Barbados’ Sean Maloney and Trinidad & Tobago’s Ryan Peyrau were crowned champions of the SR3 Cup and Swift Cup respectively when the inaugural Suzuki Challenge Series came to an action-packed conclusion at Bushy Park, St Philip on Saturday. Maloney won both the SR3 Summer Series and Winter Cup, while Peyrau shared honours in the Swift Cup with Summer Series Champion, Jamaica’s David Summerbell Jnr.
Had Josh Read (Team Massy United Insurance) repeated his best lap in practice (1m 15.793s) during the subsequent qualifying session, he would have started the day’s opening race from his first Swift Cup pole position . . . but it was not to be. With a new qualifying record of 1:15.824, Peyrau (Team Suzuki) topped the time sheets as five drivers dipped below the record set last month by Summerbell. Read lined up on the front row, with Summerbell (Team Simpson Finance) and Mark Thompson (Team Hard Rock Cement) on row two, ahead of Team Digicel’s Daryl Clarke and Ryan Wood.
Starting from the southern grid, Peyrau led from lights to flag in race one, with a new lap record (1:15.524) to add to that set in qualifying. Summerbell was just 2.4secs adrift at the flag, with Read and Thompson in close formation behind him. Jason Parkinson (Team Infra Rentals) and Clarke completed the top six.
Freddie Gale (Team Gale’s Agro Products) and Samantha Summerbell (Team Suzuki) were on the front row of the reversed grid for race two, with Paul Bourne (Team ICBL) and Wood on row two, ahead of Kenrick ‘Snappa’ Husbands (Team Williams Industries) and Kurt Thompson (Team Glassesco).
Gale held sway until lap two, when Wood swept past into a lead he would not lose, claiming his fifth Swift Cup win. Gale was passed a couple of laps later by Parkinson, who held second place until the checkered flag, while Peyrau slipped past Clarke on the final tour to finish an impressive third, from last on the grid.
Summerbell’s race came to an abrupt end on lap two during an intense four-car battle for position at the tail end of the field, also involving Husbands, Mark Thompson and Read. After some contact at the previous corners, Thompson appeared not to turn in at the Hammer, causing both himself and Summerbell, who was challenging around the outside, to run off into the gravel trap. The move robbed the Jamaican of the chance to fight for the overall championship in a final-race decider and the Stewards excluded Thompson from the final race of the day.
Based on points scored earlier, Peyrau and Parkinson started on the front row for the final race, with Wood and Read on row two, Clarke and Summerbell on row three. Peyrau and Parkinson edged steadily away from the field, maintaining station to the flag – they even took their Joker laps together – Peyrau claiming his eighth Swift Cup win, one more than Summerbell. The Jamaican lost out to Husbands on the first lap and took some time to fight through the lively mid-field battles – he finished third, ahead of Read, Clarke and Wood. During the race Wood lowered the lap record even further, to 1:15.512.
Despite not having driven his Suzuki-powered Radical SR3 RS since January, Mark Maloney was in determined mood, setting a new qualifying record (58.705s), with fellow front row starter Suleman Esuf and third fastest Sean Maloney also under the previous mark, set by Guyana’s Calvin Ming. Maloney was joined on row two by Britain’s Brian Caudwell, with Stuart Maloney, David Simpson and English teenager Jack Manchester completing the field, all breaking the 60-secs barrier.
Mark Maloney was never headed in race one, despite a huge effort by Esuf, who shadowed him the whole way. Caudwell was challenged first by Stuart Maloney, then briefly by his brother Sean, but held on for third. Sean finished fourth, claiming another lap record (58.580s), with Stuart fifth and Simpson the final finisher after Manchester retired on lap three.
Simpson started from the reversed grid pole in race two, but it all went haywire with an incident at the Dipper on lap one, which left Esuf stranded on the infield and Simpson back in the pits with very battered bodywork. Stuart Maloney assumed the lead, chased by Caudwell and brother Sean, Mark Maloney recovering from a spin of his own.
Caudwell dived past Stuart Maloney at the Ws, contact resulting in Maloney spinning, leaving Caudwell free to take his first SR3 Cup win. Sean Maloney took up the chase, with brothers Stuart and Mark finished third and fourth, Mark lowering the lap record yet further (58.457s).
Although some discussion ensued following the Caudwell/Stuart Maloney contact, it was viewed as a racing incident, so Caudwell started the final race from pole, as highest points-scorer so far. With Mark, Sean and Stuart Maloney lined up behind him, Caudwell had a target on his back, but showed steely focus, leading for five laps; Mark Maloney squeezed past, easing away a little to claim his second race win of the day, by just eight-tenths. Stuart Maloney was third, Esuf fourth, Sean Maloney fifth after a spin, with Jack Manchester the final finisher after Simpson retired on lap two.