This week’s official launch of EasyKart Barbados marks the completion of phase one of a rolling programme to establish a ladder of opportunity that its creators hope will one day result in a Barbadian winning a motor racing World Championship, following in the wheel-tracks of karting graduates such as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel.
With the encouragement of the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF), whose President Andrew Mallalieu is a passionate supporter of developing young talent, Bushy Park and the Barbados Karting Association (BKA) have joined forces with Simpson Motors and Suzuki Caribbean in a co-ordinated approach to driver development, with details of phase two, the Suzuki Challenge, to be revealed soon.
EasyKart is a worldwide one-make series, with three categories –– 60cc Cadet, 100cc Junior and 125cc Senior –– allowing competitors to progress from entry-level karting through to adult competition. All the karts come from a single supplier, the Italian manufacturer Birel, and are identical. Only basic chassis and engine adjustments are permitted, so there is no development race, hence driver skill is of ultimate importance, which leads to exciting and action-packed racing.
Project co-ordinator Simon Willis explained: “Having a one-make karting series in Barbados has long been a topic of discussion, with many believing that it is the only way to create a sustainable, competitive and diverse field of competitors. As development is restricted in Easykarts, running costs are minimised and a stable grid can be developed, without fear of older karts becoming obsolete –– in simple terms, you can’t buy performance.
“Bushy Park Barbados, with multiple layouts on offer, is a huge plus, as it will allow for safe and effective driver development –– frankly, without it, I doubt that we could have launched this ambitious programme. We saw in last year’s Suzuki ROC Challenge that there is no shortage of local talent, we just have to nurture it in the right way.”
The newly-arrived EasyKarts will be assimilated into the BKA’s existing categories from the first race meet of the 2015 Frutee Championship season, scheduled for Bushy Park on Sunday, February 8 –– the 60cc Cadets already have their own class, while Junior and Senior will run in tandem with Yamaha 100cc and 125cc X30 respectively.
“While this year’s domestic karting season is set to be one of the most vibrant and well-subscribed in recent years, with larger grids including three very promising new female karters, there is a much bigger picture for us all to be excited about . . . the worldwide network that we are now part of. Being an official EasyKart operation allows international competitors to come here in the knowledge that they will be competing on a level playing field in familiar and equal machinery. Similarly, doors will open for our drivers to compete abroad, competitively and cost effectively . . . and this is key to the BMF’s ambitions for Bajan drivers,” Willis added.
Operating as a division of Bushy Park, EasyKart Barbados is the official importer of karts and parts, supported by Birel and EasyKart UK. Located just ten minutes from the Monza racetrack, home to the Italian Grand Prix, Birel has been building karts for more than 50 years. Since the EasyKart concept was created in the early 2000s, it has spread to nearly 30 countries, with the EasyKart World Finals staged in Italy each year.
Along with two of his most senior technicians, EasyKart UK boss Andy Cox, who has raced karts since his teenage years in the 1980s up to World Championship level, spent several days at Bushy Park last week to commission the 20 recently-arrived karts and meet existing and potential karters to explain the EasyKart concept.
Two days of technical and driver training followed over the weekend, with Cox’s coaching focused primarily on the youngsters in the Cadet class.
“The Bushy Park Kart Circuit is as rewarding to drive as any I have driven on around the world. And the young Bajan karters were just as impressive. They all showed a great level of natural ability,” Cox stated.