By John Hopkins
BOWMANVILLE, Ont. – The fight for second place in the Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada XR1200 Cup standings is a battle between a couple of wounded warriors at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park this weekend.
Deep Cove, B.C.’s Darren James has a 40-point lead over Toronto racer Michael Taylor in the standings entering the final two races of the season, but James is taking nothing for granted.
The Ruthless Racing / Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada-backed rider is competing with a snapped tibia, an injury sustained last weekend when he was participating in the North American XR12000 Invitational at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I’m here for the points, not for racing,” said James, who has qualified fifth on the grid for this weekend’s races. “This place is all right turns, so that’s put a lot of pressure on my leg, and I can’t twist my body on the bike very well. Even the vibration from the bike is uncomfortable. I’ll let my ego do what it can.”
James has not had surgery yet on the injury. After consultation with fellow racer Dr. Steve Walker, James saw a top limb specialist in BC.
“He told me not to fall down, and maybe we’ll pin it afterward,” James explained.
James can at least take solace in the fact that he’s better off physically than rival Taylor, who has made a shock return to action this weekend after badly breaking his femur two weeks ago at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant.
“Today is better than yesterday,” said the Mackie Harley-Davidson-backed rider on Saturday morning. “Yesterday was a shock. I didn’t realize how much I bend forward on this bike, and that’s difficult, and shifting is a challenge.
“I’ve been riding my bicycle since Monday, and I got a good sleep on Tuesday and had a really good ride on Wednesday, and that’s when I decided I could go this weekend.”
Taylor was seventh fastest in qualifying with a time of 1:39.038.
“Props to Taylor,” James said. “I didn’t think he’d be here this weekend but he’s a true warrior.”
The injuries to James and Taylor have removed a couple of challengers to Steve Crevier, who has a commanding 60-point lead in the class standings and has not been beaten yet this season.
“I’m totally bummed,” James said. “This was a track where I’m sure I could have challenged Steve. It’s a real race track and I knew I could go well here, so it’s disappointing.”
The Ruthless Racing team still has a couple of slugs in the chamber, however. Guest rider Michael Barnes of Boca Raton, Fla. qualified on pole with a time of 1:31.570 and Calgary’s JR MacRae will line up third with a 1:32.301. Maple Ridge, B.C.’s Crevier starts second on his MotoSport Plus / Dominion Lending entry after qualifying at 1:31.910.