Parker’s eased into top gear

  

The AI Group Summer Corporate
Karting League turned out to be the biggest motorsport competition held in the
Cayman Islands as far as breadth of participation goes. 

A total of 227 drivers raced over
the course of the season for 20 teams representing local companies. The
competition brought together those with already well established racing
reputations whether it be locally from Time Attack, drag racing or the old days
on the marl pit, those with just a need for speed and a whole host of people
having their first taste of motorsport. It then put them all in the same type
of vehicle and let them race together. The competition demanded a combination
of raw speed for qualifying, racing ability for the 50 lap races and a keen strategic
mind to make the right pit stop calls. The result was some thrilling racing,
plenty of drama, lots of emotion and the emergence of some new racing reputations.

The season consisted of 10 rounds
of racing and at the end of driving 100 miles around the track Team Parker’s
emerged as the clear winners.  The team
brought together the talents of Kelcey Huggins, Bobby Hulse, Josh Rivers and
Michael Weatherford to race under the banner of the local auto parts store. Each
team was required to field one female for each race and Huggins fulfilled that
role admirably for Team Parker’s, setting a new female lap record of 31.940
seconds in the process. 

What is most remarkable about
Kelcey’s success is that she is only 16 and had not driven before getting
involved in the corporate karting leagues. Michael Weatherford was the raw
speed in the team and helped secure a number of their points for pole position
and fastest lap. Meanwhile Josh Rivers often played the key role of first
driver ensuring that he kept the team out in front and more often than not
building up a good lead ahead of the first round of pit stops. Bobby Hulse, the
current Cayman Motorsports Association president, was team captain and the
racing know-how he brought to the team was evident throughout the season. 

Team Parker’s success is all the
more impressive for the quiet and efficient way the team has conducted itself
whilst racing. They ended the Spring League in a solid fifth place and whilst
they began the summer season slowly they proved to be the most dangerous type
of team: one that was on a continually improving curve. They started with a
third place, followed it up with two second places then found a winning formula
that saw them take the chequered flag for the next seven successive races.

Hulse said: “As captain I could not
be more proud of the Team Parker’s racers. We started off the season slow with
the intention of running as clean as we could and focusing on bettering
ourselves as karters. Every race we focused on improving things a little more
and those baby steps added up in the end. What can I say…we rocked out.
Special thanks to Parker’s and the AI Group for giving us the chance to race.”

The team will now be sitting out
the next league as Kelcey has exams to attend to and, with the Cayman
Motorsports Association taking on responsibility for marshalling the Autumn
Premier League, Bobby will be supervising the racing rather than participating.

Automotive Art pushed Team Parker’s
all the way to end, but were unable to match their consistency and were left to
claim a strong second place in the league. The Automotive Art team included
Wayne and Tom Kirkconnell as well as a second member of the Huggins family in
Kimberley. The raw speed for their team was provided by George Manderson, 17,
who is still the only person to have driven the Reverse Track in under 31
seconds.

Finishing in third was the team
from Harneys who were also the highest placed law firm in the league. Harneys
were league leaders during the middle of the season, but were unable to sustain
the good form which had seen them win five in a row. Team captain and head of
the Harneys Cayman Islands office Kieron O’Rourke provided some consistently
strong drives and the team benefitted from Jenny Deacon’s impressive
performances. The rest of the legal field was made up of two teams from Maples
and Calder and one team from Walkers. Maples’ first team, Maples and Karter,
also enjoyed a strong start and held the league lead for two weeks during the
early part of the season. They ultimately finished fifth with Walkers ninth and
the Maples second team, M&C Hammer, in 15th.

The league also featured four teams
from the accounting world with Deloitte taking the bragging rights in that
particular field.  They finished eighth
with KPMG 1 behind them in tenth and KPMG 2 16th. Further down in 18th were
Ernst and Young who pursued a wide driver rotation policy and fielded 22
different team members during the season.

Automotive Art’s second team,
Automotive Art Too,  brought together the
driving talents of veteran racer Andy Bodden and karting prodigy Daron Mclean,
17. Daron is the current lap record holder for the regular track and the cousin
of George Manderson who holds the lap record for the reverse track. Whilst
Automotive Art Too finished the season in sixth place the speed of Andy and
Daron meant they claimed more pole positions and more fastest lap points than
any of the other teams.

One of the attractions of the
league was that it brought all types of companies together. In addition to the
representatives from the automotive industry and the legal and accountancy
professions there were teams from companies like Cayman Airways, LIME, Z99,
dms, Island Paving and Bateman Financial. Special mention goes to the RCIPS who
had the most enthusiastic (noisy) supporters and the Island Heritage Hurricane
Fighters who, despite being Cayman Karting’s liability insurers, were involved
in the most collisions and received the most black flags!

Track owner Alasdair Foster said:
“The league certainly provided a rigorous test of driving skill. For the middle
half of the season the track was reversed so a whole new layout had to be
learnt and a new racing line worked out. The most remarkable thing to come out
of this process was the result of switching the league races back to the
regular track for the final two rounds of the season. Suddenly almost everybody
was driving faster than they had been on the regular track at the start of the
season. 

“The process of learning a new
course had clearly helped the drivers with understanding how best to tackle the
corners and when reapplied to the regular track personal bests tumbled.”

The organisers were fortunate with
the weather and only one week of the league had to be postponed as a result of
the nascent tropical storm Karl. Several races did, however, start in wet
conditions which proved an even greater examination of driving ability. The
first part of the race would involve driving very carefully on the wet track
whilst the latter part of the race would allow advantage to be taken of the
drying racing line. A new style of driving was required in these conditions and
Deloitte in particular proved themselves adept at managing the wet conditions.

A full breakdown of results showing
how the season was won and lost has been uploaded to the Wikipedia page on
Cayman Karting. Next up at Cayman Karting is an Autumn Premier League which removes
many of the driver limitations during the race (no minimum laps per driver, no
female requirement and a minimum of only one driver required), but does impose
a sub-35 second requirement on drivers wishing to participate.

New for this league will be a round
of races on a deliberately wet track as well as the first chance to drive the
High Speed Outer Loop format of the track in a time trial. The races will
continue to be held under floodlights on Monday and Tuesday evenings although
in this league they will be longer at 70 laps duration.

 

* The sign-up deadline is Monday 27
September. A Winter Corporate League will begin in December. More details are
available at ww.caymankarting.com.

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