Pope eases ahead in BPMSI Champion Driver title chase
Clubman 1 class-leader Jermin Pope has eased ahead of title rival Quincy Jones following an action-packed series of Bushy Park Motor Sports Inc (BPMSI) 2015 Championship races last Sunday. Frequent rain showers created challenging track conditions for competitors on both two and four wheels at the Williams Industries Digicel International Race Meet, at which C2 winner Adrian Bailey was crowned the day’s Champion Driver.
The BPMSI contenders were the first to suffer the lashes of the weather; following Seaboard Marine CMRC events for Group 2, Group 3 and Superstock bikes, storm clouds were gathering as the Clubman and Modified Production classes assembled for their first race of the day. By mid-distance, heavy rain was falling and the race was red-flagged after the first few cars had completed four laps, with the results declared after lap three.
Conditions were less extreme for the day’s two remaining races, but the delays resulted in the cancellation of the Hilti Handicaps, which also allowed for a smooth hand-over to the Barbados Association of Dragsters & Drifters (BADD) in time for the agreed 6.00pm start of Drag Warz 3; despite that, the drag racers also suffered with the weather.
Pope (Honda Civic) had qualified on pole position for C1, more than 1sec faster than Geoffrey Ullyett (Nissan 120Y), racing at Bushy Park for the first time in 2015; Andre Walcott (Suzuki Swift), hat-trick class-winner at the season-opener in March, lined up third. Pope won two of the day’s three races, Ullyett the other winner, with Walcott, Paul St Hill (Nissan) and Peter Thompson (Starlet) also making appearances in the top three.
Jones (Starlet) claimed a clean sweep of wins in Modified Production 1, but suffered from the class being unusually poorly supported, with a reduced scale of points awarded; in the shortened first race, he beat Tremaine Forde-Catwell (Daihatsu Charmant) and Robert Gill (Starlet), with Forde-Catwell also second in race two, after Gill retired. Only Jones and Gill took the start for race three; although he still comfortably leads the class, he has lost his overall advantage to Pope.
While there are four more drivers with a mathematical chance of claiming BPMSI’s first Champion Driver title, it is now almost certain that it will be settled between these two at the final round in October. With only 18 points apiece for his first two class wins, then another 15 from race three, Jones scored a total of 52 on Sunday, compared with Pope’s 68, which has moved him four points ahead, 173 to 169.
Walcott is third in the Overall standings with 125 points, while Bailey is tied on 116 for fourth with Forde-Catwell; not only did Bailey win C2 three times in his Peugeot 205 on Sunday, beating Ryan Wood (BMW Compact) in race one and his mentor Simon Gillmore (205) in race two, but he and Gillmore also scored valuable CMRC Country Championship points. Racing in Group 2 for the first time, they claimed five top six finishes between them, their best finishes of the day third and fourth respectively in race one.
The last driver who could theoretically claim the Champion Driver title is Steve King (Starlet), who has 116 points. He slipped further behind on Sunday, beaten twice in SuperSport 3 by Kenrick Husbands (Starlet), while he retired from the second race, when he slid on to the infield on the exit of Cockspur Cyclone and could not find enough grip on the rain-soaked grass to make it back on to the track.
The growing enthusiasm for bike racing in the island resulted in the largest grids on two wheels ever seen at Bushy Park, as competitors in the BPMSI classes faced teams from Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago. Local riders offered a significantly stronger challenge to the more experienced regional entry than before – Guyana’s Stephen Vieira said on Facebook: “The Bajans are honestly stepping up their game and they are improving a lot” – but the scrap for BPMSI points was also on their minds.
Kris Brathwaite’s (Suzuki) fourth place in the opening CMRC Superstock race was the best result for Team Barbados, followed by Brook Miller and Shirley Scantlebury finishing fifth and sixth respectively in the other two races, both on Suzukis. While Scantlebury was the highest points-scorer on the day, Braithwaite has taken the lead of Class A, just 10 points ahead of fellow Suzuki rider Terrance Ollivierre, with Devan McCartney third.
In Class B, Jason Griffin (Yamaha) is the new leader, after a consistent day of second-place finishes, twice behind newcomer Marc-Lee Bascombe (Yamaha), once behind Ronnie Cooke (Kawasaki); Griffin’s cushion is only three points, however, over Kevin Wickham (Honda), who had two fourth-place finishes on Sunday, with Rommel Walton, whose familiar Honda CRF 450R was not seen at the weekend, now third.