REIGNING Group 4 and 2 Champions Mark Maloney and Mark Thompson and the rest of Barbados team arrived in Guyana yesterday for the Guyana Motor Racing and Sports Club’s (GMR&SC) Ignite.
The event, which forms the basis for the final round of the 2018 Seaboard Marine Caribbean Motor Racing Championship (CMRC), speeds off tomorrow and Sunday at the South Dakota Circuit at Timehri.
Champion in 2016 & 2017, Maloney will compete in Group (Gp) 4 where he is currently in fourth place; 52 points off leader; Guyana’s Mark Vieira (RX-8),.Four-time title winner Thompson will race in Gp2, accompanied by brother Kurt, who won the Gp2 crown in 2013. Neither of the Thompson brothers has any good chance of winning their Gp2 class with only 75 points from the three races to be competed.
Top points-scorer at the Williams Digicel International Race Meet at Bushy Park in September, Team Barbados moved from fourth to second in the Country standings with 618 points. While there is no chance of catching Trinidad & Tobago who have 1 299 points, the twin-island state is a shoo-in for a third consecutive title, while the Bajans have a realistic chance of staying second, ahead of Jamaica (526).
Barbados also arrived in last year’s final in second place but Guyana had overhauled their total to finish as runners-up to T&T by just three points. The fourth-placed Guyanese will again aim to build on their current total, but Barbados have a significantly higher cushion in the standings this time around, with an advantage of 422 points over the host nation, compared with 274 last year, while Jamaica will not be fielding a strong team.
In individual terms, Maloney (RX-3) won’t have a realistic shot at retaining his 2WD Gp4 title but since he is the Gp5 leader he has automatically won that class’ inaugural championship as it won’t be competed at South Dakota.
The GP4 battle will be one to watch this weekend with Vieira’s countryman and GP4 AWD defending champion Andrew King (RX-7) second and Quinian Lall (Mazda Miata) of Team CAMS third. These drivers will be joined by 2014 & 2015 champion Kristian Jeffrey.
Vieira was the highest points-scorer of the day at South Dakota last year; Maloney won the opening race but failed to finish the second outing when his engine’s kill switch malfunctioned before finishing second in race three.
Although Mark Thompson has an outside chance of claiming the Gp2 crown, it will call for catastrophic bad luck for points leader, Trinidad and Tobago’s Marc Gill (Honda Civic) to not usurp the current champion Thompson’s spot. Gill, the only non-Bajan to have won Gp2 when he lifted the cup in 2015, does not have the strongest of records in Guyana but, for Thompson to succeed, Gill will have to retire from all three races with the defending champion winning them.
This weekend’s 27-race programme also features the final round of the Radical Caribbean SR3 Cup, alongside the GMR&SC’s National classes.
Leading the much buzzed-about Radical Cup is Mark Maloney’s brother Stuart, of Barbados, but he will face tough opposition from seasoned Guyanese campaigners Calvin Ming and Jeffrey who both missed the entire season due to racing commitments in North America and Europe.