Jeffrey thrives on pressure at Radical International
Two-time Caribbean Motor Racing Champion, Guyana’s Kristian Jeffrey, is benefitting from lessons learned in the tough competition arena of January’s Radical International at Bushy Park Barbados, where he won four of the weekend’s six races to be crowned Suzuki Challenge Series SR3 Winter Cup Champion. The weekend produced the closest and most dramatic racing yet seen among the Suzuki-powered Radicals, with less than a second covering each driver’s fastest lap.
Jeffrey won the regional title in 2014 and ’15, his first two seasons in the CMRC, winning 14 of the 21 races, a record unlikely to be beaten any time soon. Last year, however, nothing went well until towards the end of the season, with a win and third place in the SR3 Cup at Bushy Park in September and two CMRC victories on his home track, South Dakota, in November.
The new season has started on a high note; following his SR3 Cup success, he went on to defeat a field of seasoned shifter kart racers in last Friday’s (February 24) Georgetown Grand Prix in Guyana’s capital city, winning all three races. Former Barbados Karting Association (BKA) Champion Orry Hunte, now Lead Instructor at Bushy Park, finished second and third in races one and three respectively, but retired from a huge four-kart battle with Jeffrey, Elliott Vieira and Mike Gonzalves when his carburettor came off.
And that result on home ground for Jeffrey certainly reinforced the remarks he made after Radical International: “We have started putting the best foot forward here . . . the momentum started yesterday. Hopefully, it carries on for the rest of the year. Competing at this level is definitely a learning experience, and we have all benefitted from Bradley Smith being here. Those Brits, they’re fast, man.
“The whole approach this weekend is you have to take it in a professional manner. Sometimes, it required more tyres than usual, but it proved fruitful. If you approach it in a professional manner, you can come out on top. All these guys here are fast, all weekend they were right up on my bumper and there was no room for error and I took the pressure good today. So hopefully, everything comes out in future like that.”
The 2014 Radical European Masters Champion, Smith was one of three British driver coaches on hand over the weekend, along with Roger Bromley, who has raced Radicals and stock cars, and former Radical Champion and GT racer Stuart Moseley. Suzuki Challenge Series Manager Simon Willis said: “Two things struck me. First, the camaraderie in the pits was fantastic – the way that everyone jumped in to help get Sol Esuf back out on Sunday after his car was so badly damaged in the first race was amazing; you could hardly see the car for guys working on it.
“More than that, though, it was nice to see the competitors not only enjoying the weekend, but the fact that we had three top Radical racers working behind the scenes as engineers and driver coaches shows how seriously the drivers take this event. The fact that all drivers got below 60 seconds, and seven of them were in the 58s shows that all the hard work in testing paid off.”
Sol Esuf qualified on pole on Saturday in a time of 58.663 seconds, a shade quicker than Jeffrey’s Sunday pole time of 58.744s, but the fastest lap of the weekend – unusually - was a race lap (58.563s), recorded by David Simpson in Sunday’s opening race. Three other drivers set fastest laps: Sean Maloney (58.652s), UK visitor Brian Caudwell (58.663s) and Mark Maloney (once on Saturday, twice on Sunday, the best of which was 58.776s). With Jeffrey and Stuart Maloney recording identical personal bests of the weekend at 58.841s, less than three-tenths of a second covered the top six, while Trinidad & Tobago’s David Coelho, who had a challenging weekend, was still within a second of Simpson with 59.491s.
Driver coach and engineer Bromley, who was working with Sean Maloney, said: “The truth is these days, with cars as technologically advanced as this, you really need a computer. We’re looking at every single inch of data - miles per hour, brake pressure, throttle, steering input - and analysing them. There’s no hiding place; if Sean’s doing something wrong, it’s there for all to see. We saw a couple of things in the way he was approaching the lap that he could adjust a little bit . . . and because he’s a decent driver he can make the change just like that. So the credit goes to him really, he’s the one that puts it into practice.”
Willis concluded: “The times from Radical International are very impressive, and I was pleased to see some new names at the sharp end of the time sheets, including David Simpson and Britain’s Brian Caudwell, whose best race lap equalled Sol’s pole time from Saturday. All in all, I was very encouraged by the weekend and believe it is definitely something that we can build on in the future.”