Regional drivers for ROC named
The two-driver teams selected to represent Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in the inaugural Race Of Champions during next month’s Race Of Champions 2014 have been confirmed.
They will race head-to-head against Barbados at Bushy Park on December 13, for the honour of their country being crowned ROC Caribbean Champion.
One driver from Barbados and one from the wider Caribbean will then qualifying for Sunday’s individual Race Of Champions, where they will race against champions from across the world. Already confirmed are NASCAR Champion Kurt Busch, reigning ROC Champion of Champions, Lotus Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean, nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen, World Touring Car Champion José Maria “Pechito” López Indy500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, FIA Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg, V8 Supercar Champion Jamie Whincup and Williams F1 test driver Suzie Wolff.
The regional drivers have been invited by the host country’s governing body, the Barbados Motoring Federation, after consultation with each territory’s motor sport association –– the Guyana Motor Racing & Sports Club (GMR&SC), Jamaica Millennium Motoring Club (JMMC) and Trinidad & Tobago Automobile Sports Association (TTASA).
Team Guyana will present a mixture of youth and experience, through members Kristian Jeffrey and Mark Vieira. The youngest of the regional drivers, at 25 years old, Jeffrey is a former GMR&SC kart and superbike champion, with karting titles also won in North America, along with the Canadian Automobile Sports Club Rookie of the Year 2013 on his car racing debut. During a 30-year career in motor sport, initially as a superbike racer, regional legend Vieira has won multiple GMR&SC Championships.
Team Jamaica will comprise Doug Gore and Jeffrey Panton. With more than 20 championship titles to his credit in domestic competition, Gore was Caribbean Rally Champion in 1997, won Rally Mexico in 2000 and has twice won the Caribbean Motor Racing Championship, most recently last year. Panton is an eight-time winner of Rally Jamaica, former JMMC champion driver, and is unique in having won the region’s “Big Three”, Rally Barbados on tarmac, Rally Jamaica and Rally Trinidad on gravel.
Team Trinidad & Tobago also features competitors with multi-discipline backgrounds –– Franklyn Boodram and David Coelho. Son of the legendary Frankie, Boodram is a seven-time TTASA national champion, with a distinguished career dating back 20 years. Coehlo is a former Trinidad & Tobago Karting Association champion, then enjoyed circuit racing success in TTASA’s Carib Beer Stock Car Series, before switching to rallying, winning the Trinidad & Tobago Rally Club Rookie of the Year 2010.
The BMF president Andrew Mallalieu said: “We are very pleased that, in conjunction with ROC and BPCI, we are able to provide a showcase for our Caribbean champions at this most prestigious event. We believe that events like this will strengthen our regional unity, and will be a stepping stone to creating a true Caribbean Championship at all levels and in many disciplines.”
The ROC Caribbean will be staged on the Saturday (December 13) of Race Of Champions weekend. In the group stage, the four national teams will race against each other in a series of heats, each comprising two identical cars over one complete lap of the parallel track. The final, between the two best teams from the group stage, will comprise three heats, with the first team to win two heats being crowned ROC Caribbean champion.
In addition, the driver from Barbados with the fastest heat time in the group stage (in a car both have driven) and the one driver from the other national teams with the fastest heat time in the group stage (in a car all have driven) will qualify for Sunday’s individual Race Of Champions.
The Suzuki ROC Barbados Challenge –– Suzuki Rocks! –– to select Team Barbados, is already under way, through a combination of on-line voting and driver challenges at Bushy Park, the first of which was at the recent Beacon Insurance BMF Club Meet on October 18 and 19. The selection process concludes during Suzuki Rocks –– the Final/JDM Squared Street Champions at Bushy Park on Sunday, November 9.
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