Somewhere within the bowels of the Honda transporter right now, Miguel DuHamel is probably kicking himself. Moreover, the Honda team managers are probably not too happy. DuHamel teased them and us with an almost win in the Superbike race today. The never-say-die Canadian tried a two corners from the end move to put the Honda by Yates' Suzuki, a move that almost worked, but heartbreakingly ended with DuHamel on the ground and the Honda sliding into the grass. And Yates on the podium.
Some people might be mad at him, and DuHamel angry with himself, but as a guy who watched DuHamel's first win and will probably see his last, I'm not disappointed in what happened. Not at all. Not in the least. In fact, I'm happy. I'm enthused.
Why be happy in seeing a guy throw away an assured podium placing? Simply because it's refreshing to see a rider refuse to lose. Look at the list of finishers in that race and decide for yourself how many of those finishers if faced with the same decision that DuHamel had to make--let off and finish second or dig deep and try for the win--would have chosen the safe second place? Lots of them. Some riders have the safe finish method perfected to an art form.
And, lets consider DuHamel's last two seasons of racing, which have seen him annually break his leg and have left him with a disability that if he were American could probably get him a Social Security disability check every month. With all that he has been through, all the pain and all the operations and doctor appointments, many other riders would have called it a career. Or looked for a nice cushy Harley ride to retire to.
Not DuHamel. DuHamel has the nad to look down the barrel of the gun one more time, and test fate again. He's there, leading, dicing and trying to win, desperately. Because as DuHamel knows, a career of safe finishes doesn't put your name on top of the all-time AMA Superbike win list, where Miguel's is deeply etched. And it doesn't net you a legion of loyal fans. When we did our favorite rider poll last fall, a full 70% of the respondents named DuHamel as their favorite.
Some riders seem to think that to be as popular with AMA Superbike fans as DuHamel, they need more television time, better PR or a thick joke book to entertain the fans. They don't. I think people respond to Miguel DuHamel the way they do because even after three broken legs and too many operations to count, he has the sheer guts to stare through the windscreen and try a brave move at 120 mph that is either going to make him a hero, or send him to the hospital. You can't learn something like that, it comes from a rider's heart. That's why he has so many fans.
His boss probably would not agree, but it really isn't that important that DuHamel's bold move failed. What's important is that after all that he has been through, he still has the balls to try a move like that, and think it feasible.
Even on the ground and rolling, it's clear that the DuHamel of old is back.