Stellar weekend for Parker in Leamington and Wheatley
July 27, 2009
After the cancellation of the national event at Niagara Motorcycle Raceway in Welland on July 11th due to rain, the Canadian Dirt Track Championship tour continued with a double-header weekend on July 18/19 in Leamington and Wheatley respectively.
For Kawasaki Race Team’s John Parker, it proved to be a stellar weekend at both of the Southwestern Ontario venues. Parker and his crew had spent countless hours prepping the bikes for Leamington, which was the first ½ mile showdown on the national championship schedule.
In addition to huge crowds, the events attracted the best Pro riders in the country as well as a number of topflight American guests. Weather conditions proved to perfect albeit a bit on the cool side. But the intense racing heated up both Saturday and Sunday evenings, much to the delight of the race fans in attendance.
The diligent work on the explosive Kawasaki bikes paid off in spades for Parker who holeshotted every race he entered both in Leamington and Wheatley. The weekend started off on a positive note with victories in both the Pro 450 and Pro Open heat races. By the time he crossed the finish in the Open class heat, Parker had gapped the rest of the field by more than a straightaway.
Parker found himself on the front row of the starting grid in both finals along with Don Taylor. The No.1 plate holder had also won his heat races but with a slightly better time, which gave him the pole position.
After nailing the holeshot, Parker lost the lead to Taylor a few laps into the 450 class final. Jon Cornwell went along for the ride putting Parker into third. Undaunted the multitime champion picked up the pace and swapped second place with Cornwell for a number of laps until taking firm control towards the end of the race. Unfortunately, a lapped rider held up Parker in the last corner before the finish line, which allowed Cornwell to squeeze by and retake second, forcing Parker to settle for third.
From the get go, fierce battles ensued amongst the front-runners in the Open division, with Parker again taking the checkered flag in a noteworthy third place.
The ¼ mile track in Wheatley proved to be a real test for both man and machine. Unlike the smooth technical oval in Welland, Wheatley is rough, fast, and very physically demanding. But Parker, who opted to ride the Open class only, tamed the challenging track as if he were taking a ride in the park.
“I decided not to ride the 450 class in Wheatley and focus all my efforts on the Open and score optimum points,” explained Parker. “Because Wheatley is so physically demanding, I didn’t want to tire myself on one bike and end up with mediocre results in both classes. For me it’s all about the Open class and I decided to put all my eggs in one basket.”
The decision paid dividends for Parker: he barnstormed his way to a heat race win, and qualified second for the final. His rival Taylor had won his own Open heat race by a few seconds over Parker, which again gave the defending champ the pole position. At the green light Parker at once set a blistering pace keeping a relentless Taylor behind him for more than half of the 15-lap feature. When all was said and done, the veteran had to bow to the youngster, but a solid second place went into the record books.
“I needed a good point’s weekend because at the Welland races earlier in the season I didn’t quite finish where I wanted to. If you expect to be in contention for the No.1 plate you need to consistently finish in the top three and that wasn’t happening in Welland,” said Parker. “The double-header weekend allowed me to make up a lot of ground. I felt in good form and the bikes were absolutely awesome.”
Parker made up a lot of ground indeed: he took over the points lead in the hunt for the No.1 plate and is looking forward to the next round on Saturday, July 25 in Welland, ON, where he will be on the gas for top three finishes.
John would like to thank the following people for their continuing and loyal support: Len Shpeley, Jake Vanroon, Connie Vanroon, Dawn Parker; and his valued sponsors who help to make it all happen: Canadian Kawasaki Motors, Inglis Cycle Centre, Scorpion Helmets, 26 Twenty Six Suspension, Hot Cams – Pivot Works, IM Leathers, Bickle Racing, Extreme Measures Kustom Paint, Saddlemen, Ron Wood Racing, A&A Racing.