The six-round summer season of the inaugural Suzuki Challenge Series will climax in a floodlit finale at Bushy Park, St Philip this Saturday.
With a demanding double-header of six races – three under floodlights – and changes to the regular race meeting format, title contenders in both the Swift Cup and the SR3 Cup will need to be on their toes.
The action-packed programme, organised by Bushy Park Motor Sports Inc (BPMSI), also includes the final round of the Club’s 2015 Championships on two and four wheels. Between the start of the first Swift Cup race, slated for 12 p.m., and the finish of the Hilti Handicap for Cars which BPMSI officials expect to be around 10 p.m., 23 races and nearly 120 laps will have been completed, plus practice and hot lap qualifying.
To slot all that action in to what the club admits is an ambitious programme, changes have been made to the format of all the categories on the schedule, which should also ramp up the entertainment value for fans.
Round five of the Suzuki Challenge Series will have regular practice and qualifying sessions, but the race distances are changed. Normally eight laps, the Swift Cup races are reduced to six, which will make the strategic use of the Joker Lap even more important, while races one and two for the SR3 Cup races are cut from 12 laps to 10, with the third now a six-lap dash to the flag. In addition, the races are back-to-back, all six scheduled for completion within the first two hours of the race programme. Swift and SR3 Cup will alternate, placing additional pressure on competitors.
The grid for the first race of round six will be decided by hot lap qualifying. The Swift Cup cars will be released from the pits at intervals to complete one hot lap from the first time they pass the start/finish line.
In an exciting first for Barbados circuit racing, the SR3 Cup drivers will exit the pits, pass the start/finish line once for a warm-up lap, then complete their hot lap, before returning to the pits. Under floodlights the Swift Cup races will then revert to eight laps, while the format for the SR3 Cup will remain the same as earlier in the day, two races of 10 laps, with the third over six laps.
There is still all to drive for in both Suzuki Challenge Series. With a maximum of 150 points on offer if a driver were to claim six race wins, in theory almost any driver in either series could emerge the champion.
In the Swift Cup, Trinidad & Tobago’s Ryan Peyrau (Team Suzuki) has a 21-point advantage in the standings over Mark Thompson (Team Rock Hard Cement), who had led the series after round one. Jamaica’s David Summerbell Jnr (Team Simpson Finance) was the big winner last time out, leaping from sixth to third in the standings, 21 points behind Thompson.
Peyrau has won four times, Summerbell and Thompson three times each, Barry Gale (Team Gale’s Agro Products) and Ryan Wood (Team Digicel) once. With two second places, Jason Parkinson (Team Infra Rentals) enjoyed his best race day of the season last time out, so these is certainly scope for new winners.
In the SR3 Cup, Stuart Maloney now leads 22 points from his brothers Mark and Sean by 22 and 28 points respectively, with Guyana’s Mark Vieira a further 23 points adrift. All four have been race- winners, Sean Maloney with four, Mark and Stuart with three each and Vieira with two. The new format will certainly present some new challenges.