Repeat CMRC champions Mark Maloney (left) and Mark Thompson with the Barbados flag. (GP)
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THEY HAVE made their mark in the Seaboard Marine Caribbean Motor Racing Championship (CMRC) once again.
Mark Maloney and Mark Thompson clinched back-to-back CMRC titles on Sunday in the final round of the regional series at the South Dakota racing circuit in Guyana.
With one victory and a second-place finish each, Maloney (Group 4 - 2-wheel drive) and Thompson (Group 2) covered themselves in glory with the latter bringing his CMRC championship crowns to four.
Despite their best efforts, Barbados (580) slipped behind Guyana (583) by just three points to finish third in the Country Championship title chase.
Although shipping delays meant some of the Trinbago soca circuit racers missed the action, Trinidad Tobago had led the standings throughout the year and predictably clinched a second consecutive Country title with 1278 points.
Neither of Maloney’s two closest challengers – T’s Franklyn Boodram (Renault Megane Trophy) nor Jamaica’s Peter Rae (Mazda RX-7) – raced on Sunday, but the Rock Hard Cement/Sign Station RX-3 still faced strong opposition from long-time sparring partner Guyana’s Mark Vieira and his RX-8.
While Maloney got the best of Vieira in the opening race, he failed to finish the second outing when his engine kill switch malfunctioned. He subsequently finished second in race three and even though Vieira was the highest points-scorer on the day, Maloney claimed the title.
Former CMRC champion Roger Mayers (Chefette/Digicel/Rubis/DHL/Hankook/Illusion Graphics ‘De Focus’) was racing at South Dakota for the first time since he clinched the title there in 2011.
He improved on the circuit lap record in Saturday qualifying, but was eclipsed minutes after by home town ace Kristian Jeffrey (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX). The two-time CMRC champion then set a new CMRC record of 33.957s in Sunday’s race two.
Pole-sitter Jeffrey got the jump on Mayers at the start with the Group 4 four-wheel drive cars running with the Group 4 two-wheel drive field, but the two cars were rarely more than a few inches apart.
Contact at the Esses on the second lap, however, resulted in both retiring. Mayers was not seen again while Jeffrey went on to win the other two races. As he had not raced in the CMRC earlier in the year, the title went to compatriot Andrew King (RX-7) in the absence of his closest challenger, Jamaica’s Kyle Gregg (Radical RXC).
In Group 2, Thompson’s target of a fourth title looked to be less challenging, in the absence of the T drivers, who were close behind in the standings.
He qualified the Honda Civic third in the group, behind local drivers Shairaz Roshandin and Chet Singh, both also in Civics and regular CMRC Group 2 contenders.
While Thompson won the opening encounter from Roshandin, he was elbowed out of race two, failing to score. He then came back to finish second to Roshandin in the day’s final race.
Just like Maloney, while Roshandin was the highest points-scorer for the meet, Thompson went home with the CMRC title and his 29th CMRC race win.
The final member of the Barbados team was Tremaine Forde-Catwell. While he was racing at South Dakota for the fourth consecutive year, it was the first time in the family’s Hilti/Cheese Auto Glass/Rezult Auto/Marks Auto Spares/SDRR Nissan 1200 Turbo in Group 3.
Having scored points in his regular Daihatsu Charmant on each of his previous visits, hopes were high for a good performance, and he delivered.
Forde-Catwell landed fifth, fourth and third places to be the highest points-scorer behind local driver Vishok Persaud (Lotus Elise), who won all three races.
The results elevated Persaud to third place in Group 3 at year-end, behind Trinidadians Paul Vieira (RX-7) and Ronald Wortman (Civic), who didn’t compete on Sunday, and hat-trick winner Persaud. (PR/EZS)