2022 Canadian Superbike preview: It’s up for grabs!

Heading into the season opener, Alex Dumas holds the #1 plate from 2021. He might be the favourite, but the competition is going to look different this year, with Jordan Szoke out. Photo: CSBK

The 2022 Canadian Superbike season kicks off this weekend at Grand Bend. It’s shaping up to be a great year—it looks like COVID-19 won’t interfere, there’s a decent six-race schedule, and we have a mix of younger riders who are all capable of podiums or even a win on any weekend. There’s even an interesting new Pro-Am race series based on the old 300/400 class.

Who’s back?

The 2021 Pro Superbike champion, Alex Dumas, returns aboard a Suzuki GSX-R1000. Dumas was one of the big question marks this season. Last year, a combination of COVID and his aviation education meant he finally decided to race at home in Canada, instead of the US, where he’d been kicking butts and taking names for several years in MotoAmerica. There was some suspicion he’d head back to the States this year, instead of racing in Canada another season.

That’s not the case! Dumas returns, and at this point, looks like a possible repeat champ—unless Ben Young interferes.

The Pro 6 GP race on May 29 gave us an early hint as to who’d be hot this year, but with a four-weekend season, it only takes a small piece of bad luck for racers to see the championship slip away, especially if that bad luck comes on a doubleheader weekend. Photo: CSBK

Young returned to CSBK in 2021 aboard his BMW after sitting out 2020. He was second overall on the season, with 310 points to Dumas’ 341 points. He’s the rider most likely to challenge Dumas for the lead on any weekend, especially now that Jordan Szoke is on the disabled list.

That’s right. In case you missed our previous write-up, Jordan Szoke (Kawasaki’s factory rider) was injured badly in a pre-season crash (more details here), and will miss the first races of the year, probably the whole season, from what we’re hearing. He was the third guy you could pretty much guarantee would land on the podium every weekend, and challenge for the front.

That means there’s now more opportunity for a whole lot of other guys. In the past three or four seasons, CSBK has developed a crop of younger riders, guys like Tomas Casas (aboard a Yamaha R1) and Sebastian Tremblay (on a new Kawasaki ZX-10), who look capable of grabbing a surprise win. These up-and-comers will certainly challenge for the podium, although Casas is starting the season recovering from a broken wrist. That’s ruled him out of Grand Bend, and while he hopes to return at Calabogie, the next race after ‘Bogie is Shubenacadie—definitely not a place you want to be showing up with recovering injuries (although, having said that, Editor ‘Arris achieved his epic CBR250 series wins there with a fresh-out-surgery knee).

Sebastien Tremblay and Sam Guerin are both potential break-outs this season. Michael Leon is a solid threat at a top-five, maybe a top-three if luck goes his way. Also seen here is Ivan Babic, who performed very well at Calabogie last year before a DNF at Mosport. He and Steve Nickerson (not pictured) are unknown quantities still, but show promise. Photo: CSBK

As for Tremblay, he’s been dominating the 600 series the past few years, but this year, word is that he’s focused on the litrebike showdown.

Trevor Daley (Suzuki GSX-R1000), who’s seeing a CSBK career renaissance, will also challenge for the front. He’s taking things seriously this year, with off-season testing in the US and at Mosport. Expect results on-track, if he doesn’t run into bad luck. As well, Michael Leon (BMW S1000RR) will be looking to grab a podium if a spot opens up.

One other wild card: Sam Guerin should be returning, and if he’s in this year, and he can avoid the DNFs that plagued him last year, he could really upset the applecart. Guerin has a good team behind him now, and two new BMW M1000RR racebikes. He’s a solid rider with fast machines, and if he ties it all together, he will be a force to reckon with.

The season starts at Grand Bend this year, as Shannonville is off the schedule, maybe for good this time. Then there’s a visit to Calabogie (pictured here), then Shubenacadie, and everything wraps up at CTMP/Mosport. Photo: CSBK

Another note: CSBK homologated the Aprilia RSV-4 this season, but so far, no Pro team has announced it’s using the Italian superbike. Does that mean we can expect a wildcard entry from a US-based team, or even a Euro team? It seems unlikely, but it’s happened before, and resulted in excellent racing.

In summary: The battle for the front is likely between Young and Dumas this season, but there is going to be a whole lot of scrapping for positions behind them, and it’s likely that some of those other racers will put considerable pressure on the 1-2 slots as well. At this point, Young has raced every track on the CSBK schedule this year, and Dumas hasn’t, which could be a factor.

Where are they racing?

This season visits Grand Bend Motorplex on June 9-12, and then heads to Calabogie on July 9-10. The traditional mid-summer visit to Nova Scotia is finally back on the schedule, after missing the 2020 and 2021 weekends. This year’s Shubenacadie round is scheduled for July 21-24, and as usual, it’s a double-header.

Szoke, seen here announcing his 2021 season, is out for at least the start of 2022. Photo: Kawasaki

The season wraps up at Mosport … errrrr, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, on August 12-14. This is a doubleheader as well.

Note that, except for Shubie, all this year’s races are in Ontario. No rounds in Quebec, and certainly no races out west. There was plenty of talk about a swing to Alberta and BC pre-COVID, but for the past couple of years, the organizers have done well to keep the series going at all, and we’ve heard of no plans to head way out west again.

What else should we know?

The CSBK points structure has changed this year, with fewer points up for grabs. More of those points are dependent on qualifying success, and the points handout cuts off at P15 now, not P20. That will most certainly mean some more spirited scrapping in Superpole, and probably more back-and-forth battles on-track as well.

Those rule changes apply to all CSBK classes—and speaking of CSBK’s other classes, remember there’s also a new “Pro-Am Lightweight” class this season. This is sort of an evolution of the old Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike series, which focused on such machines as the Kawasaki Ninja 300/400, the Honda CBR500 and the Yamaha R3. The original Lightweight class had restrictive rules, keeping allowable bike modifications down so that cost to race also stayed low.

The new Pro-Am series allows much more motorcycle modification, and gives the 300/400-class riders a place to continue their racing career instead of being reluctantly moved on to a 600 series. Note that the usual weekend schedule for the old Amateur series may be disrupted due to the new series. Don’t expect to show up on Sunday and see both Amateur and Pro-Am races.

Of course, Pro Sport Bike, Amateur Superbike and Amateur Sport Bike all return as well.

And, if you wondered about at-the-track camping this year? At this point, it’s confirmed for all rounds.

Former CMG C-in-C Jacob Black has moved on, but is still riding green, as he works for Kawi now and is still aboard a Ninja in the CSBK series. He’ll be in the Amateur series this year, but with some solid results in 2021, he looks ready for a win and a move up to the new Pro-Am class.

How can we watch?

Although you may see some restrictions at the racetracks due to lingering COVID rules, spectators are very much allowed to be at this year’s races, after a couple of summers away.

You can find ticket sale info for this weekend’s Grand Bend round here. Currently, advanced ticket sales are still available.

If you aren’t able to make it out to a race in-person (if you don’t live in Ontario or Nova Scotia, it’s pretty difficult), then remember that CSBK will once again broadcast on TSN this year, showing the Pro Superbike race and other highlights of each weekend. Stay tuned for showtime announcements once each race is over.

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