Guyana’s Kristian Jeffrey and local racer David Simpson joined the Suzuki Challenge Series SR3 Cup roll of honour yesterday as they shared race wins with reigning champion Sean Maloney during the Digicel Williams International Race Meet at the Bushy Park, St Philip raceway.
Ryan Wood took the chequered flag in all three Swift Cup races, but was disqualified from the third for taking the Joker Lap twice, handing victory to Jason Parkinson.
Suleman Esuf claimed his third pole position in Saturday qualifying, despite a loose wheel delaying him at the start of the session. By the time he emerged from the pits, the others had completed their allotted time, so he enjoyed a virtually clear track and was the only driver to record a sub-60 seconds time. Guyana’s Calvin Ming joined him on the front row, ahead of Mark and Stuart Maloney, Simpson and Mark Vieira of Guyana, back for the first time since last year, Sean Maloney, Trinidad & Tobago’s David Coelho and Jeffrey, who had spun off on his first lap and failed to set a time.
Esuf made the best start, leading Ming and Stuart Maloney early on, with Mark Maloney moving up to fourth just before half-distance, by which time Sean Maloney and Vieira had retired. On lap six, Mark Maloney tried a brave manoeuvre into the Ws Hairpin, passing brother Stuart and Ming on the inside, even trying a move on Esuf. He spun across the track in front of Stuart and Ming on the exit, however – Stuart retired after contact, while Ming clipped the kerb and continued.
Fifth-placed Simpson seized the moment somewhat. Despite his best efforts, glued to the rear wing of Esuf’s Radical, he failed to find a way past, crossing the line four-tenths down, to equal his best result. Esuf was handed a five seconds jump start penalty, however, so Simpson claimed his first win, with Esuf, Jeffrey and Ming completing the finishers. Mark Maloney continued slowly, with damaged rear suspension, but was not classified.
The second race was one of a number hit by intermittent rain, Coelho and Ming retiring within seconds of the start as the pack streamed through the Hammer from the reverse grid formation, based on qualifying. Sean Maloney emerged the leader, ahead of Simpson and the rest, but he soon spun, handing the lead to brother Stuart, who had already passed Simpson, with Esuf next up. Mark Maloney and Mark Vieira enjoyed a fierce battle for fifth; the Guyanese driver eventually getting the upper hand, before Simpson spun down to last. Now second, Esuf put pressure on Stuart Maloney, until they aquaplaned off into the gravel trap at the dipper together, where they were soon joined by Mark Maloney, leaving his brother Sean to win from Vieira and Simpson.
For the second race in a row, Ming was caught up in an incident at the first corner, which broke up the field, with Jeffrey the main beneficiary, handed a comfortable lead he was not to surrender. Initially second, Coelho lost the place to a determined move by Simpson at the bullet, and then third to Esuf at the same corner on the following lap. After a spirited defence, Simpson lost out to Esuf three laps from home, but still had much to celebrate as the top points-scorer of the weekend with three podium finishes.
Kenrick Husbands (Team Williams Industries) claimed his first Swift Cup pole position, by one-tenth from points leader Wood (Team Digicel), with Josh Read (Team Massy United Insurance) and newcomer Rhett Watson (Team ICBL) on row two. Wood led the day’s first race from lights to flag, opening sufficient of a gap to take the joker lap and rejoin still in the lead, ahead of Parkinson (Team Infra Rentals/Sol) and Read, who then lost third place to Husbands as he took his joker on the last lap.
From the reversed grid based on qualifying, Daryl Clarke (Team Digicel) led off the line in the second race, but Carlos Edwards (Team Rock Hard Cement) was ahead by the end of the lap, and looked set for the win. Having started on the back row, Wood had been working through the field, however, and pounced on the final lap for his second win of the day, with Martinique’s Pascal Calvel claiming his first Swift Cup podium in third.
With the final grid based on points scored, Wood and Parkinson sat on the front row, Clarke and Barry Gale (Team Gale’s Agro Products) on row two, as Edwards had been served a four-grid penalty for an overly robust defence of his lead in the previous race. As before, Wood opened the gap enough to retain the lead on his joker lap, with the order behind remaining static, Parkinson ahead of Clarke and Read.
By the final lap, Wood had opened the gap again and, much to everyone’s surprise, took a second joker. Although that meant disqualification, handing victory to Parkinson, the 50 points scored from this two earlier wins were still sufficient for Wood to be top scorer of the day.