JUST one day after smashing his ankle in a crash at Pembrey this weekend, James McHardy rode to two podium finishes and the Suzuki Bandit Challenge title.
The series newcomer picked up his first outright win at Oulton Park in just the second round this year, and has been going from strength to strength ever since – despite his orange vest.
But the Herne Bay native’s trip to Wales didn’t go to plan this weekend. While trying out his new Kawasaki ZX6R on the Friday test day, McHardy suffered brake fade and crashed heavily, fracturing his ankle in multiple places in the process.
Missing the rest of the on-track action for the day, he knew he only needed 36 points to secure the championship. With teeth gritted, he persuaded the damaged leg into a boot and took to the Carmarthenshire circuit determined to clinch the title.
Post-Classic FP2 champ Phil Webber shot to the front in race one, but McHardy hung on and even managed to set the fastest lap of the race outright on his way to a third in class, just 0.09s behind Matthew Baker and 0.4 adrift of winner John Warwick.
With just 20 points required and his pain capacity filling, McHardy cruised to a runner-up finish behind overall winner Webber and FP1 victor Warwick, with Baker nearly nine seconds back in third.
“In race one I got a third place finish, but I was in pain,” he said. “Knowing I needed a second place finish [in race two], I went out with the bit between my teeth.”
“I managed to do exactly what I set out to do, so I’m now 2017 Black Widow Exhaust Suzuki Bandit Challenge champion.”
*Main image: Steve Snelling
*Side image: James McHardy