout race two. 

Now having taken a few weeks to fine-tune that Suzuki and get back to race fitness, Tremblay will return to AMP with a crucial advantage on his resumé, representing the only previous winner on the grid around the challenging “rollercoaster” circuit. 

His victory in 2018 was the first of his pro national career, beating a formidable duo of two-time class champion Tomas Casas and home phenom Jacob Shaw-O’Leary, and he would go on to add two more podiums at AMP in 2019 despite a shoulder injury. 

As if being the lone winner wasn’t enough, Tremblay will also take comfort in knowing his remaining rivals haven’t exactly enjoyed the best time out east in their careers, with 2022 race winners Trevor Dion and Jake LeClair not returning.  

MacKay importantly took a major step forward in 2022 with a pair of runner-up finishes, but just a single top-five result in his previous six races there will paint a different picture for the championship leader.

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that outside of Tremblay and MacKay, no other rider scheduled to take to the grid has ever even stood on the podium at AMP, meaning at least one name will be doing so for the first time in 2023.

The leading candidate amongst them is current vice-champion Matt Simpson, who had a mixed weekend a year ago with solid finishes of fourth and fifth but never really threatening the front of the field, something he will need to change if MacKay is closer to his 2022 form than the years prior. 

However, Simpson did impress at his previous appearance in Shubenacadie – albeit as a member of the lightweight class – finishing what was then a career-best second place, a result the Blackstock Motorsports Yamaha rider will aim to replicate.

Another name to keep in mind is the first winner of the season, Connor Campbell, who will be perhaps the story of the weekend regardless of where he finishes. 

The B&T MacFarlane/Kubota Kawasaki rider endured a terrifying, career-threatening crash at AMP one year ago, but hasn’t let that shake his confidence one bit, being quick to point out that he qualified fourth-fastest for that weekend and could very likely fight for a podium once again.

Elliot Vieira and Brad Macrae will each be looking for a very different kind of redemption as they journey east, having endured opposite ends of the spectrum in 2022.

Vieira fell just 0.063 seconds shy of the final podium spot in race two last season, a margin he hopes his new GP Bikes Ducati can overcome, while Macrae crashed out in both instances aboard his Colron Excavating Yamaha, injuring himself in the process and missing the final round.

As for Bickle Racing Pro Twins, the newest class on the schedule has stomached a slow build in 2023, with the limited entries joining the back of the Pro Sport Bike grid as part of a split-race effort.

However, veteran Jeff Williams has simply demolished whatever competition has been thrown his way, and it’s hard to envision that changing for the Williams Paving Aprilia rider as he returns to AMP for the first time since 2019.

Williams has gone four-for-four in the inaugural Twins season and has regularly fought his way up the grid against faster Sport Bike machines, something that may be even easier for him to do around the tight, twisty Nova Scotia layout.

Looking to at least secure the vice-champion spot will be 16-year-old Andrew Van Winkle, who has enjoyed an impressive campaign of his own with three runner-up finishes in four races. The Chilliwack, BC native will likely be making the longest trek of any CSBK entry, but an important one as he eyes a potential vacated crown in 2024.

The full schedule for the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike and Bickle Racing Pro Twins classes can be found on the series’ official website at CSBK.ca.