EKN Trackside – Dockyard Grand Prix Report

Bermuda Karting Club entertains huge crowd on city streets

Scott 'Skitchy' Barnes scored two wins at this year's Bermuda Karting Club Dockyard Grand Prix, winning in TaG Senior and 125cc Shifter
(Photo: Blaire Simmons -Royal Gazette)

For the third time, the Bermuda Karting Club took to the streets of their beautiful island to bring the sport of karting to its residents and visitors. This year’s race returned to the Royal Naval Dockyards on April 29-30, where it shared the northwest point of the 20.5 square mile island with the teams preparing for the upcoming America’s Cup. A tight and challenging track was laid out around the Clock Tower Mall, one that provided a feel similar to that of the famed Rock Island Grand Prix with its primarily 90-degree corners. In 2016, the club put on two separate street races at the Dockyard and on Front Street in Hamilton, the country’s capital, introducing the sport to their community. This time around, BKC President Scott ‘Skitchy’ Barnes ran in both the TaG Senior and 125cc Shifter classes in the Grand Prix and he recorded a perfect slate of wins, sweeping qualifying, heat races and main events. Jamie Newton, Nick Narraway, Austin Riley and EKN’s Rob Howden also came away with victories.

The race was made possible by the huge support provided by Bermuda Autism Support and Education (BASE) and Rubis, as well as Frito Lay, Pepsi, E-Moo and Red Laser. Associate sponsors of the event included Keen Ltd, Joe Viera Trucking, Sparyard, G&J Construction, Hakuna Matata Charters, Bonefish Bar and Grill, Woodys and the West End Bermuda.

Blake Deister (third from left) won the CRG Bermuda Rental Kart VIP race

Barnes is well-known in the United States for his participation and successes in both road racing and street racing, having competed in the Rock Island Grand Prix, the Lone Star Grand Prix, the SKUSA SuperNationals and the Championship Enduro Series. On this year’s Dockyard Grand Prix weekend, the only race that he was not able to win was the rental kart VIP finale, which was organized by CRG Bermuda Kart Rentals in their CRG Centurian machines. They operate their program at the club’s track – Rubis Southside Raceway – located at the airport. Five heat races of five drivers each set the stage for the final, as the winners would then face off in a 12-lap battle. Topkart USA’s Blake Deister was able to hold off ‘Racing with Autism’ ambassador Austin Riley and EKN’s own Rob Howden in his heat race, and he would then fend off all of Barnes’ attacks in the final to win the day. Barnes finished second, while Riley’s cousin Shane dominated his heat race and went on to finish third in the final. One of the heat races featured Oracle Team USA America’s Cup crew members, and they battled hard for bragging rights as they head into their own month-long race event on Bermuda’s Great Sound.

Aussie Jamie Newton scored the Cadet win on the streets surrounding the Clock Tower Mall
(Photo: Blaire Simmons -Royal Gazette)

Jamie Newton, the son of Oracle Team USA sailor (and 206 racer) Joey Newton, dominated the Cadet class in his Team Topkart entry, qualifying on pole before sweeping all three heat races. The Australian was chased by Nile Bean (Topkart) for the first half of the 12-lap final on Sunday, but eventually stretched away to commanding victory. Jake Hines (Intrepid) capped the top-three, where he ran for most of the weekend. Hines battled through a severe stomach ailment overnight, but toughed it out on Sunday to put in an impressive performance.

The combined TaG Senior / TaG Junior race group was third on Sunday’s docket, and Barnes controlled all of the sessions, chased by both David Selley (CRG) and David Barbosa (CRG) in the heats and mains. In the final, Barnes (Intrepid) led from the green flag into Turn 1, but chaos erupted behind him as Selley and Barbosa got together at the apex, stacking up the rest of the field. Everyone was able to get pointed in the right direction and back underway by the time Barnes got back to the scene, so the focus went onto Selley, who drove on the ragged edge in attempt to catch the leader. With Barnes backing down a little, Selley chopped away at the big lead, getting it down to about five kart lengths as the white flag appeared. In his bid for the win, Selley overcooked Turn 4 and looped his CRG. Barnes would win unchallenged, while Barbosa came through to take second over Bilal Binns. Selley could not re-fire his engine, but instead pushed his kart down the straightaway and across the line, much to the delight of the cheering fans in the grandstands.

EKN Editor-in-Chief Rob Howden celebrated his LO206 win in the scale line with BKC president Scott Barnes
(Photo: Jason Riley)

The LO206 Masters race developed immediately into a battle between Shannon Caisey (CRG), Bobby DeCosta (Tony Kart) and EKN’s Rob Howden (GP). Caisey qualified on pole and won the first heat over DeCosta and Howden. In the second moto, Caisey again topped the trio, but Howden slipped by DeCosta late in the race for second. The Canadian got the jump on the polesitter in Sunday afternoon’s third heat to lead from green to checker, securing the outside pole for the race, and then made a similar move in the final to edge Caisey to the turn two right-left chicane. DeCosta got by Caisey as well, and then planted himself on Howden’s rear bumper to start the race-long battle. This potential showdown would not develop however, as DeCosta clipped the turn four barrier midway through the race, collecting the third and fourth place drivers in the process, although they would both eventually continue. Howden went on to win by a large margin over Jonathan Howes (Margay) and AJ Durham (Intrepid).

‘Racing with Autism’ ambassador Austin Riley gained celebrity status in Bermuda for his on-track and off-track performances
(Photo: Blaire Simmons -Royal Gazette)

Caisey jumped right from his LO206 into his Praga shifter to battle with Barnes (Intrepid) and Riley (CRG) for the win in 125cc Shifter. The crowd was on its feet for the last race of the day. Barnes had swept all four sessions up to the 14-lap main, but Riley was relentless in his pressure and tried Barnes at every corner. On one lap, midway through the race, Barnes engine stumbled slight coming out of turn four, which allowed Austin to pull inside Skitchy heading to turn one, but the Bermudian came across his bow from starboard to port to defend the overtaking attempt. Riley gained as much respect on the track as he did off it, showing his fitness and sportsmanship in his run to second. Riley visited a number of schools during the trip with his ‘Racing with Autism’ presentation, gaining friends and fans in the paddock and all over the island. Barnes, Riley and Caisey were the official top-three. With Barnes winning the overall and Stock Shifter class, Riley was also awarded the first place trophy in the Mod Shifter class.

Plans are currently in the drawing board for the club’s next street race in 2018, which could potentially be moved to a different location.

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