Radical visitors give ‘thumbs up’ to Bushy Park Barbados

Bushy Park Barbados earned high praise from racing drivers from Britain, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and the United States who travelled to the island last month for the inaugural Radical International, which hosted the first two rounds of the Suzuki Challenge Series Winter Cup. They not only gave the ‘thumbs up’ to the facility, but also to the island and the warm and enthusiastic welcome they received.

Seven newcomers raced on the 2.01-kilometre International Circuit for the first time over the weekend of January 23/24, as the largest grids of Suzuki-powered Radical SR3 race cars so far seen in Barbados tackled the longest races staged at the redeveloped facility. They joined the local competitors in six 15-lap races over two days, with two new drivers - Suleman Esuf of Barbados and Guyana's Calvin Ming - each claiming pole position with a new Qualifying Record, then their first Radical race wins.

Seven newcomers raced on the 2.01-kilometre International Circuit for the first time over the weekend of January 23/24, as the largest grids of Suzuki-powered Radical SR3 race cars so far seen in Barbados tackled the longest races staged at the redeveloped facility. They joined the local competitors in six 15-lap races over two days, with two new drivers – Suleman Esuf of Barbados and Guyana’s Calvin Ming – each claiming pole position with a new Qualifying Record, then their first Radical race wins.

America’s Jim Parr was the only one of the non-regulars to have raced at Bushy Park before, last March. He said: “I’m glad to be back in Barbados, it’s a beautiful island, I love it. Matt Bell from England, who races for Bentley, has been coaching me this week; he says this track is highly technical, and he’s raced all around the world, including Australia and South America.”

Of Bushy Park, Bell said: “It’s absolutely great racing, a great atmosphere, great circuit, I love being here.”

Fresh from his Caribbean trip, Bell finished third in last weekend’s (February 5-7) Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race in Australia, with fellow Brits Steven Kane and Guy Smith in a works Bentley Continental run by M-Sport.

Most successful of the UK contingent was Brian Caudwell, who ended the weekend seventh, with three fifth places his best results. He is another to have developed a liking for Barbados: “I came for a holiday and found out that my main passion of motor racing is actually on the island, which I didn’t know at the time. Meeting such a great bunch of people and to be able to come here and race a car . . . that’s just heaven, really.”

David Frankland and Bill Henderson, both of whom have raced Radicals for more than 10 years, echoed his thoughts. Frankland said: “We’ve had a great welcome. I think the place, and particularly the people, are absolutely fantastic. There’s a good attitude.” Henderson added: “It’s a beautiful place. The weather’s a whole lot better than the UK, that’s for sure. It’s our first time over here, and we don’t get conditions like this at home, even in the summer, so it was very good, very testing. And the circuit does test you, there’s really no rest at all, it’s a full 15 minutes of hard driving.”

While Frankland and Henderson were new to Barbados, 17-year-old Jack Manchester has been a regular visitor, explains father Glen: “Jack and I have been travelling to the island since he was a little boy so it feels like a second home to him. He has played lots of cricket on the island with his school and proudly took part in the Barbados Football Cup at the National Stadium. The people at Bushy Park have been amazing, including the other drivers, and Jack is so excited to have had his first races there.”

Manchester’s driver coach, former Formula Renault Champion Kieren Clark of UK-based Mark Blundell and Partners, was also impressed with what he found: “Experiencing Barbados and Bushy Park for the first time, I can honestly say I have never met a more welcoming, friendly group of people. I feel there isn’t a more productive environment for Jack to have had his debut. He developed quickly in the relaxed and friendly atmosphere and we will be returning for the next round in February to continue his development.”

David Coelho from Trinidad & Tobago and Ming have joined the Suzuki Challenge Series for the longer term, with the Guyanese 19-year-old making an instant impression. Despite not even having driven his Radical until the Tuesday of race week, Ming finished second twice on Saturday, then claimed pole position on Sunday, winning two races; with two fourth-place finishes added in, he lies second on points to Sean Maloney.

Ming said: “It’s a really good experience. We started driving Tuesday and we had quite a lot of work to do to get the set-up. But in the first race, it was a pretty good set-up, so I was content with the car. It’s obviously an adrenalin rush, but I started racing at the age of six, so I kinda got used to it from when I was young.”

Having spent the past few years rallying – he won Group N in the Barbados Rally Club Championship last year – former karting champion Coelho has not raced since 2009, but was also enjoying the experience: “I love coming to Bushy Park, it’s fantastic. It is amazing that we have a facility like this in the Caribbean. It’s so good for motor sport in general. It’s our first event, so I’m just getting accustomed to the car, getting seat time and getting comfortable. It’s been a lot of fun so far.”

The final round of the Suzuki Challenge Series Winter Cup will be staged on Saturday 27th February starting at 12 Noon.

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