Honours were shared at the Wallerfield Raceway over the last weekend when the Trinidad & Tobago Automobile Sports Association (TTASA) hosted round two of the 2015 Seaboard Marine Caribbean Motor Racing Championship.
There were eight different winners in the nine CMRC races, while TTASA deserves great credit for completing its programme, as intermittent monsoon conditions caused a number of delays.
Just as first-round hosts Jamaica started the season leading the CMRC Country Championship, so T&T’s Team Tigers have now shifted the balance with an impressive 367 points scored over the weekend –– approaching 50 per cent of the total points awarded. Trinidad & Tobago now head towards Barbados in September with almost 80 points in hand over Guyana, while Jamaica have slipped to third. The Cayman Islands and Barbados are fourth and fifth.
Guyana’s Kristian Jeffrey (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII) claimed pole position in Saturday’s qualifying with a time of 40.256 seconds, the reigning CMRC champion and one of three drivers to dip below the lap record of 41.693s set last August by Holland’s Franz Verschuur in Franklyn Boodram’s Renault Megane Trophy. Trinidadian Evo drivers Kristian Boodoosingh (41.183s) and Gerard Carrington (41.651s) were second and third, with Jamaica’s Peter Rae (Mazda RX-7) fourth and fastest two-wheel-drive. (43.108s).
When the Group 4 field assembled for the first time –– around two hours late, thanks to the weather –– the first rolling start was abandoned under another sudden heavy shower. It passed quickly, however, and the 12-lap race got under way in very wet conditions, although the wide tyres of the Gp4 racers soon started to create a dry line.
Jeffrey led into Turn 1, with Boodoosingh and Carrington close behind, the former briefly snatching the lead on lap one. While Carrington dropped back, the two Kristians were neck and neck. Turn after turn Boodoosingh would nose alongside, then as the track dried out, each tried to force the other on to the damp to gain advantage. In one of the best CMRC races in a long time, the youngsters displayed skill beyond their years, especially when lapping the back-markers, Jeffrey winning by just three-tenths.
Carrington was third, ahead of Doug Maloney (Barbados, Audi A4 quattro), who had been working hard to fend off Guyana’s Danny Persaud (Mazda Miata); although he lost out to Persaud, the Guyanese spun, dropping behind Maloney and T&T’s Jody Ali (Subaru Impreza STi) by the finish.
In Race 2, Jeffrey again led at the end of lap one, but Boodoosingh was not to be denied again, moving to the front on the second tour and staying there. Rain came again shortly after he took the lead, slowing many drivers in the second half of the field, Boodoosingh, Jeffrey and Carrington lapping them before half-distance.
Jeffrey dropped back, his Evo giving problems, which helped Carrington to second place. Only Maloney finished on the same lap as the Evo trio, all four having lapped fifth-placed Rae on the penultimate lap. Persaud was sixth again.
Shortly after 6.00 p.m., with the track now almost completely dry, nine of the original 12 Gp4 cars lined up for Race 3. Carrington judged the rolling start best, chased by Jeffrey and Boodoosingh. Rae and Maloney soon retired, so all eyes were on the Evos and they did not disappoint.
Jeffrey snatched the lead on the third lap when Carrington got a little loose in Turn 3, then Boodoosingh got the better of lapping the back-markers, sneaking ahead of Carrington. His advantage was short-lived, Carrington back into second place a couple of laps later, both now gaining on Jeffrey, all three nose-to-tail across the line with two laps to go.
Carrington reasserted himself, then pulled away to win by 2.4secs, Jeffrey just managing to hold off Boodoosingh at the flag. Boodram finished fourth, his best result of a disappointing day in the Megane.
All three Evos had beaten Boodram’s lap record, but it was Jeffrey (40.528s) who was the fastest of the three, adding to his CMRC lap records at Bushy Park, St Philip and the Jamwest Raceway in Jamaica.
Reigning Gp2 Champion Mark Thompson (Honda Civic) set the pace in qualifying, almost two seconds faster than the rest, led by the Civics of Guyana’s Shiraz Roshandin and T&T’s Marc Gill and that was how they finished Race 1.
Roshandin got the jump at the start, but Thompson was past before the end of lap one, easing away to win by 8.2 seconds. There were just tenths between Roshandin and Gill, with Mark Williams an impressive fourth, up from 12th on the grid in the Civic driven to numerous titles in recent years by Jamaica’s Kyle Gregg.
In Race 2, Roshandin again made the best start, but Thompson assumed the lead before the end of the lap, taking advantage of the Civic strife behind him to pull away. Williams led Roshandin and Gill early on, but Roshandin moved into second, so was ready to assume the lead when Thompson’s car started smoking, leading Williams and Gill home.
Having completed only nine laps, Thompson started at the back for Race 3, but benefited from some confusion at Turn 1 –– Guyana’s Ryan Rahaman (Ford Escort MkI), spun –– and was fourth at the end of the opening lap, behind Roshandin, Williams and Gill.
Thompson dealt quickly with Gill and closed on the other two, to make it a three-car fight for the lead. His Civic started smoking again, however, then the rain started to fall just after mid-distance, so the order remained the same and the gaps extended.
Although the new-for-2015 Group 3 is not yet enjoying wide support, Guyana’s Persaud and Paul Vieira, scoring points for T&T in his old RX-7, battled away all day. Vieira retired half-way through Race 1, allowing Persaud a runaway victory from points-leader Gary Barrett (Civic) of the Cayman Islands, Guyana’s Afraz Allie (Toyota Starlet) and Jamaica’s Natasha Chang (Honda S2000).
After Persaud snatched the lead when Vieira ran wide at Turn 1 in Race 2, it took the RX-7 driver until lap nine to catch
and pass him while, in the day’s last race, Persaud led until half-distance, but Vieira closed in to win.
The Championship continues on September 12 and 13 at Bushy Park, St Philip, with the fourth round at South Dakota in Guyana on November 14 and 15.