Hamilton wows the crowd at Barbados Festival of Speed

Three-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton was without doubt the star of the show at the Barbados Festival of Speed on Sunday, May 8. Fitting a 10,000-mile round trip to the Caribbean in the two weeks between the Russian and Spanish Grands Prix, he worked tirelessly throughout the day, even when rain intervened, to entertain thousands of fans at Bushy Park Barbados.

The nine-hour programme of entertainment had opened with a parade of more than 80 classic and retro cars and cruiser bikes, as the Barbados Defence Force Zouave Band and Dancing Africa turned Bushy Park into spectacle of colour and sound. After a brief formal welcome, Hamilton burst on to the scene, powering his Petronas AMG Mercedes F1 W04 around the 2.01-kilometre track, the scream of the 2013 car’s V8 engine echoing around the facility as he completed a run of hot laps, interspersed with burn-outs and donuts.

Interviewed by Belle Holder, he told the appreciative crowd how pleased he was to be back in the island and was looking forward to the fun to come. From then until his final late-afternoon run in the F1 car, with rain now falling and water streaming across the track, he was on the move, interacting with competitors, spectators, sponsors and VIPs.

On a day fans will remember for a long time, he raced members of the Barbados Karting Association (BKA) - many of them still school-kids – in a wet Handicap Race, spent an hour signing autographs, stormed the track in a demonstration with British Superbike Championship ace Stuart Easton on his ePayMe Yamaha R1, and gave four lucky prize-winners the ride of a lifetime in the passenger seat of a Radical SR3 RSX.

The night before, he was guest of honour at Dinner with Lewis in the facility’s VIP Suite, where around 400 guests enjoyed a relaxed evening of entertainment, including a lengthy interview with the triple Champion. He talked of his early career and emphasised to the young karters who had been invited the importance of schoolwork, as well as racing. The evening concluded with an auction, with proceeds going towards the establishment of a Karting Scholarship at Bushy Park.

Abbott, Catwell, Husbands new Suzuki Challenge winners

James Abbott, son of the co-founder of Radical Sportscars, and local racers Kyle Catwell and Kenrick ‘Snappa’ Husbands all entered winners row for the first time in the Suzuki Challenge Series during the Barbados Festival of Speed.

Suleman Esuf claimed his second SR3 Cup pole position, ahead of Stuart, Sean and Mark Maloney - all covered by under six-tenths - then Trinidad & Tobago’s David Coelho and English teenager Jack Manchester. Starting at the back, Abbott was soon embroiled in a battle with David Simpson and Guyana’s Kristian Jeffrey (on his SR3 Cup debut) and Calvin Ming (having ‘new-car’ issues). As they swapped places back and forth, the best battle of the race ended in the order Simpson, Ming, Abbott and Jeffrey. Esuf led from lights to flag, the top six finishing in grid order.

With the race two grid based on the reverse of qualifying, Abbott started on pole, and made the best of it, on a track drying out after a shower. He led from lights to flag, keeping ahead of an intense battle between Jeffrey and Mark Maloney, which the former eventually won. Having started at the back after switching to his old car, Ming fought through to take third on the last lap, but was later disqualified for overtaking under yellows, promoting Maloney.

Having missed the first two rounds of the Swift Cup, Jamaica’s David Summerbell Jnr claimed pole position by just one-tenth from points leader Ryan Wood, with Husbands and Josh Read on row two. Husbands made a good start, to tuck in behind Summerbell, chased by ‘Woody’, Read, Jason Parkinson and Arron Parris. On the fourth lap, however, the Jamaican missed a gear, the slight loss of momentum sufficient for Husbands to rocket past and on to his first Swift Cup win, with Summerbell second.

For the reverse grid second race, Carlos Edwards and Martinique’s Pascal Calvel sat on the front row, ahead of Daryl Clarke and Catwell. On a wet track, following a heavy shower, Catwell shot off in determined mood, grasping a lead he would never lose by the end of lap one. Edwards initially held second, but was demoted in turn by Wood and Clarke, who claimed the other podium places.

Something for everyone at inaugural BFoS

From Micro Bangers to Monster Trucks, kadooment girls to a keynote tribute to the island’s 50th Anniversary of Independence, the inaugural Barbados Festival of Speed had something to please every one of the thousands of spectators who packed into the grounds of Bushy Park . . . and everyone went home talking animatedly about some element of the programme.

As the Monster Trucks bounced on the derelict wrecks of everything from ordinary saloon cars through a hearse to a former Transport Board bus, the “oohs and aahs” from The Hill were a clear indication that folk were enjoying themselves. Sadly, because of wind – the biggest enemy of FMX displays – the trio of free-style bikers had no chance to practice on Saturday, but did manage one thrilling display on Sunday morning, which had the crowd on its feet, shouting and cheering with every death-defying move.

Judging by social media feed back in the following days, however, the highlight of the programme for many was the Dreamers Banger Racing Team. Fans unfamiliar with contact motor sport were given an object lesson in how it works by some of the UK’s most successful – and, certainly, most entertaining - exponents. After a comparatively tame first race on the same track layout being used for the Kart Handicap, a more lively second race resulted in most of the 16 cars being disabled in one way or another.

Hard work by the pit crew, however, saw all but a handful return for the end-of-day Demolition Derby, in which the last car moving is the winner. It was no surprise that the accolade was won by Steve ‘Cecil’ Anscombe, who had been the prime mover behind the visit.

Local racers impress the crowds at BFoS

As well as the entertainment, the Barbados Festival of Speed included some conventional racing, including the Suzuki Challenge Series, reported above. On two wheels, honours were shared in two encounters, which pitched regulars in the Bushy Park Motor Sport Inc (BPMSI) Bike Championship against a dozen visitors from the UK.

British Superstock 600 racer Matthew Truelove (Honda CBR600RR) won the first race, which had been led in the early stages by his brother Harry (Yamaha YZF R6), until mechanical issues spelled retirement. Local points-leader Brook Miller (Suzuki GSXR-600) finished second, with another visitor James Skelding (Kawasaki ZX6R) third, but the tables were turned second time out: Terrance Ollivierre (GSXR-600) surged into a lead he was not to lose, chased initially by Skelding, who retired, with Matthew Truelove and Mason Williams (YZF R6) then completing the podium.

The Barbados Karting Association Handicap will be remembered by all those involved, many still at school, not just because it was wet . . . more because the last man to take the green flag at the start was three-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who first came to prominence in karting. The first driver away, Daniel Ullyett led for one lap, before Charlie Kerridge took the lead, but he lost it to Kyffin Simpson on the 10th and final lap. Kerridge was second, with Zane Maloney, who had powered right through the field, third. Hamilton pulled off before the end, ready for a ‘high-five’ with each karter as they returned to the pit-line. What memories!

The final race of the day was the BPMSI Car Handicap, won by BPCI Executive Chairman Mark Maloney (Mazda RX-3); he had started last of the 29 cars, passing 10 cars on lap seven alone, taking the lead on the final lap! Andre Forde and Kevin Wiggins, who had led the previous three laps, were second and third.

World class drivers for Sol Rally Barbados start

Sol Rally Barbados will again start on the unique Race Of Champions Parallel Track at Bushy Park, where the atmosphere last year was electric, as pairs of cars ran head-to-head in reverse order of seeding, from slowest to fastest. On Friday, June 3, competitors will tackle the 2.5-kilometre course twice, with action starting at 5.30pm, running through to around 9.30pm.

The provisional entry list of 91 includes 42 overseas crews, among them the current World Rally Championship WRC 2 points-leader Elfyn Evans in the Ford Fiesta R5 Evo owned by Trinidad & Tobago’s John Powell, whose Ford Focus WRC08 will be campaigned by double European Rally Champion Simon Jean-Joseph. The Frenchman finished second in Sol RB15, two seconds behind Jamaica’s Jeff Panton (Focus WRC06), who returns to defend his title, while 13-time winner Roger Skeete and Britain’s Rob Swann will also be in the fight for overall honours, Swann now equipped with a Subaru Impreza WRC S12B, sister car to Skeete’s.

The twisting nature of the ROC track will also bring the two-wheel-drive battle into focus – last year, Dane Skeete was an impressive fifth overall on the first run in his Peugeot 306 Maxi, then sixth on cumulative times after the second. Roger Mayers (WR Starlet), Josh Read (Toyota Starlet) and Rhett Watson (BMW M3) were seventh, 10th and 11th, with Andrew Jones (Ford Escort MkII) not far adrift in 14th and this year promises to be just as competitive. While Read has been the form man so far this year, nothing is easy to predict, especially with Neil Armstrong joining the 2wd fraternity in a state-of-the-art MkII Escort from the UK and Barry Mayers debuting his new rear-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta. Add in a host of Irish and Welsh contenders and it will be pure action!

BKA close to 60 competitors for the season

With four race meetings of the first season of its 2016 Chefette Championship now completed, the Barbados Karting Association (BKA) continues to enjoy steady growth in competitor numbers, with nearly 60 drivers having raced at Bushy Park so far this year. With three out of four perfect scores, Christian Hinds (X30) and Sebastian Thompson (Easykart 100) have emerged as the front-runners in the 2016 title chase, with Calem Maloney in hot pursuit, the top Easykart 60 points-scorer in all but the most recent meeting.

At the beginning of May, pole-sitter Hinds comfortably won the three X30 encounters, with Ricky Kirton, Calvin Bartlett and Reco Alkins sharing the places. In the first Easykart 100 race, Thompson, who had also qualified on pole, initially enjoyed a battle with Dana Bradshaw, but was then followed home by Dana and Graham Bradshaw in all three races. In Easykart 60, Kyffin Simpson became the first driver this year to defeat Maloney as top points scorer in an intense battle which is moving those two ahead of the rest; Simpson won two of the three races, despite Maloney having started from pole, finishing second to Maloney in the third, with Adam Mallalieu and Charlie Kerridge (twice) sharing the third places.

Mark Thompson joined the list of hat-trick winners, to move himself back up the 125 Easykart Masters points, with Ayrton Bannister (second twice) and Stuart Garcia (once) sharing the podium places with Stephen Moore. In 125 Easykart Lights, just three names appeared on the podium, pole-man Mark Kinch (two race wins), first-race winner Tremaine Forde-Catwell and Joshua Maloney, but early-season successes still keep Aiden Fortier and Allan Kinch in the chase for the class title. Dominic Straker beat pole-sitter Jason Kirton on points in the 125 Shifter class.

Round five of the BKA Championship is on Sunday, June 12.

Ullyett leads the points in BPMSI title chase

Geoff Ullyett is leading the Bushy Park Motor Sports Inc (BPMSI) 2016 Championship at the half-way stage. Having claimed a hat-trick of Group 1 Class 1 wins in his Datsun 120Y at the Glassesco Valvoline John 'Tiny' Harrison Memorial Race Meet at Easter, he repeated the feat on May 1, bringing his total to 150 points. With four second and two third places to his credit, Darren Lashley (Peugeot 205) lies second in the class to Ullyett and is also tied for second place overall with Gp1/C2 leader Adrian Bailey (Peugeot 205).

Despite a perfect record of six Gp2/C1 wins, Tremaine Forde-Catwell (Daihatsu Charade) is only fourth overall, as a lower points scale applies to under-subscribed classes. Kenrick Husbands (Gp3/C2 Toyota Starlet), Shawn Eversley (Gp3/C3 Suzuki Swift) and Mark Maloney (Gp4 Mazda RX-3) are the other class-leaders.

Brook Miller (Suzuki GSX-R600) leads Bikes Class A, five wins in six races giving him a total of 125 points, with Kris Brathwaite (Yamaha R6) and Shirley Scantlebury (GSX-R600) second and third, on 96 and 75 respectively. It is a lot closer in Class B, where the race wins have been shared between four riders: Ronnie Cooke (R6), who won once at Easter, has 97 points, six more than Lowrey Worrell (GSX-R600), a winner in May, with Mario Blackett (Honda CBR600) and Marc-Lee Bascombe (R6) tied on third with 68 points – each has raced in only one round, with two wins and a second.

Blackett was also the winner of the very wet Bike Handicap at Easter, so leads the points (the May Handicap was abandoned), while Stuart Maloney (Radical SR3 RS), one of only four drivers to have scored in both, leads the Car Handicap points, from brother Mark, who scythed past no fewer than 28 cars in his RX-3 to win a thrilling Handicap at the Barbados Festival of Speed.
Business Development and Marketing Manager Zoe Manning’s monthly update on other goings-on behind the scenes at Bushy Park Barbados.
• starting next month, kids will be able to have very special birthday parties at Bushy Park! Our kids karts will be arriving in June - drivers must be five to 12 years old and a minimum of 4ft 2ins (1.27m) tall. The Biz Evo Junior karts are mechanically governed to a maximum of 20mph and will be bare fun - regular Kids Karting Experiences will cost just Bds $35, with other exciting packages in the pipeline! Watch this space . . .

• as we look forward to September and the third round of the Seaboard Marine CMRC here at Bushy Park, a quick word of congrats to BPCI Mark Maloney, finished Sunday's (May 22) CMRC opening round in Jamaica second overall in 2wd in his Mazda RX-3. He was elbowed out of the first race, battled through from 13th to second in race two, then finished fourth overall in the last race.

Upcoming events

June 3rd  - Start of Sol Rally Barbados 2016

June 12th - Barbados Karting Association Chefette Championship, Round 5

June 12th - Barbados Association of Dragster & Drifters, Drag Warz 2

June 26th - Open Track Day

July 3rd - Bushy Park Motor Sports Inc, Round 3
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