Islander wins international harness racing championship on home soil
James MacDonald lives in Ontario now but grew up on P.E.I.
James MacDonald took home the title at the World Driving Championship yesterday at the Charlottetown Driving Park.
Though he didn't win the deciding race, his eighth-place finish in the fourth contest of the day was enough to clinch first-place in the harness racing series.
MacDonald was the only driver to have won at least one race each day leading up to the final races on Friday, and had a 26-point lead in the standings before the action started.
He finished the competition with 211 total points, beating second-place finisher Mika Forss of Finland by 18 points.
MacDonald said that his goal going into the competition was "to be in the hunt" when the series arrived in P.E.I. and being in the lead coming into Charlottetown raised the stakes for him.
"I don't often get nervous racing horses … but heading to P.E.I. with the lead, I felt a lot of pressure to get the job done and you know pressure's a good thing," he said.
I know I'm the world driving champion, but I realize I'm not maybe the best driver in the world, I'm just a good Canadian driver and I still have to get better and improve before I go try and defend my title in Sweden in two years time.- James MacDonald
"Never in my wildest dreams thought I would have a big lead going into P.E.I., and the crowd was absolutely insane last night. Every time I'd go by they were screaming."
"It was very surreal and I really appreciated [it]."
MacDonald lives in Ontario now, but grew up on P.E.I.
'Can't even put it into words'
The World Driving Championship held two race days in Ontario, and one each in Alberta and Quebec before the concluding races in Charlottetown.
MacDonald knew that all he needed to do in the fourth and final race on Friday was finish and the title was his.
"I was just trying to get through the race and try and keep my emotions in check and just get ready for the celebration after," he said.
The win isn't getting to his head though, as MacDonald flew back to Ontario Saturday morning for a race that night.
"I still have to get better," he said.
"I know I'm the world driving champion, but I realize I'm not maybe the best driver in the world, I'm just a good Canadian driver and I still have to get better and improve before I go try and defend my title in Sweden in two years time."
MacDonald is the fourth Canadian to win the event and the first to do so on home soil.
He beat out 10 other racers from nine different countries to win the $25,000 prize.
"It was a fun thing to do and really exciting and just to be the winner of it was, I can't even put it into words how happy I was."
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