Gingras looking forward to World Driving Championship
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Yannick Gingras is looking forward to having a good time when he participates in the World Driving Championship, which will be held May 24-31 in Sweden. But the U.S. representative knows that for all the fun, it won’t take long for his competitive instincts to kick into high gear.
“Right around the first race,” Gingras said with a laugh. “I’m very competitive. No doubt, I’m not going there to finish second; I want to go there and try to win it. But I want to embrace the whole thing.
“I know many of the guys in the competition are really guys that like to win. It’s going to be a hard challenge. It’s going to be some hard racing, but I’m very much looking forward to it. You’ve got to have fun also. You want to try to win, but you also want to enjoy the experience.”
Gingras will be making his first appearance in the World Driving Championship, which was introduced in 1970 and is now held every two years. Twelve drivers from 11 countries are participating in this year’s event, which returns to Sweden for the first time since 2001.
Canada’s James MacDonald is the event’s defending champion. Other participants this year are Doug McNair (Canada), Eirik Hoitomt (Norway), Franck Nivard (France), Matthew Williamson (New Zealand), Michael Nimczyk (Germany), Mika Forss (Finland), Rick Ebbinge (Netherlands), Rodney Gatt (Malta), Todd McCarthy (Australia), and Ulf Ohlsson (Sweden).
Gingras has raced in Sweden on several occasions during his career. The first leg of the World Driving Championship will be at Solvalla Raceway with three races on May 24 and one race the following day. There will be no races on Elitloppet Day on May 26 at Solvalla.
The action resumes May 27 with five races at Lindesbergs Fornaboda followed by five races May 28 at Sundbyholm and five races May 29 at Dalatravet Rattvik. After a one-day break, the champion will be crowned after the final five races at Gavle.
“I have many friends in Sweden that we’ve met over the years,” Gingras said. “I love being there. I love the atmosphere; I love the crowds. I think it’s going to be a tremendous experience to be able to enjoy it in Sweden.
“As far as the racing goes, it doesn’t hurt that I’ve raced there in the past. But you also have to remember there are going to be guys from everywhere, so the style of racing is going to be a little of everything. You just have to go in there open minded and drive the race as it comes. I don’t think it’s going to be Scandinavian type of racing; I think it’s going to be like a free for all, really, in a way. We’ll see how it goes.”
Gingras has led the sport in purses four times in his career and finished no worse than second in each of the past seven years. He was named Driver of the Year in 2014 and 2017 by the U.S. Harness Writers Association and was the organization’s Rising Star Award winner in 2003.
For his career, Gingras has earned $171 million in purses, a total that ranks eighth in harness racing history, and won 7,153 races. Among his numerous accomplishments, he has captured 21 Breeders Crown trophies, which is No. 6 among all drivers in the history of the event, and was the regular driver of Foiled Again, the sport’s all-time richest horse.
The 39-year-old Gingras, who moved to the U.S. from Canada in 2001 and has been a resident of New Jersey for 15 years, was selected to represent the U.S. in the World Driving Championship by U.S. Trotting Association president Russell Williams.
“Yannick has been an elite, big race driver for the past several years,” Williams said. “He is a fan favorite, is always very good with the media, and he will be an excellent representative both on and off the track.”
Dave Magee was the most recent U.S. representative to win the championship, in 1995. The two other winners representing the U.S. were Ron Pierce in 1989 and Joe Marsh Jr. in 1974.
“It’s definitely a great honor and something I’m looking forward to,” Gingras said about being selected to represent the U.S. “I go into every race the same way; I want to win them all. If I get to (win the championship) it would be a great accomplishment. It would be something I remember the rest of my life.”
Following is a list of winners of the World Driving Championship.
2015-Dexter Dunn-New Zealand-Australia
2007-Christophe Martens-Belgium-Australia/New Zealand
2003-Mark Jones-New Zealand-Canada
1991-Maurice McKendry-New Zealand-Australia/New Zealand
1985-Anthony (Tony) Herlihy-New Zealand-Australia/New Zealand
1983-Robert Cameron-New Zealand-Macau
1981-Ulf Thoresen-Norway-Norway/Finland/West Germany/Italy
1979-Ulf Thoresen-Norway-Australia/New Zealand
1978-Kevin Holmes-New Zealand-U.S./Canada
1977-Ulf Thoresen-Norway-West Germany/France/Norway
1975-Keith Addison-Australia-Australia/New Zealand
1974-Joe Marsh Jr.-U.S.-West Germany/Norway/France
1973-Ulf Thoresen-Norway-Austria/France/West Germany/Italy