World-class team heads in for BMF motor sport training

World-class team heads in for BMF motor sport training

Three experienced motor sport professionals, led by Dubai Grand Prix Clerk of the Course Ronan Morgan, will conduct a two-day programme of training ahead of the opening round of the Caribbean Junior Karting Academy Trophy (CJKAT) at Bushy Park Barbados on Thursday and Friday, January 10/11. Morgan’s Deputy Clerk Gordon Mellis, a kart racing expert, and former F1 driver Tommy Byrne complete the team of FIA-accredited Regional Training Providers (RTP), who will work with the karters registered for the new series, along with a number of the island’s volunteer officials and marshals.

  Administered by the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF) and sponsored by Bushy Park Circuit Inc (BPCI), Chefette, Sol and Terra Caribbean, CJKAT will be contested by racers aged from 11 to 15 from Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica at three double-headers on January 12/13, February 2/3 and March 2/3; CJKAT is modelled on the CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy, which has been the first rung on the ladder of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile’s (FIA) single-seater path to F1 since 2010.

  BMF President Andrew Mallalieu, who will host a planning meeting with competitors and volunteers at Bushy Park on Saturday (December 29), is upbeat about the opportunities presented by the FIA support for the regional initiative: “Our first regional karting championship has been eagerly supported by the FIA in many ways, perhaps the most important of which is the training programme. This is a world-class team of trainers, with an impressive background in organisation across many disciplines, but with specific knowledge of the karting world.

  “I have issued a ‘call to arms’ ahead of Saturday, as I would like some experienced racers to work with our marshals to give them a boost. I hope that some current and past karters will join us; motor sport has been very fulfilling for many of us and opportunities to support our juniors like this do not come along very often. The eyes of the FIA and our fellow organisers in the region will be on us Barbados, so this is an chance for us to shine.”

  Morgan’s career in motor sport spans more than 40 years as competitor and organiser. As general manager of the Automobile & Touring Club of the United Arab Emirates (ATCUAE), he oversees and licenses more than 140 motor sport events annually in the Emirates, including the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, of which he has been Clerk of the Course since its inception in 2009.

  As a professional co-driver, he won multiple championships in his native Ireland, enjoying a string of victories in the mid-1980s, including the Circuit of Ireland, alongside the legendary Billy Coleman. Thereafter, he won the Middle East Rally Championship 10 times during a formidable partnership with Mohammed Bin Sulayem, now one of the Arab world’s most influential motor sport figures, President of the ATCUAE and Vice-President of the FIA, where he has pioneered teaching, research and knowledge transfer initiatives in motor sport.

  Morgan is also Training Director of the Motorsport Knowledge Institute (MKI), the training and research division of the ATCUAE and FIA-appointed RTP. MKI has designed and delivered comprehensive officials training programmes for various motor sport disciplines in more than 22 countries across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and South America, along with Young Driver development programmes. In 2016, Morgan received a Masters Degree from Ulster University for a research project in which he devised the first-ever competency framework for motor sport volunteers.

  While Mellis has acted in senior roles for categories as diverse as Formula 1 (he is Deputy CoC at the Abu Dhabi GP), the Formula 4 UAE and Radical Middle East Series, V8 Supercars, MotoGP and World Superbikes, his experience in the world of karting is of particular value in his forthcoming visit to Barbados. In 2013, he wrote a booklet titled Racing Rules Explained, initially targeted at kart racers in the 6 to 12-year-old age bracket in the UAE, and their parents, but which has since been taken up by karting bodies across the world. Worldwide, he has officiated at more than 100 FIA and CIK events since 2016, but also retains links with his native Scotland as Clerk of the Course at the Knockhill Circuit and for the North of Scotland Kart Club.

  A key role in the Young Driver training will be played by former F1 driver Tommy Byrne, who is now a Senior Instructor at the Mid Ohio Driving School and owner of the Diablo Drifter Driving Academy in the US. After a successful career in his native Ireland, Byrne moved to the British mainland, winning two British Formula Ford Championships, then the 10th Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch in 1981; the following year, he was British Formula 3 Champion, despite missing some late-season rounds during his brief F1 career with the under-funded Theodore team with whom he started two races, and the first Autosport National Racing Driver of the Year. After a brief return to F3 in 1983, he moved to the US, where he was runner-up in the American Racing Series in 1988 and ’89; he won 10 races in 55 starts, both second place in the series record books, before retiring in 1992 and applying his years of experience to inspiring young drivers.