Mark wins US GP trip in Bushy Park Karting Race-Off
Jim ‘Jimbob’ Mark is heading to the 2018 United States Grand Prix for a once-in-a-lifetime trip as the first Bushy Park Barbados Karting Experience Champion. He won last Saturday’s (February 3) Top Ten Race-Off, in a competition he described as “genius”; Cody Foster finished second and Chris McFarlane third, out of approaching 100 hopefuls who had raced on the new track layout.
Mark has won two Formula 1 Paddock Club tickets, each valued at more than US$5,000, for the October event at the Circuit Of The Americas in Austin, Texas, courtesy of the Sahara Force India Formula One Team. Foster will enjoy a Bushy Park Radical Experience with Senior Instructor Orry Hunte, while Jamaica’s McFarlane claims a year’s Karting Experience Membership.
After his weekend success, Mark, who has not been to a Formula 1 race before, said: “Being part of the competition was fantastic! The idea of a race between the 10 fastest drivers, who had all set times within four-tenths of a second at the end of the early stages, was genius! The fact that I have won still really hasn’t sunk in.”
Saturday’s Race-Off featured the top 10 drivers on the final Leader Board published on January 7 who were available for the competition. From the fastest to the slowest, Corey Jackman (21.612 seconds) to Richard Clarke (21.988s), the spread was only just under four-tenths of a second, a far cry from the first Leader Board back in October, when the spread across the top 10 was more than 1sec . . . and the best time then was 23.283s.
After a track walk, as Saturday’s layout for the Race-Off was both new and longer, competitors drew lots to select their karts for the day, before a 10-minute Practice. Two Qualifying Heats followed to decide grid positions, with Mark on pole by five-hundredths from his cousin Cody Mark, despite having lagged in Practice; just under 1sec covered the field, but it was clear that the Mark cousins were on the pace. The rest of the grid lined up in the order: Kevin Watson, Foster, Derek Rudder, Richard Clarke, Jackman, McFarlane, Mark Anthony Hinkson and Ramon Clarke.
The 35-lap Final was frantic, the Mark cousins and Foster making the best of the start, with McFarlane passing three karts on the opening lap; while Jim and Cody Mark started to pull away from the pack, Cody started to lose pace, as first one wheel stud then all three were lost and he had to retire. While Jim Mark looked set for an easy win, Foster wasn't going down without a fight, gaining on the leader late in the race.
In a close-fought final few laps, both caught traffic as they were lapping the tail-enders on the tight 0.4152-kilometre track, but it played out in Mark’s favour, despite Foster putting in back-to-back fastest laps as he hunted the leader down. Afterwards, prize-winner Mark said: “Looking back, you realize that it takes more than just speed to win; hitting consistent laps and race craft are equally as important. It is a shame that my cousin Cody’s kart had issues, as I am sure he would have kept the pressure on for all 35 laps. Cody Foster inherited second place and mounted a late charge as my front tyres started to go off, but lapping the traffic played to my advantage. I would like to thank Bushy Park and all involved. They did an excellent job planning and executing this event.”
Bushy Park Circuit Inc (BPCI) Operations Manager Amy Willis said: “This has been a terrific journey. As well as giving Mark a real thumbs up on his talented driving and good sportsmanship, we also congratulate all of our speedy finalists for making it to the Top 10. More than that, heartfelt thanks to all who came out to support the final event, both spectators and crew! As well as the top three awards, we must also give honourable mention to Cody Mark – he was fastest in practice, second in qualifying and also won the prize for bringing out the biggest crowd. Brilliant.”