Despite painful crash, local champ eager to race again

Sarnia’s Will Hornblower, left, is tthe reigning Canadian Pro Sport Bike champion. He is seen here in 2019 racing against former champion Tomas Casas (1) and Sebastien Tremblay (24). Photo courtesy, Rob O’Brien / CSBK

Troy Shantz

Sarnia’s Will Hornblower was forced to sit out the first stop of the Canadian Sport Bike series last month following a brutal crash at Grand Bend Motorplex.

The defending Canadian champion is recovering from a fractured sternum and ribs, concussion, and stage-three shoulder separation after being thrown thrown from his 600cc motorcycle on the first lap of a practice run June 19.

“Didn’t even get one full lap in,” said Hornblower, 26. “It was a bit of an ‘oh (expletive)’ moment.”

Hornblower was coming out of a straightaway at 160 km/h and into the third turn of the 2.8-kilometre track when his bike rapidly decelerated, he told he Journal.

The front brakes on his 2012 Yamaha partially locked, the front suspension compressed and the back wheel reared, catapulting him forward. Track EMS was there in minutes, he said.

“My visor popped off and my glasses went flying,” he recalled. “Those are the bad ones when you get thrown in the air.”

Though recovery has been painful, Hornblower is determined to miss only one race. Pending medical approval, he intends to return Aug. 14-15 in Bowmanville.

“I’m confident in myself. We have a couple of track days before the weekend. I’ve done really fast lap times there and I love the track; it’s a fantastic venue.”

He will, however, also have to contend with his old rival, Sebastien Tremblay, who won the first stop of the multi-event series at Calabogie Motorsports Park in July.

Hornblower had edged Tremblay in dramatic fashion on the final lap to claim the 2019 Canadian championship, the last to be run.

New sponsors, who have provided more stability for his small team, have been supportive since the crash, said Hornblower, a graduate of Lambton College who went to high school at SCITS.

Yamaha Financial Services joins Yamaha Canada, Pro6 Cycle, Bickle Racing, DMW motorcycles and MotoWorld on the team livery in 2021.

“They all understand. Everyone knows it’s a definite risk, that falling off and hurting yourself is a definite possibility.”

Hornblower said his bike has been completely rebuilt since the crash. Team Hornblower, which consists of his father and two friends, manage and maintain the motorcycle, he said.

Several theories exist as to what caused the uncontrolled braking and crash, including bad brake fluid or a malfunctioning seal, he said.

“My entire pro career has been on that motorcycle. I’ve got faith in it. I’ve got faith in my father as mechanic, our race team, everyone who helps,” he said.

Hornblower, who estimates he’s had more than 30 crashes in his career, refuses to drive a motorcycle on public roads. In fact, he can’t because he doesn’t own a motorcycle street licence.

“It’s terrifying what (sport bikes) are capable of, and to put them on the street with little old ladies and people who are staring at their cellphone – it’s crazy,” he said.