Team Barbados successfully defended their second place in the Country Championship standings when the 2018 Seaboard Marine Caribbean Motor Racing Championship (CMRC) drew to a close at South Dakota in Guyana last weekend.
Kurt Thompson was the top-scoring Bajan on the day, with a hat-trick of podium finishes in Group 2, while Mark Maloney ended the season as champion in the new Group 5.
Heading into the final round, a three-man crew – Thompson’s brother Mark was also in action – were looking to build on a total of 618 points. Although there was no chance of catching leaders Trinidad & Tobago, the target was to stay ahead of third-placed Jamaica and fend off a potentially strong challenge from the host nation . . . and they did just that.
While T&T has won a third consecutive title in dominant style, with 1359 points in the provisional year-end standings, Barbados retained second place (723pts), while Guyana leap-frogged both Antigua and Jamaica to finish third (579pts).
Maloney and Mark Thompson had each won back-to-back titles in 2016 & 2017, in Gp4 and Gp2 respectively, but had only a slim chance of a repeat this year. Fourth in Gp4 before the weekend, Maloney (Mazda RX-3) qualified second behind the returning Kristian Jeffrey (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), but retired on the first lap of race one after the team’s attempt to avoid the air filter becoming clogged with sand from the track backfired.
Two second-place finishes in the subsequent races were not enough to improve his year-end result, so he remained fourth, while Guyana’s Andrew King (RX-7) won all three races to overhaul points leader and fellow-countryman Mark Vieira (RX-8) to win the Gp4 title. Maloney lost his on-track victory in the final race to a 10-second penalty applied by the stewards for starting out of position, so Quinian Lall of Team CAMS (Mazda Miata) finished third for the season.
Any outside chance Mark Thompson (Honda Civic) had of claiming the Gp2 crown evaporated in race one with a sixth-place finish, following a rapid engine change after damage in testing. Although points leader and pole-sitter, T&T’s Marc Gill (Civic), failed to finish, Thompson needed to win to stay in the hunt. Despite scoring only 15 points, for third place in race two, Gill added the 2018 title to that he won in 2015 – he is the only non-Bajan to have won the Gp2 crown – while two points-scoring finishes promoted Thompson to third in Gp2 at year-end.
Brother Kurt (Civic), however, had a strong weekend; he qualified fifth, the last driver within a second of pole position, then finished third in race one. The 2013 Gp2 champion then led the second race for a couple of laps at mid-distance, before the first of two second places – both inherited after penalties were applied to his brother Mark for driving standards infringements – contributed to a points tally of 51, second in Gp2 to Guyana’s Shan Seejattan (Civic), who won all three races.
In addition to Maloney’s victory in Gp5 and fourth place in Gp4 and Mark Thompson’s third place in Gp2, there was also year-end success for Tremaine Forde-Catwell (Daihatsu Charmant), who finished equal fifth in Gp3 with Jamaica’s Peter Jaggon (Honda Civic) and Devan McCartney (Honda CRX), who placed equal second with Antigua’s Ronald Spencer (BMW 318ti Compact) in the new-for-2018 Gp1. Forde-Catwell and McCartney were among 20 drivers from Barbados who contributed to the Country Championship total, of more than 100 points-scorers from around the region.