Epic racing in round four of the Suzuki Challenge Series

Epic racing in round four of the Suzuki Challenge Series



Frequent heavy showers, tricky track conditions and the introduction of the Joker Lap in the Suzuki Challenge Series Swift Cup all contributed to a day of epic racing, which had thousands of fans on their feet at the Williams Industries Digicel International Race Meet at Bushy Park Barbados yesterday (September 13).

Mark Thompson (Team Rock Hard Cement) returned to winners'; row to peg back Team Suzuki driver Ryan Peyrau's Swift Cup lead from 39 to 21 points, but the big winner of the day was David Summerbell Jnr (Team Simpson Finance), who won the other two races, leaping from sixth to third in the standings, 21 points behind Thompson.

In the SR3 Cup, race three winner Stuart Maloney extended his lead from seven to 22 points, with his brothers swapping places in the standings; Mark, who won the day's opening race is now second and Sean third, while Guyana's Mark Vieira enjoyed his best weekend of the season to edge closer to the Maloneys.

Trinidad & Tobago's Peyrau claimed his third straight pole position, ahead of Kenrick Husbands (Team Williams Industries), Josh Read (Team Massy United Insurance) and Jason Parkinson (Team Infra Rentals), each achieving his best grid position so far. The top eight cars were covered by just over one second, with Thompson eighth on the grid.

The Joker Lap, on which drivers divert over the Rallycross Bridge to rejoin the circuit at the Banks Esses, added real intrigue to the races . . . and a few surprises, too; most drivers opted to take the Joker early, with almost all completed by shortly after half-distance each time, but some did not.

The first two races were fought out on a damp to wet track, not a problem for the Swift Sports, which are fitted with D-Mack T91 tyres, a slick/wet hybrid designed for such conditions. In the opening encounter, Peyrau made the best of the start to lead until half-distance, before dropping behind Jamaica's Summerbell, who was the last to take the Joker, just one lap from home. It looked as though he had pulled off a remarkable coup, when he rejoined still in the leading group, but a gear linkage problem intervened, dropping him to ninth at the finish.

Thompson won for the first time since round one in March, narrowing the gap to Peyrau to just 12 points after the championship leader failed to score for the first time all season. Thompson and fellow podium finishers, Parkinson and Husbands, had been among those to take the Joker early, so that seemed to be the way to go.

In race two, once again in tricky conditions, the combination of the regular reversed grid start and the Joker Lap produced an epic race. Having started at the front of the grid after his problems in race one, Peyrau was soon into the lead, then took the Joker on lap two, rejoining to battle with new leader Summerbell and Barry Gale (Team Gale's Agro Products). Gale took the Joker on lap four, rejoining behind Peyrau, who was around three seconds behind Summerbell . . . and then a remarkable thing happened: Summerbell took the Joker on the last lap, rejoined inches ahead of Peyrau, and went on to win his second Swift Cup race to loud cheers from the crowd. Gale was third, while Peyrau's second place extended his lead once again over Thompson, who was sixth.

There was more drama in the final race of the day, the grid based on points scored so far, with Thompson on pole, ahead of Summerbell, Parkinson and Ryan Wood (Team Digicel). Thompson led at the end of lap one from Summerbell and Parkinson, diving off for the Joker on lap two, with Peyrau close on his heels; they rejoined fourth and fifth, battling for position with Gale, until he took the Joker on lap five. Summerbell and Parkinson edged away, with no guessing which driver would blink first and take the Joker . . . but neither did, until the last lap, when another remarkable thing happened! They rocketed over the Bridge in convoy and maintained their current positions, Summerbell winning for the third time, chased home by Parkinson, claiming his best result of the campaign, with Thompson and Peyrau third and fourth.

In the SR3 Cup, Sean Maloney established a new Qualifying Record with the first sub-59 second lap of the 2.01-kilometre circuit – seven-tenths better than his brother Mark's previous best – with Vieira starting on the front row of the grid for the first time. Series leader Stuart Maloney was third, Mark fourth.

In common with the Swift Cup runners, the SR3 Cup ran in tricky conditions for the first two races, pole man Sean Maloney leading for only one lap before he succumbed first to brother Mark, then Stuart; he was also passed by Vieira just after half-distance, but the Guyanese driver slipped back to fourth at the flag.

Conditions for the second race were even worse, even the least-experienced Radical drivers showing great skill; Vieira made a storming start from the reversed grid, getting ahead of David Simpson and Ryan Gonsalves. While Vieira made good his escape for his second SR3 Cup win, Simpson, who has only been racing since March this year, did a commendable job of fending off the far more experienced Sean Maloney; all his work was in vain, however, as he was given a five-second penalty for a jumped start, which dropped him from second to fourth, behind Sean and Mark Maloney.

The final race of the day, with track conditions now normal, produced a thrilling three-way battle between Vieira – he';d started on pole, based on points scored earlier – Stuart and Sean Maloney. Although Stuart led throughout, Sean passing Vieira for second place on lap two, they circulated lap after lap separated by mere inches. Vieira finally regained the position on the last lap, with just one second covering the three as they crossed the line. SR3 Cup first-timer Kurt Thompson was fourth and Simpson fifth, while Mark Maloney had gear selection problems throughout, retiring on the last lap.


Suzuki Challenge Series, round 4 (September 13)

Swift Cup Race 1: 1st Mark Thompson (Team Rock Hard Cement); 2nd Jason Parkinson (Team Infra Rentals); 3rd Kenrick Husbands (Team Williams Industries); 4th Ryan Wood (Team Digicel); 5th Josh Read (Team Massy United Insurance); 6th Kurt Thompson (Team Glassesco); 7th Barry Gale (Team Gale's Agro Products); 8th Paul Bourne (Team ICBL); 9th David Summerbell Jnr - JAM (Team Simpson Finance); 10th Daryl Clarke (Team Digicel); 11th Ryan Peyrau – T&T (Team Suzuki); 12th Samantha Summerbell - JAM (Team Suzuki) Race 2: 1st D Summerbell; 2nd Peyrau; 3rd Gale; 4th Clarke; 5th Wood; 6th M Thompson; 7th Read; 8th Parkinson; 9th Husbands; 10th K Thompson; 11th Bourne; 12th S Summerbell Race 3: 1st D Summerbell; 2nd Parkinson; 3rd M Thompson; 4th Peyrau; 5th Clarke; 6th Gale; 7th Read; 8th K Thompson; 9th Husbands; 10th Bourne; 11th Wood; 12th S Summerbell

SR3 Cup Race 1: 1st Mark Maloney; 2nd Stuart Maloney; 3rd Sean Maloney; 4th Mark Vieira - GUY; 5th Ryan Gonsalves – SVG; 6th David Simpson; 7th Kurt Thompson Race 2: 1st Vieira; 2nd Stuart Maloney; 3rd M Maloney; 4th Simpson; 5th Sean Maloney; 6th K Thompson; dnf - Gonsalves Race 3: 1st Stuart Maloney; 2nd Vieira; 3rd Sean Maloney; 4th K Thompson; 5th Simpson; dnf – M Maloney


Positions after round 4

Swift Cup: 1st Peyrau 178 points; 2nd M Thompson 157pts; 3rd D Summerbell 136pts; 4th Clarke 122pts; 5th Wood 116pts; 6th Read 109pts; 7th B Gale 92pts; 8th Parkinson 58pts; 9th Husbands 68pts; 10th K Thompson 58pts; 11th Sean Gill (Team Suzuki) 46pts; 7th Barry Gale (Team Gale's Agro Products) 36pts; 12th Karl Waterman (Team Williams Industries) 25pts; 13th Mark Kinch (Team ICBL) 12pts; 14th Jean-Philippe Mongaillard – FRA (Team Suzuki) 10pts; 15th Bourne 5pts

SR3 Cup: 1st Stuart Maloney 224 points; 2nd M Maloney 202pts; 3rd Sean Maloney 196pts; 4th Vieira 173pts; 5th Gonsalves 109pts; 6th Simpson 94pts; 7th Allan Kinch 56pts; 8th K Thompson 26pts; equal 9th Ellis & Jean-Joseph 18pts; equal 11th Barry Gale & Jim Parr – USA 14pts


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