An already thrilling Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike season produced another epic showdown on Saturday, as rookie Matt Simpson took his first pro Canadian Superbike Championship victory after a five-rider battle for the lead in race one at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Most of the attention was on the championship fight between Trevor Dion and David MacKay, as Dion entered race one with a chance to clinch the championship. Instead, both riders were left to duke it out with a trio of contenders, as Simpson, Elliot Vieira, and Jake LeClair all ran within a second of the lead.
Dion and Vieira initially traded the lead across the first half of the race, while MacKay seemingly got bottled up back in fifth, but the latter began to benefit from his medium rear Dunlop tire in the second half of the race as the rest of the pack ran the soft rear.
MacKay began to carve his way through the field just as Simpson hit the lead for the first time, setting up a thrilling battle between the two that went right to the line, with the Evans Racing Yamaha rider executing a last corner pass to bag his debut victory by just 0.032 seconds.
“I had my best qualifying of the year, so I knew I had the bike under me, I just tried to stay consistent and hang at the front,” Simpson said. “Me and David had a really fun battle there at the end, I can’t wait to see it on tv at TSN!”
MacKay was perhaps the biggest winner in terms of the championship order, however, as Dion could only muster fifth, trimming the title gap from 22 points down to just 13 with the final race on deck tomorrow.
“I got a great start and grabbed the holeshot, but sometimes it’s not all that great to lead here, because I had three or four bikes go past me on the back straight,” MacKay said. “But I just put my head down and chipped away at it, and we picked up some good points for tomorrow.”
The final podium spot went to Vieira, who fell behind Dion in the late stages but managed a late-race pass of his own to claim third aboard his Snow City Yamaha, though he did become mathematically eliminated from championship contention.
“I managed to lead for a while but then I started to slip back a bit, but when I saw Trevor get in front of me I just thought ‘no way, I need to get on that podium’” Vieira said. “We wanted another win, but we’re in a good spot to come back and hopefully fight for the championship again next year.”
Both Vieira and LeClair managed to do some favours for MacKay, as LeClair ran a quiet race in fifth for much of the battle before making a last-lap move on a fading Dion, snatching fourth aboard his bLU cRU Yamaha machine to make three Yamaha’s in the top four.
It was almost a worst-case day for Dion, with the LDS Consultants Kawasaki settling for a shocking fifth-place finish to end his perfect run of podiums in his Pro career, and doing so at probably the worst possible time as he now finds himself under pressure from MacKay to decide the title on Sunday.