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Karting returns to the streets of Hamilton with a bang

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Taking the chequered flag: Brandon Franks, who clinched a thrilling victory in the show piece Stock Shifter Class

Engines roaring, tyres screeching, wheel to wheel close-quarter battles and no shortage of thrills and spills, kart racing returned to the streets of Hamilton in spectacular style.

After a six-year hiatus, 42 drivers, including six from overseas, thrilled the thousands of spectators who lined the brand new circuit around Court Street, Dundonald Street and Princess Street with two days of exhilarating race action in the Lindo’s Grand Prix.

With scenes reminiscent of the street races in Dockyard and along Front Street throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the return of such a spectacle was certainly worth the wait for drivers and spectators alike.

Thrills and spills: Jayden Brimmer crashes out in the Tag Senior Class

“This has just been incredible,” said Scott Barnes, the Bermuda Karting Club president, who fulfilled a longstanding ambition to hold the race.

“You can see how successful this event has been by the thousands of spectators around the entire circuit, there was nowhere to stand.

“Where else are you seeing this sort of event for karting? There are drivers here who have competed all over the United States and Canada and they all said the same thing, that they’ve never seen something like this.

“No international street race that I’ve done has brought a crowd out like this. Bermuda loves watching racing and I’m just thankful we managed to put on a show for them.

“We had six brilliant finals, it was wheel-to-wheel action just like we promised. I don’t think you’ll find anyone who is disappointed, the whole event was just epic. When you get race action, that number of spectators and weather like that, it makes it all worth the wait.”

As well as the success on the track, Barnes also highlighted the greater significance and importance of the event to the community.

Giving back: Karting Club present a $3,000 che to Bermuda Cancer and Health

“It has also been amazing for the community and this area of Hamilton, when have you ever seen North East Hamilton like this, with thousands of people on the streets?” he added.

“There have been no outside vendors, we used only the establishments in North East Hamilton, so it’s also been great for them. That was a majorly important thing for us, it was also about the community and helping the businesses to boom and to pump some life into this community.

“I have to thank the residents for allowing us to stage the event here, this is an amazing community and they’ve welcomed us with open arms.”

It also proved a memorable day of competition for Barnes, who triumphed in the Tag Senior Class.

In a hard-fought finale, Barnes seized his opportunity on the last of 18 laps to make his move on William Dunkley, giving his rival a slight nudge as they clashed around the second hairpin turn to snatch a lead he would not relinquish.

The incident also opened the door for Stephen Corrado to steal second place, with Dunkley, who made his grievances clear, being forced to settle for third.

There was no such joy for Barnes in the showpiece Shifter Stock class, as he could only muster a third-place finish, with Brandon Franks holding off the stiff challenge of Blake Horseman to take the honours.

Another thrilling race unfolded in the L206 Senior class as Bermudian Marc Tucker pulled off a sensational shock to pip Robert Bujdoso, a United States national champion, to victory.

Causing an upset: Bermudian Marc Tucker clinched victory in the L206 Senior Class, pipping Robert Bujdoso, a United States national champion, on the last lap

After seizing the lead from the start, Bujdoso led for 17 of the 18 laps only to be caught by Tucker on the sweeping sixth corner. Jason North, managed to fend off the challenge of Justin Lindo to claim the final place on the podium.

Another of the island’s drivers prevailed against international rivals when David Barbosa gave a masterclass in defensive driving to win the L206 Masters class.

Despite prolonged pressure from Canadian Rob Howden throughout the race, Barbosa held his nerve superbly to take the chequered flag, with Paul Rice, of the United States, in third.

One of the closest races came in the Cadets class with a four-way tussle for supremacy between Tanner Correia, Syah Pedro, Austin Frank and Hunter Borland.

Hard fought success: Tanner Correia held off the challenge of Syah Pedro to prevail in the Cadet Class

Just as Correia looked to be pulling away on the last lap, a late crash, with just three corners remaining, halted all four drivers, but Correia kept his composure to take the win ahead of Pedro, with Frank holding off Borland for third. Sadie Hocking, one of only two female competitors, finished fifth.

There was no less drama in the Tag Junior class as an early engine failure for American driver Cadence Presley and an unfortunate crash into the barriers for local competitor Lucas Flood, turned the four-kart race into a straight shoot-out between Roman Wilkinson and Jonah Moniz.

A bumper-to-bumper tussle ensued between the pair but Wilkinson ultimately came out on top to take the chequered flag narrowly ahead of his rival.

Title delight: Roman Wilkinson, who won the Tag Junior Class

After successfully meeting all pre-event expectations both on and off the track, the karting weekend is set to become an annual fixture, with Barnes ambitious to grow the race further.

“This has to return to being an annual event,” he said. “It is up to the corporations and the powers that be, but we want this to be even bigger and better.

“I haven’t seen many sporting events in Bermuda that will line the streets like this did and that is incredible for the Bermuda Karting Club.

“This was our stepping stone to show what we could do and I think we did exactly that. We want a bigger track, more international drivers and to just build from here.”

That sentiment was echoed by Canadian competitor Howden, who after experiencing the event first-hand believes it will only become more popular with a greater number of international drivers taking part.

“I’ve been to so many street circuit races around the world and this one here was just brilliant,” said Howden, who runs the runs the popular eKartingNews website.

“I was here in 2017 in Dockyard and there were a lot of people, but the vibe for this event was just crazy and a really good feel for the island.

“This has to be an annual event, you can see how well it has been supported and it will only get bigger, not only in terms of spectators but also the number of drivers.

“I’ve had people from all over Canada, the United States and England asking me about this race and wanting to get involved. People are seeing the excitement that it has created and they will want to come out and be a part of it in the future.”

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Published April 24, 2023 at 7:36 am (Updated April 24, 2023 at 5:06 pm)

Karting returns to the streets of Hamilton with a bang

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