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First Chances To Represent Canada

Published: May 9, 2018 9:13 am ET

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One week from today, the first two drivers with the opportunity to represent Canada at the 2019 World Driving Championship will be determined as nine of Ontario's top drivers will square off in the Ontario Regional Driving Championship (ORDC) at The Raceway at The Western Fair District in London, Ont.

Of the drivers slated to compete, two are first-time entrants in a Regional Driving Championship -- Jonathan Drury and J Harris. Drury, 29, from Guelph, Ont., is coming off his sixth straight season with more than 100 wins and purses exceeding $1 million. In 2017, he posted his third straight $2 million season with more than $2.4 million in purse earnings to lift his career earnings to $15.3 million while winning nearly 1,200 races.

Hagersville native J Harris, 33, had his best year in the racebike in 2017 with 269 wins -- fourth best in the country -- and more than $1.5 million in purse earnings. Harris holds more than 1,300 career wins with purses in excess of $7.5 million.

Trot Insider asked Drury (JD) and Harris (JH) a number of questions in advance of the Ontario Regional. The draw for the May 16 driving competition takes place this Friday, May 11.

What were your thoughts when you got the call to participate in the Ontario Regional Driving Championship?

JD: I was actually kind of surprised when I got the call. I’ve never had a chance to participate in anything like this so it’s definitely exciting.

JH: Thrilled, proud that my numbers have elevated me to this level.

What are your thoughts on driving with the eight other guys in the championship?

JH: I've driven with all of them before and they are all great drivers, Ontario’s best really. It will be challenging for sure because they are all sharp-minded, so I will have to work really hard, but if I get good horses, I should have a good go.

JD: They are all great drivers and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, especially for the fans watching.

How does it feel to have the opportunity to represent your province in the National Driving Championship and possibly represent Canada in Sweden?

JD: I think it would be very exciting to have the chance to represent your province and potentially have the chance in what would likely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience of going to Sweden to represent your country.

JH: It would be a trip of a lifetime; you get a chance to represent your country overseas, and there isn’t anything more rewarding then that.

Do you think you have any advantage over the other drivers?

JH: I might know some of the horses better than the guys coming from Woodbine/Mohawk because I race against the horses every week. So, I’d say maybe a slight advantage with knowing the horses, but these guys are great drivers and they will figure out the horses pretty fast.

JD: I don’t think I have any advantage over anyone, they are all great drivers that I will be competing against.

Are you doing anything to prep for the Ontario Regional Driving Championship?

JD: I’m trying to watch as many races from Western Fair and Flamboro as possible to try and get to know the horses that race there a little better.

JH: Just waiting until the draw comes out and then I’ll watch some replays to see what my horses can and can’t do. I think it might get aggressive, so I will have to see what my horses can handle.

Anything you are particularly looking forward to about the Ontario Regional Driving Championship?

JH: I hope I get some good horses so I can be a good threat in the competition, it's good exposure and is going to be a good first experience.

JD: I’ve always enjoyed racing at The Raceway whenever I’ve had the chance to go. It’s a great facility and they always do a good job putting on a show for the fans. I’m just looking forward to competing in this in general and I think it’s going to be a fun night.

Drury and Harris will line up against Alfie Carroll, Trevor Henry, Jody Jamieson, Bob McClure, Doug McNair, Robert Shepherd and Louis-Philippe Roy on May 16. The nine drivers will participate in eight of the nine competition races. Each race will have a field of eight and each driver will compete in eight races, drive from every post position, and sit out for one race.

Drivers will receive points based on their finishing position and the top two drivers from the nine-race competition will join six other drivers at the 2018 National Driving Championship (NDC) at Grand River Raceway.

The winner of the 2018 NDC will have the opportunity to represent Canada in the WDC, and join 2017 World Driving Champion, James MacDonald, in the 2019 WDC in Sweden.

Here are the locations and dates for the four regional events (in chronological order):

Ontario Regional (Includes drivers from Ontario)
The Raceway at Western Fair District -- Wednesday, May 16

Western Regional (Includes drivers from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba)
Century Downs -- Saturday, June 23

Atlantic Regional (Includes drivers from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island)
Truro Raceway -- Friday, June 29

Quebec / Eastern Ontario Regional (Includes drivers that compete regularly at Kawartha Downs and Rideau Carleton Raceway in addition to Hippodrome 3R)
Kawartha Downs -- Saturday, June 30


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