Rally stars to face off in Suzuki Challenge Series

Rally stars to face off in Suzuki Challenge Series

Paul 'Surfer' Bourne and Roger 'The Sheriff' Skeete will transfer their age-old rivalry from rally stage to racetrack on Sunday (June 14) when they compete in round three of the Suzuki Challenge Series at Bushy Park Barbados. While the two former Rally Barbados winners will contest the Swift Cup, Martinique's Simon Jean-Joseph, who finished second in this year's 25th Anniversary event two weeks ago, will make his circuit-racing debut in a Suzuki-powered Radical in the SR3 Cup.

Skeete will also compete in the Swift Cup Masters Race, the entry for which includes some well-known names from Bushy Park's past: 1970s racers Hallam Edwards, George Ullyett and Lincoln Waterman will return to racing after many years away to face drivers who have continued to compete, such as Simon Gillmore and Doug Maloney.

In the three points-scoring Swift Cup races, Skeete will drive the Team Suzuki Swift Sport campaigned in May's second round by Sean Gill, while Bourne will be at the wheel of the Team ICBL entry, which his nephew Mark Kinch drove last month. They will face strong opposition from the more seasoned Swift Cup campaigners in the 12-car field, with points-leader Ryan Peyrau (Team Suzuki) of Trinidad & Tobago looking to extend his 24-point advantage at the top of the table.

Mark Thompson (Team Rock Hard Cement) claimed pole position and won two races in March to seize the early advantage, with Peyrau the other winner; the Trinidadian turned the tables last time out, with pole position, then two race wins promoting him into the series lead. Ryan Wood (Team Digicel) joined the roster of race-winners in May, jumping to third place in the standings. Wood's team-mate Daryl Clarke, Josh Read (Team Massy Insurance) and the returning Barry Gale (Team Gale's Agro Products) and Kenrick Husbands (Team Williams Industries) - both missed round two - each has at least one top three finish to his credit, so a new Swift Cup race-winner cannot be far away.

The Swift Cup Masters Race promises to be interesting, as these veteran drivers play themselves in to the identical production-based Swift Sports. While the evenly-matched front-wheel-drive hatchbacks are designed to create a level playing field, Skeete's 35-year career in the sport does include wins at Old Bushy Park, in the 1990s in a fwd Peugeot 205, then again in a 306 when he returned for the first time in 13 years, claiming a hattrick of class wins and the end-of-day handicap in February 2006.

Of the other participants, both Simon Gillmore (in a variety of Peugeots) and Doug Maloney (most recently in his Audi A4 quattro) have been regular competitors and frequent race-winners, Gillmore the BARL Champion Driver in 2007 and Maloney a consistent front-runner in the Caribbean Motor Racing Championship.

Peter Thompson, who raced at Old Bushy Park in its second manifestation in the 1990s, returned to circuit racing for a couple of seasons in 2012, although he had continued to contest rallies and speed events, while Trevor Mapp returned to rallying a few seasons back, having spent his non-competition years as a marshal and organiser. Freddie Mapp, primarily a rally driver in his early days, raced briefly in the '90s at home and in Guyana, then returned to Bushy Park for five seasons in 2006.

For Hallam Edwards, George Ullyett and Lincoln Waterman, Sunday's return to the venue will bring back memories: all were part of the circuit's earliest days, Edwards (Mount Gay Mini) and Waterman (Barclays Ford Escort) remembered for their many battles, while Ullyett raced both Terrapin single-seaters and Holden Torano saloons.

Simon Jean-Joseph's debut in the SR3 Cup, which offers the fastest racing in the region, represents only a part of his commitment to Sunday's race meet, as he will also be demonstrating EASYDRIFT, first seen at Bushy Park last November. Using patented wheel ring technology, EASYDRIFT simulates real-world, low-grip driving conditions, to aid in teaching safe-driving skills; as the wheel rings adapt to any kind of vehicle - fwd, rwd or 4wd - and no skid-pan is required, any car and any paved surface can become a test driving environment. There will be three demonstrations on Sunday afternoon.

At the top of the SR3 Cup, with three wins in six races to his credit, Stuart Maloney is five points ahead of his brothers Sean, the early-season leader, and Mark, who is another 20 points adrift. While these three are the only winners so far - Sean has two victories, Mark one - that situation looks set to change. Ryan Gonsalves from St Vincent & The Grenadines and Guyana's Mark Vieira, both experienced racers, have each claimed two podium finishes and are looking more confident with every outing, so a new face on the top step of the podium draws nearer.

Gates open at 10.00am on Sunday, with Suzuki Challenge Series practice slated for 12.30pm, with qualifying following immediately. Races are scheduled for 1.30pm, 3.00pm and 4.00pm (Swift Cup), then 2.10pm, 3.20pm and 4.20pm (SR3 Cup), with the Swift Cup Masters Race closing the programme at 5.00pm. General Admission will be Bds $15, with The Clubhouse, where food and drink will be on sale, Bds $30; children 12 and under are free. A vehicle pass for the Hilti 4 x 4 Freestyle Hammer Zone is Bds $25, with individual General Admission passes required for each adult occupant.


Suzuki Challenge Series - positions after round 2

Swift Cup: 1st 1st Ryan Peyrau - T&T (Team Suzuki), 107 points; 2nd Mark Thompson (Team Rock Hard Cement), 83pts; 3rd Ryan Wood (Team Digicel), 74pts; 4th Daryl Clarke (Team Digicel), 62pts; 5th Josh Read (Team Massy United Insurance), 59pts; 6th Kenrick Husbands (Team Williams Industries), 40pts; 7th Barry Gale (Team Gale's Agro Products), 36pts; 8th David Summerbell Jnr - JAM (Team Simpson Finance), 32pts; equal 9th Kurt Thompson (Team Glassesco) & Karl Waterman (Team Williams Industries), 25pts; etc

SR3 Cup: 1st Stuart Maloney, 118 points; 2nd Sean Maloney, 113pts; 3rd Mark Maloney, 93pts; 4th Ryan Gonsalves - SVG, 75pts; 5th Mark Vieira - GUY, 73pts; 6th David Simpson, 44pts; 7th Allan Kinch, 40pts; 8th Barry Gale, 16pts; 9th Jim Parr - USA, 14pts