Abbott, Catwell, Husbands among the victorious
James Abbott, son of the co-founder of Radical Sportscars, and local racers Kyle Catwell and Kenrick “Snappa” Husbands all entered winners row for the first time in the Suzuki Challenge Series before a massive crowd at the inaugural Barbados Festival of Speed at Bushy Park, St Philip on Sunday.
Suleman Esuf claimed his second SR3 Cup pole position in a hard-fought qualifying session on Saturday. Stuart Maloney, three times a winner at Easter Monday’s first round, was Q2, with brothers Sean and Mark behind, all covered by just under six-tenths of a second. Trinidad & Tobago’s David Coelho claimed his highest grid position, fifth, with English teenager Jack Manchester, sixth.
Abbott, whose father Phil was on hand to share in his success, started the first race at the back of the southern grid and quickly became embroiled in a battle with SR3 Cup newcomer Kristian Jeffrey of Guyana, Jeffrey’s countryman Calvin Ming, who had some new-car issues, and David Simpson. This group swapped places back and forth with Simpson eventually finishing seventh, ahead of Ming, Abbott and Jeffrey. At the sharp end of the field, Esuf led from lights to flag, although under constant pressure, while the top six remained in qualifying order.
With the grid for race two based on the reverse of qualifying, Abbott started on pole, and made the best of it, on a track drying out after a rain shower. He led from lights to flag, keeping ahead of an intense battle between Jeffrey and Mark Maloney, in which the Guyanese eventually prevailed, after losing second place for the middle portion of the race. Having started at the back of the grid after switching to his older-spec SR3, Ming fought through to split the battling duo for third place on the last lap, but was later disqualified for overtaking under yellows.
That promoted Mark Maloney to third, with Esuf fourth –– moving him up to second in the points table –– ahead of Stuart Maloney and Coelho. Jack Manchester was on course for a career-best fourth, but his race ended in a gravel trap after contact with Ming.
Having missed the first two rounds of the Swift Cup at Easter, Jamaica’s David Summerbell Jr (Team Simpson Finance) was on good form, claiming pole position by just one-tenth from points leader Ryan Wood (Team Digicel), with Husbands (Team Williams Industries) and Josh Read (Team Massy United Insurance) on row two. In the closest qualifying session yet, all 12 cars were covered by just 1.1secs.
Husbands made a good start, to tuck in behind Summerbell, chased by “Woody”, Read, Jason Parkinson (Team Infra Rentals/Sol) and Arron Parris (Team RBC). On the fourth lap out of eight, however, the Jamaican missed a gear, the slight loss of momentum sufficient for Husbands to rocket past and on to his first Swift Cup win. Summerbell held on for second, with Wood, Read and “Parky” completing the top six.
For the reverse grid second race, based on qualifying, Carlos Edwards (Team Rock Hard Cement) and Martinique’s Pascal Calvel (Team Suzuki) sat on the front row, ahead of Daryl Clarke (Team Digicel), who had missed the Easter weekend, and Catwell (Team ICBL). On a wet track, following a heavy shower, Catwell shot off the southern grid in determined mood, grasping a lead he would never lose by the end of the opening lap. Edwards initially held second place, but was demoted in turn by Wood and Clarke, as the Digicel team-mates claimed the other podium places, leaving Edwards, Parkinson and Barry Gale (Team Gale’s Agro Products) completing the top six.
Sunday’s action also included a programme of entertainment ranging from micro bangers to monster trucks; three-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton did demonstration runs in a Petronas AMG Mercedes F1 W04 in both dry and wet conditions, he also spent an hour signing autographs and gave four lucky prize-winners the ride of a lifetime in the passenger seat of a Radical SR3.