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Karters set for test of speed and stamina

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Final preparations: David Selley leads Owen DeCosta around a bend at the Rubis Southside Raceway last weekend(Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Eight of the island’s top karters will team up to represent Bermuda in a test of speed and stamina at the 24 Hours of Italy this weekend.

Team Bermuda, featuring Scott Barnes, David Barbosa, Mark Selley, David Selley, Jeff Sousa, Ryan Lopes, Blake Horseman and Owen DeCosta, will take on about 40 racing outfits from around the world at the Adria Karting Raceway in Northern Italy.

Run by the CRG factory, the event is one of the most prestigious in the karting world and will be the first time any of the island’s drivers have competed in Europe.

Drivers will rotate throughout the 24-hour race, completing laps for 45-minute stints in the CRG Centurion karts, equipped with Honda 390cc engines, with each team having to perform a minimum of 25 pitstops.

All eight of Team Bermuda are from the Bermuda Karting Club and have been training together in the gym and at the Rubis Southside Raceway to ensure they are physically and mentally ready for the challenge.

Barnes, the former BKC president, has been tasked with getting the team off to a flying start as their opening driver and believes a podium place is not out of reach.

“We’re used to doing 12-minute races, so it’s definitely not going to be a ‘normal’ race for us,” said Barnes, who has competed in several races in the United States.

“We have to keep our heads and make sure we complete 45-minutes worth of good laps. Eight guys may be an advantage because we should always be fresh [each team can enter four to eight drivers] That may work in our favour.”

Barnes admits the drivers will face a different type of pressure than they are used to during the BKC Series but said he is confident in the ability of each team-mate.

“Down at Southside we’re competing against each other, so I’m looking forward to being team-mates with these guys,” added Barnes, who is leading the Shifters, Tag Seniors and L206 Senior classes this season.

“It’s going to be different and you certainly don’t want be the one who messes up! We don’t have any worries, though; we have a strong team.

“We’re all very competitive racers and we’re going out there to win the race. It would be great to be on the podium. A top-seven might be a realistic aim.”

Barbosa, who has been karting for more than 30 years, said the team have had plenty of seat time in the club’s rental karts in preparation.

“It’s a matter of everybody focusing and doing their part,” Barbosa, who first formulated the idea of entering the endurance race after visiting the CRG factory last year.

“It’s quite a complicated event and there’s a lot of strategy to it. The lightest person will have to meet a required weight — kart and driver. If they’re under weight, we will have to add to it.

“We’re going up against the cream of the crop and we’ll be going all out for the win.”

At 17, Owen DeCosta is the youngest member of the team, which will be competing the professional category. The Saltus Grammar School pupil said he was excited about teaming up with local karting “idols” Barnes and Barbosa.

“David and Scott are definitely [local karting] idols to look up,” said DeCosta, who competes in the Shifters. “They have been mentors to me and are always willing to help out whether it’s driving or assembling the kart.

“The main thing is to just hit your marks and keep your concentration. It’s very exciting to be competing in an foreign event like this.”

The race, which starts on Saturday with the Drivers’ Parade, will be streamed live on kartcrg.com and on the Facebook page (CRG Factory)

Team Bermuda: from left, David Selley, Jordan Fletcher (pit crew), Owen DeCosta, David Barbosa, Scott Barnes, Jeff Sousa, Blake Horseman, Marcus Pimentel pit crew), Mark Selley. Missing from the picture is Ryan Lopes