DEFENDING CHAMPS RETAIN TITLE IN 2015 MOTOR RACING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Following a strong showing across all classes in the final round of the 2015 Seaboard Marine Caribbean Motor Racing Championship at South Dakota on Sunday, Team Guyana has won the Country Championship for a third straight year.
The home team’s impressive tally of 423 points rocketed them from third place to first, beating Trinidad and Tobago to the coveted title by just eight points.
Guyana’s Kristian Jeffrey (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) notched up a hat-trick of Group 4 wins to claim back-to-back champion driver titles; Paul Vieira (Mazda RX-7) won the inaugural Gp3 Championship for Trinidad and Tobago, defeating Cayman Islander Gary Barrett (Honda Civic), who had led all season. Marc Gill (Civic) doubled up for T&T’s Team Tigers, as the first non-Barbadian driver to claim the Gp2 title.
There was no doubt ahead of the weekend that the CMRC Superstock title would fall to one or other of the Guyanese Vieira cousins Stephen (Suzuki GSX-R600) or Elliot (Kawasaki ZX6-R). Few would have predicted a clean sweep of race wins for the third cousin, Matthew (Triumph Daytona), however, as Elliot rode to three top four finishes, claiming his first CMRC title.
Alongside the finale of the CMRC’s first four-round season, the Guyana Motor Racing & Sport Club’s (GMR&SC) final race meet of the season also included the first home track demonstration by Calvin Ming of the Formula 4 single-seater in which he finished fourth in the category’s debut NACAM race on the supporting programme at the Mexican GP.
Chairman of the CMRC’s coordinating body, the Caribbean Motor Racing Association (CMRA), Ray Rahaman was delighted the championship’s most successful season yet.
“After two years and seven events on four tracks, our association is now well set to expand and showcase our racing product in 2016. Over the course of the season, nearly 90 drivers and riders have scored points across the four CMRC classes, which is enormously encouraging. We look forward to next year with great eagerness.”
Jeffrey claimed pole position for Gp4 in Saturday qualifying in a time of 33.592s, ahead of a determined Mark Maloney of Barbados (Mazda RX-3), with T&T’s Kristian Boodoosingh (Evo 6.5) third, all three covered by just eight-tenths. Guyana’s Andrew King (RX-7), Kevin Jeffrey (Evo IX) and Vishok Persaud (Subaru Impreza) were next up.
The attrition rate was high among the ‘Big Guns’ with Jeffrey cantering to his hat-trick of wins, largely untroubled by the opposition. Boodoosingh finished second-third-second in the three 15-lap encounters to clinch the runner-up slot in the year-end standings, with Kevin Jeffrey, King and Maloney also making it into the top three during the day. Maloney’s fighting third place in race three – he finished just inches behind Boodoosingh – gave a hint of what might have been, but for earlier problems.
In Gp3, T&T’s Ravi Singh planted his RX-7 on pole from Vieira, with Oliver Tjin Liep Shie bringing Suriname to the table in his Civic. With limited track time, points leader Barrett qualified seventh but, despite three points-scoring finishes – eighth-seventh-seventh – could not amass enough points to cling to his advantage. Singh won two of the day’s three races, chased home by Vieira, who beat Singh to the flag by just six-tenths in the final race, enough to win the title.
Former Gp2 Champion Kurt Thompson of Barbados (Honda CRX) had three top-four finishes to hold on to third place in the standings, ahead of Guyana’s multi-tasker Danny Persaud, whose Mazda Miata had suffered a fire during qualifying. Singh finished an impressive year-end fifth, after just one outing, ahead of Jamaica’s Natasha Chang (Honda S2000), whose weekend at South Dakota was a frustrating one, lack of seat time compounded by problems with understeer.
There was also a new name at the top of the qualifying sheets in Gp2, Guyana’s Shan Seejattan (Civic), who started ahead of former champion Barbados’ Kenrick Husbands (Toyota Starlet), 2015 points-leader Gill and reigning champion Mark Thompson of Barbados (Civic). There were huge grids, testament to the growing popularity of the CMRC in the lower groups, with local drivers claiming all three race wins: Seejattan was beaten to the flag by a margin of just two seconds in race one by Rameez Mohamed (Starlet), but he beat his fellow countryman in the other two encounters.
Gill’s fourth-third-fourth finishes, although his worst meet of the season, were enough to clinch the title, while ‘Snappa’ Husbands (Starlet) and Shairaz Roshandin (Civic) also finished in the top three. Mark Thompson finished second to Gill in the final standings, with Jordan Powell’s (Civic) hat-trick of wins on his home track in Jamaica in March still good enough for third place, despite him not racing again. Seejattan and Mohammed slotted in fourth and fifth, with T&T’s Mark Williams sixth in the ex-Kyle Gregg Civic.
Matthew Vieira signalled his intent from early, claiming pole position for the CMRC Superstock races, but cousin Elliot, Joel Neblette, Carlos Mendonca and Kevin Persaud were all within a second. While close racing was the order of the day in all the bike races, Matthew’s hat-trick consolidated his third place in the title chase, behind Elliot, who finished second-fourth-fourth and former CMRC champion Stephen, whose fifth place in race one was his only points-scoring result.