Track champs

Dramatic end to Suzuki Challenge Series

David Summerbell Jr. and Sean Maloney are champions of the Swift Cup and SR3 Cup respectively.

Each left the best until last, having sat in third place going into the final double-header at Bushy Park, St Philip on Saturday as the summer season of the inaugural Suzuki Challenge Series came to a dramatic floodlit conclusion.

Multiple Jamaican champion Summerbell (Team Simpson Finance) added two Swift Cup race wins to his three from earlier rounds, one each before and after nightfall, placing second in two more of the day’s six races, to amass sufficient points to claim the title, despite his first zero score for the season, in round six, race two. Meanwhile, his finish one place behind teenage daughter Samantha (Team Suzuki) in round five, race two, will surely be a topic of discussion at family gatherings for some years to come.

David Summerbell Jr.
David Summerbell Jr.

Ryan Peyrau (Team Suzuki) and Mark Thompson (Team Rock Hard Cement) were each ahead of Summerbell in the standings before the final, but endured a race day to forget. Series leader since round two Trinidad & Tobago’s Peyrau had three race wins and three consecutive pole positions to his credit. He qualified only fifth on Saturday, the start of a disappointing day, with third place in round five, race one, his best result.

From first-round leader Thompson’s perspective, things were even worse, losing fourth place in round five, race one to a penalty, then struggling to find his form for the rest of the day. Peyrau and Thompson slipped to third and fourth in the final reckoning behind an inspired Daryl Clarke.

The Team Digicel driver claimed his first Swift Cup pole position on the final lap of qualifying, then logged five podium finishes out of six, including two race wins (it would have been three, but for a penalty in round five, race one) to leapfrog into second place, 18 points behind Summerbell, while bringing the total of race-winners to six in the 18 races.

Two wins went to Clarke’s team-mate Ryan Wood, bringing his total for the season to three, while Clarke followed him over the Joker Lap on the last lap of round six, race two, for a Team Digicel one-two. Others to shine included: Jason Parkinson (Team Infra Rentals), whose solid results lifted him to seventh; Paul Bourne (Team ICBL), who scored points in all six races, including a fine second in round five, race two.

Samantha Summerbell put the experience gained in round four to good use, finishing five of the day’s six races in the points, with a best result of sixth, having run in a confident third place until just after half-distance.

In the SR3 Cup for Suzuki-powered Radical sports racers, qualifying and race lap record-holder Sean Maloney was in unbeatable form, at least in the first four races of the day. Having qualified second to brother Mark for round five, race one, he rocketed into a lead he was not to lose, closing the gap in the title chase.

Sean Maloney
Sean Maloney

Series leader pre-weekend, Stuart Maloney, looked set to reassert himself in round five, race two, until a mistake two corners from home handed Sean a second victory, with David Simpson claiming a career-best second place.

By now leading the series standings, Sean sealed the deal, leading every lap of the first two races run under floodlights, putting him more than 20 points ahead of Mark, who had also moved ahead of Stuart, thanks to two seconds and two thirds.

Stuart won round six, race two, briefly moving ahead of Mark in the points, but slipped back to third after the final race, a determined Mark Maloney snatching victory on the last lap on a day in which the shortened race distances for the SR3 Cup created some of the closest competition of the season, particularly once night had fallen.

Experienced Guyanese racer Mark Vieira, who had enjoyed his best weekend of a steadily improving season at the previous round, was not in luck on Saturday, two podium finishes in six races a disappointing end to the year, and fourth in the standings. Simpson added a further podium finish to his second place in round five, race two, to move into fifth in the year-end points table, ahead of Ryan Gonsalves of St Vincent & The Grenadines.

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