Jason Parkinson and newcomer Arron Parris joined the Suzuki Challenge Series Swift Cup roll of honour at Bushy Park Barbados over the Easter weekend, but Ryan Wood was the star of the show, with two pole positions, three race wins and three fastest laps.
Meanwhile, Stuart Maloney dominated the SR3 Cup, with a hattrick of victories.
The second Swift Cup season opened with a double-header, three races each on Saturday and yesterday, while the SR3 Cup contenders raced only during yesterday’s Glassesco Valvoline John “Tiny” Harrison Memorial Race Meet, organised by Bushy Park Motor Sport Inc.
With a host of new names joining the Swift Cup grid, a change in the established order was expected and it started in qualifying on Saturday. Wood (Team Digicel) claimed his first pole position and Josh Read (Team Massy United Insurance) equalled his best of second, with reigning champion, Trinidad and Tobago’s Ryan Peyrau (Team Suzuki), and Carlos Edwards (Team Rock Hard Cement) the best of the newcomers, on row two. With Parkinson (Team Infra Rentals/Sol), Kenrick Husbands (Team Williams Industries) and Dane Skeete (Team Simpson Finance) all within half-a- second of Wood’s pole time, it was going to be tight.
Wood made an excellent getaway from the southern grid in Race 1 for a lights-to-flag victory, chased home by Peyrau, who had squeezed past Read on the opening lap. Parkinson fought through to claim the third podium place, with Edwards again top rookie, finishing fourth with fastest lap. In a change of format for the new season, the reversed grid for Race 2 is now based on qualifying times, rather than the results of Race 1, with Team Digicel again on pole, this time courtesy of Derek Edwards, standing in for regular driver Daryl Clarke, who was unavailable.
Edwards led for the first two laps as the closely-knit field resembled a 48-wheeled train snaking around the 2.01-kilometre track, until Parkinson made a lunge as they bunched up at the Sesash Hairpin, passing four cars before the next turn. He took a lead he was not to relinquish on lap three, crossing the line 1.5 seconds ahead of Skeete, the second newcomer to claim fastest lap, with Read an impressive third from tenth on the grid.
With the grid for Race 3 based on points scored in the first two, Parkinson and Wood lined up on row one, ahead of Peyrau and Skeete, with Martinique’s Pascal Calvel (Team Suzuki) and Read on row three, the latter having received a two-grid penalty for an incident in Race 2. In a thrill-packed eight laps, two battles held the crowd’s attention, as Parkinson and Wood battled for the lead and Peyrau and Skeete fought for the final podium place. Parkinson and Wood, who claimed the fastest lap, crossed the line nose-to-tail, while Skeete was promoted to third and his second podium of the day when Peyrau was disqualified for not taking the Joker Lap.
Parkinson had a 12-point advantage over Wood, with Read and Skeete equal third heading in to round two yesterday, with the grid for Race 1 based on the second-fastest time set by each driver in Saturday’s qualifying. The grid was very similar, with Wood logging a second pole position and Read, Carlos Edwards, Peyrau, Parkinson and Skeete completing the top six.
Wood repeated his Saturday Race 1 performance, leading throughout for his sixth Swift Cup win, also adding a sixth fastest lap to his tally. He was chased home this time by Read, with Peyrau third and Carlos Edwards claiming his best result so far in fourth, ahead of Parkinson and Skeete.
Derek Edwards was again on the reversed-grid pole, ahead of Parris, driving for new sponsor Team RBC, Kyle Catwell (Team ICBL), Calvel, Husbands and Skeete. This time, Edwards was to lead for only one lap, before Parris made his move, even retaining the lead when he took the Joker Lap next time round. In second place, Skeete collected his third podium of the weekend, while Parkinson was third. When he rejoined from his Joker Lap on the final tour, however, there was contact in the midst of a close battle between Read and Wood, for which Parkinson was given a five-grid penalty for Race 3.
From the start it was tight at the top, Wood leading Read, Skeete, Husbands, Peyrau and, from half- distance, Parkinson in a six-car train that tantalisingly drove past the Joker Lap entrance again and again. The first to blink were Skeete and Peyrau on lap six, then Read and Parkinson a lap later. When Wood and Husbands peeled off over the Rallycross Bridge on the last lap, it looked as though third-placed Read was finally going to lose his Swift Cup “bridesmaid” status, but a determined Wood was alongside him as he rejoined and they fought tooth and nail to the flag, crossing the line just 0.263secs apart, the closest finish yet in the Swift Cup. Husbands finished third, another half-second behind, claiming the fastest lap.
Reigning SR3 Cup Champion Sean Maloney reclaimed the qualifying lap record with a time of 58.416s yesterday, to start ahead of brothers Stuart and Mark, Suleman Esuf and David Simpson. The pole-sitter got the best of the start in Race 1, leading until half-distance, when Stuart assumed a lead he held to the flag, followed by Sean and Mark.
With Simpson and Esuf ahead of the Maloneys for the reversed-grid Race 2, a different outcome seemed likely, but they tangled at the Banks Esses on lap one. Simpson rejoined first, but was passed by Esuf, who was a joy to watch as he pushed his car to the limits, missing out on a new lap record by just two-hundredths of a second. The top three finished in the same order as in Race 1, as Mark Maloney was handed a ten-second jump-start penalty, although he crossed the line first.
Stuart Maloney made it a hat-trick of victories in race three, leading from lights to flag, chased initially by Sean, then Mark, who finished second, with Esuf third and Simpson fourth, after the reigning champion spun on the penultimate lap.