The likes of Jamaica’s David Summerbell Jr., Trinidad and Tobago’s Ryan Peyrau and Barbados’ Mark Thompson are among a quality field for this weekend’s Suzuki Challenge Series Swift Cup at Bushy Park, St Philip.
But if the prospects were not already enthralling because of the drivers’ prowess, organisers have now added a Joker Lap for Saturday and Sunday’s round four of the series as a salute to next month’s Red Bull Global Rallycross meeting at Bushy Park. Three races each for the Swift Cup and SR3 Cup will feature on a 23-race programme at the Williams Industries Digicel International Race Meet, alongside the Seaboard Marine Caribbean Motor Racing Championship (CMRC).
The Joker Lap will pass over the Rallycross Bridge before returning to the main track in the Banks Esses. The rules are simple: each driver must take the Joker Lap once per race, on any lap, apart from lap 1. A driver’s failure to do so will result in disqualification, while unsafe exit from or re-entry to the main track will earn a penalty. The Joker Lap changes the length of the lap significantly, forcing a strategic decision about when to use it. The joker lap is basically a small section of the track which has an extra lane that adds about two seconds to the lap time.
Series leader Peyrau (Team Suzuki) expressed his liking for the introduction of the innovation.
“The Joker is a great addition because all drivers have to strategise when will be the right time to take it. I am very excited to try the Joker and see the outcome,” he said.
Summerbell Jnr, whose daughter Samantha joins the Swift Cup lineup this weekend, noted the lap would be especially exciting for fans.
“The Joker Lap is sure to be exciting for spectators and drivers, as it’s going to change the running order every time a competitor uses it. The way I see it, the key is to be in the right position at the right time to take advantage when these changes happen, especially on the last lap.”
Ryan Wood (Team Digicel) said he was looking forward to the challenge that could work out to be either an advantage or disadvantage.
“It will definitely spice things up. I’m looking forward to it, as it adds to strategy and changes racing tactics. Taking the Joker Lap could work as an advantage or a disadvantage, depending when you take it. If you’re challenging for a position, then take the Joker Lap ––when you re-enter you can find yourself in traffic or, better yet, clear field, depending on what happens around the track,” Wood said.
At the mid-point of the season, Peyrau has a 39-point advantage in the standings, with four victories in nine races. Thompson (Team Rock Hard Cement), who led the series after round one, has won twice, with fourth-placed Wood, Barry Gale (Team Gale’s Agro Products) and Summerbell Jr. (Team Simpson Finance) the other winners.
Consistent results have Wood’s team-mate Daryl Clarke and Josh Read (Team Massy Insurance) lying third and fifth respectively, so a new Swift Cup race-winner cannot be far away.
Competition is much tighter at the top of the SR3 Cup, which offers the fastest racing in the region in the Suzuki-powered Radical SR3 RS sports-racers. Just nine points cover the top three in the standings, Stuart Maloney leading his brothers Sean and Mark, who narrowed the gap to the series leader dramatically at round three in June, when Stuart failed to add to his tally of three race wins from the earlier rounds.
Sean has also won three races, one at each round, and holds the SR3 lap record (59.264s); Mark has won twice, while Guyana’s Mark Vieira claimed his first victory in a Radical in June to be fourth in the standings. Ryan Gonsalves from St Vincent and the Grenadines is fifth, with two podium finishes to his credit. The other SR3 Cup regulars David Simpson and Allan Kinch are sixth and seventh respectively.
Suzuki Challenge Series –– positions after round 3
Swift Cup: 1st Ryan Peyrau –– T&T (Team Suzuki), 148 points; 2nd Mark Thompson (Team Rock Hard Cement), 109pts; 3rd Daryl Clarke (Team Digicel), 99pts; 4th Ryan Wood (Team Digicel), 94pts; 5th Josh Read (Team Massy United Insurance), 87pts; 6th David Summerbell Jnr –– JAM (Team Simpson Finance), 84pts; 7th Barry Gale (Team Gale’s Agro Products), 63pts; 8th Kenrick Husbands (Team Williams Industries), 49pts; 9th Sean Gill (BAR), Team Suzuki, 46pts; 10th Kurt Thompson (Team Glassesco), 45pts; etc
SR3 Cup: 1st Stuart Maloney, 163 points; 2nd Sean Maloney, 156pts; 3rd Mark Maloney, 154pts; 4th Mark Vieira –– GUY, 118pts; 4th Ryan Gonsalves –– SVG, 99pts; 6th David Simpson, 64pts; 7th Allan Kinch, 56pts; 8th Bradley Ellis –– ENG & Simon Jean-Joseph –– FRA, 18pts; 10th Barry Gale & Jim Parr –– USA, 14pts.