CJKAT is modelled on the CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy, which has been the first rung on the ladder of the FIA's single-seater path to F1 since 2010, previous winners including current Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who won in 2011 at age 12. To allow more opportunities for Caribbean hopefuls to race, the regional series caters for a wider age range than in Europe, where the limits are 12 to 14 years old.

FIA American Congress welcomes CJKAT success

FIA American Congress welcomes CJKAT success

CJKAT is modelled on the CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy, which has been the first rung on the ladder of the FIA's single-seater path to F1 since 2010, previous winners including current Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who won in 2011 at age 12. To allow more opportunities for Caribbean hopefuls to race, the regional series caters for a wider age range than in Europe, where the limits are 12 to 14 years old.

The success of the Caribbean Junior Karting Academy Trophy (CJKAT) and its ongoing contribution to the development of motor sport in the region was welcomed by attendees at the recent 2023 FIA American Congress hosted by the Automóvil Club Guatemala. David Williams, Vice President of the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF) which administers CJKAT, was among speakers who addressed the Congress in the presence of FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem and other members of the FIA Leadership Team.

More than 170 delegates from 26 countries attended the event at the Casa Santo Domingo Hotel in the World Heritage city of Antigua Guatemala, which was supported by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Region III and IV and the North America and South America FIA sport regions. The Congress was also attended by FIA Deputy President for Sport Robert Reid, Vice President for Sport – North America Daniel Coen, who addressed the Opening Ceremony at CJKAT23 in Jamaica last month, and Vice President for Sport – South America Fabiana Ecclestone, who welcomed the news that the third CJKAT Champion is 13-year-old Naomi Garcia from Trinidad and Tobago.

The Sport Programme on Day 2 of the three-day Congress looked at the development of Esports in the Americas, also how Sport Club Empowerment can increase participation as the FIA seeks to double the numbers taking part in motor sport in the coming years. Williams, who presented his CJKAT report as part of the Sport Club Empowerment segment, explained: “The presentation concentrated on the importance of developing young drivers by creating a sustainable regional championship working with the ASNs in other Caribbean territories to implement the FIA ASN development series concept. It also dealt with the role the media has to play with coverage on both print and electronic platforms.

“As well as the main content of the CJKAT presentation, I made particular mention of Naomi’s achievement in winning in Jamaica, which we hope will lead to greater things. I also mentioned Zane Maloney and the fact that he started his motor sport journey karting in Barbados; while most delegates clearly knew him as last year’s FIA Rookie Champion, they had not heard the phrase ‘The Boy from Barbados‘, which proved very popular.”

CJKAT is modelled on the CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy which has been the first rung on the ladder of the FIA’s single-seater path to F1 since 2010 and funded by the FIA Sport Grant Programme and administered by the BMF. After the inaugural event at Bushy Park Barbados in 2019, the annual competition was interrupted by the pandemic, the second CJKAT not run until November 2022, again at Bushy Park, hosted by the Barbados Karting Association (BKA). The third took place at the Palisadoes International Raceway in Jamaica last month (July 23-25), hosted by the Jamaica Karting Association (JKA).

More than 30 kart racers from Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago aged between 11 and 17 years have taken part, 19 of them 13 or younger at the time of their participation. Barbadians Adam Mallalieu and Calem Maloney were the Champions in 2019 and ’22, Maloney winning in his second year; this year’s Champion Naomi Garcia was also in her second year, one of eight racers who had contested CJKAT22. Apart from one who retired from the competition after incurring an injury on the second day, every repeat driver improved in overall finishing position compared to 2022, reinforcing the developmental value of the regional competition. It is planned for CJKAT24 to take place in Garcia’s home country, hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Karting Association (TTKA).

On his return, Williams said: “It was truly an honour to have represented Barbados, the Barbados Motoring Federation and the Caribbean region at such a level and with such a distinguished audience, including FIA President Ben Sulayem and so many members of the FIA’s senior management. I also felt a sense of achievement to be congratulated by many of the participants with the way the presentation was delivered.”

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