Garcia wins thrilling duel for Caribbean Junior Karting title

Thirteen-year-old Naomi Garcia from Trinidad & Tobago is the new Caribbean Junior Karting Champion. Throughout three days and 12 hard-fought races at the Palisadoes International Raceway in Jamaica at the weekend (July 21-23), she fought a thrilling duel with local racer Zander Williams, the outcome uncertain until the final race, which Garcia won by a margin of just eight-hundredths of a second and, with it, the title by 11 points.

  They could hardly have been more evenly matched: while Garcia claimed two pole positions to Williams’s one, the 17-year-old Jamaican won six races to her five, and each claimed five further podium finishes and five fastest laps. Garcia was the top points-scorer on Friday, Williams on Saturday and they reached Sunday’s Final with Garcia ahead by just five points; whichever of them won the race would claim the crown.

  An elated Garcia said: “It was the best feeling! After all the hard work to have my goals become reality. I am really proud of myself; proud to be a girl, proud to be a Trinidadian. I am so grateful for the support of my family and friends, my dad especially who has always guided me. Also my coaches and mechanics, especially Juan Valderrama, who was in Jamaica with me. And a big thank you to all those who watched and cheered me on. The victory was sweet.” Williams added: "I am kinda disappointed that I didn't win, but Naomi was a fierce competitor and it was a great weekend of racing. I want to thank my team and everyone for all the support and I know this is just a part of racing."

  With five podium finishes apiece, Jamaica’s Matthew Warmington and Eddie Upstone finished third and fifth, sandwiching T&T’s Aran Sharma, who had been the weekend’s only other race-winner, also claiming a further podium finish. Jamaica’s Luke Spencer and Justin Donaldson had also finished on the podium, while Raizer Stoute finished seventh overall and highest of the Barbadian trio, with a brace of fifth places in the Finals on Saturday and Sunday his best results.

  Funded by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile’s (FIA) Sport Grant Programme and administered by the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF), the Caribbean Junior Karting Academy Trophy (CJKAT) was first run in 2019 at Bushy Park Barbados. After being delayed by the pandemic, the second CJKAT ran last November, again at Bushy Park, with this year’s event hosted by the Jamaica Karting Association (JKA) at its 1.2-kilometre purpose-built circuit, which sits alongside Kingston Harbour.

  Each day of racing was run to the same format: Free Practice, 15 minutes of Qualifying, then three nine-lap Qualifying Heats and a 13-lap Final, with everyone racing identical Vortex-engined Exprit OK-Junior karts. The first grid is based on Qualifying, the second on Qualifying reversed (only the top 10 switch) and the third on each driver's best lap time from the first two events, with the fastest on pole. Points scored so far settle the grid for the Final. Garcia, who had finished fifth overall and top scorer aged 14 and under in CJKAT22, set the pace, fastest in Friday’s two practice sessions and in Qualifying, six-tenths up on Williams, with Warmington and Daniel Ullyett of Barbados also within 1sec.

  Williams and Garcia were first and second throughout Race 1, the winning margin just over 2secs, but there was a lively battle for third place in which Warmington eventually prevailed over Sharma and Ullyett. Sharma made smooth progress in the first three laps of the reversed grid Race 2, to assume a lead he was not to lose; there was still some shuffling to be done behind, however, Warmington and Williams coming through to complete the podium, with Garcia fourth, collecting her first fastest lap in the way.

  Her first win of the weekend and a second fastest lap followed in Race 3, although Warmington led until half distance, before finishing second, with Williams, Sharma and Ullyett completing the top five. Garcia repeated the win and fastest lap double in the higher points-scoring Final building up an 8secs lead while a tussle developed in the closing stages between Sharma, Warmington and Williams, the first two nabbing the podium places. Williams was disqualified after his left side pod came off during the race which, combined with a 5sec penalty for Donaldson, promoted Ullyett to fourth, which would prove to be his best result of a shortened weekend.

  With 83 points, Garcia led Warmington by 15 after Day 1, with Sharma another point adrift, Williams fourth (51pts) and Ullyett fifth (47pts). While Garcia and Upstone topped one practice session each, Williams was fastest in Qualifying, ahead of Upstone and Warmington, with Garcia fourth. And Williams carried that pace through the entire day, winning all four races, claiming three out of four fastest laps (Garcia did so in the Final) and leading every lap of the day, apart from the first few in the reverse grid race.

  The maximum 96 points catapulted Williams into the lead by three points, 147 to 144; facing some tyre issues, Garcia finished third once and second twice, including in the higher-scoring Final, but also ended up in the sand early in Race 3, recording her lowest result of the weekend, 10th. Warmington was now third in the standings (107pts) and Sharma fourth (99pts), while podium finishes for Spencer and Upstone had moved them up the order, the latter climbing from 12th to sixth. There was less positive news for the highest-placed Barbadian Ullyett, who would take no further part in the weekend after suffering a few aches and pains following an accident in Saturday’s Final.

  The Championship lead changed three times in a thrilling final day. Fastest in both practice sessions, Garcia narrowed the gap to two points by topping the Qualifying time sheets, then retook the lead – by two points – with victory in Race 1 ahead Williams while Upstone claimed fastest lap in third place. The tables were turned in Race 2: with a win over Garcia, Williams regained the CJKAT lead by the same two points, with Warmington completing the podium this time, having ceded second place to Garcia on the last lap.

  Upstone led the early stages of Race 3, while a lively battle was fought behind, involving Garcia, Spencer, Williams, Sharma and Warmington. Garcia passed Upstone three laps from home, but Williams could not find a way past, all three crossing the line within six-tenths. So Garcia led again, this time by five points and, with a six-point differential between first and second place in the Final, either could still win.

  The top three remained static on the lap chart for the Final, Garcia ahead of Williams and Upstone, but that does not reflect the effort made, particularly by the championship rivals, who were separated by 0.086s at the flag; Williams set the fastest lap on the penultimate lap of the race in his efforts to catch and pass Garcia.


Caribbean Junior Karting Academy Trophy 2023, Day 1 (July 21)

Qualifying: Pole – Naomi Garcia (T&T), 55.876s; 2nd Zander Williams (JAM), + 0.607s; 3rd Matthew Warmington (JAM), + 0.621s; 4th Daniel Ullyett (BAR), + 0.950s; 5th Justin Donaldson (JAM), + 1.177s; 6th Aran Sharma (T&T), + 1.179s; 7th Luke Spencer (JAM), + 1.289s; 8th Raizer Stoute (BAR), + 1.631s; 9th Nathan Sewell (JAM), + 2.161s; 10th Adam Mustapha (T&T), + 3.309s; 11th Donche Blackman (BAR), + 3.896s; 12th Edward Upstone (JAM), + 5.680s. DQ: Connor-Patrick Payne (JAM) Race 1 (9 laps): 1st Williams, 9m 17.356s; 2nd Garcia, + 0.212s; 3rd Warmington, + 0.501s; 4th Sharma, + 1.704s; 5th Ullyett, + 2.897s; 6th Donaldson, + 6.842s; 7th Spencer, + 7.103s; 8th Stoute, + 10.034s; 9th Sewell, + 20.436s; 10th Blackman, + 22.523s; 11th Payne, + 22.612s; 12th Mustapha, + 26.827s. DNF: Upstone. Fastest lap: Warmington, 56.335s, 76.684kmh/47.65mph Race 2 (9 laps): 1st Sharma, 10m 13.663s; 2nd Warmington, + 0.871s; 3rd Williams, + 1.599s; 4th Garcia, + 1.982s; 5th Spencer, + 5.666s; 6th Ullyett, + 9.490s; 7th Upstone, + 16.221s; 8th Blackman, + 18.940s; 9th Mustapha, + 31.036s; 10th Payne, + 48.934s. DNF: Stoute, Sewell, Donaldson. Fastest lap: Garcia, 56.580s, 76.352kmh/47.44mph Race 3 (9 laps): 1st Garcia, 9m 29.971s; 2nd Warmington, + 1.750s; 3rd Williams, + 3.931s; 4th Sharma, + 4.350s; 5th Ullyett, + 6.089s; 6th Donaldson, + 8.125s; 7th Spencer, + 10.447s; 8th Blackman, + 25.761s; 9th Mustapha, + 30.568s; 10th Upstone, + 1 lap; 11th Payne, + 1 lap; 12th Stoute, + 1 lap. DNF: Sewell. Fastest lap: Garcia, 55.884s, 77.303kmh/48.03mph Final (12 laps): 1st Garcia, 12m 44.112s; 2nd Sharma, + 8.140s; 3rd Warmington, + 8.345s; 4th Ullyett, + 18.823s; 5th Donaldson, + 21.139s; 6th Blackman, + 30.047s; 7th Spencer, n/a; 8th Payne, + 34.226s; 9th Stoute, + 34.809s; 10th Mustapha, + 38.215s; 11th Sewell, + 4 laps. DNF: Upstone. DQ: Williams. Fastest lap: Garcia, 55.936s, 77.231kmh/47.99mph Points after one round: 1st Garcia, 83 points; 2nd Warmington, 68pts; 3rd Sharma, 67pts; 4th Williams, 51pts; 5th Ullyett, 47pts; 6th Spencer, 39pts; 7th Donaldson, 35pts; 8th Blackman 30pts; 9th Payne 23pts; = 10th Mustapha & Stoute, 22pts; 12th Upstone, 19pts; 13th Sewell, 16pts


Caribbean Junior Karting Academy Trophy 2023, Day 2 (July 22)

Qualifying: Pole - Williams, 55.727s; 2nd Upstone, + 0.073s; 3rd Donaldson, + 0.141s; 4th Garcia, + 0.175s; 5th Spencer, + 0.395s; 6th Sharma, + 0.852s; 7th Ullyett, + 0.951s; 8th Warmington, + 1.134s; 9th Sewell, + 1.250s; 10th Stoute, + 1.297s; 11th Payne, + 1.825s; 12th Blackman, + 1.960s; 13th Mustapha, + 2.080 Race 1 (9 laps): 1st Williams, 8m 26.077s; 2nd Upstone, + 1.704s; 3rd Garcia, + 4.457s; 4th Spencer, + 5.150s; 5th Ullyett, + 8.372s; 6th Warmington, + 8.870s; 7th Sharma, + 11.070s; 8th Stoute, + 16.718s; 9th Sewell, + 21.123s; 10th Blackman, + 22.002s; 11th Mustapha, + 28.704s; 12th Donaldson, + 1 lap. DNS: Payne. Fastest lap: Williams, 55.818s, 77.394kmh/48.09mph Race 2 (9 laps): 1st Williams, 9m 28.079s; 2nd Garcia, + 3.338s; 3rd Spencer, + 3.550s; 4th Warmington, + 6.101s; 5th Upstone, + 9.262s; 6th Stoute, + 11.235s; 7th Sewell, + 12.478s; 8th Payne, + 13.628s; 9th Sharma, + 15.184s; 10th Mustapha, + 17.204s. DNF: Blackman, Ullyett, Donaldson. Fastest lap: Williams, 55.895s, 77.288kmh/48.02mph Race 3 (9 laps): 1st Williams, 9m 39.807s; 2nd Spencer, + 2.786s; 3rd Donaldson, + 7.528s; 4th Upstone, + 7.961s; 5th Mustapha, + 20.190s; 6th Blackman, + 20.647s; 7th Stoute, + 42.677s; 8th Payne, + 1 lap; 9th Sewell, + 1 lap; 10th Garcia, + 1 lap. DNF: Sharma. DNS: Ullyett, Warmington. Fastest lap: Williams, 55.998s, 77.146kmh/47.94mph Final (13 laps): 1st Williams, 12m 17.291s; 2nd Garcia, + 0.319s; 3rd Upstone, + 0.792s; 4th Warmington, + 9.204s; 5th Stoute, + 26.034s; 6th Sharma, + 29.970s; 7th, Blackman, + 53.863s; 8th Sewell, + 62.965s; 9th Mustapha, + 1 lap. DNF: Payne, Ullyett, Spencer. DNS: Donaldson. Fastest lap: Garcia, 56.096s, 77.011kmh/47.85mph Points after two rounds: 1st Williams, 147 points; 2nd Garcia, 144pts; 3rd Warmington, 107pts; 4th Sharma, 99pts; 5th Spencer, 84pts; 6th Upstone, 80pts; 7th Ullyett, 70pts; 8th Blackman, 61pts; 9th Donaldson, 60pts; 10th Stoute, 57pts; 11th Mustapha, 51pts; 12th Sewell, 48pts; 13th Payne, 46pts


Caribbean Junior Karting Academy Trophy 2023, Day 3 (July 23)

Qualifying: Pole - Garcia, + 55.286s; 2nd Williams, + 0.287s; 3rd Upstone, + 0.305s; 4th Warmington, + 0.440s; 5th Spencer, + 0.618s; 6th Sharma, + 0.983s; 7th Donaldson, + 1.074s; 8th Stoute, + 1.543s; 9th Sewell, + 1.690s; 10th Payne, + 2.120s; 11th Mustapha, + 2.270s; 12th Blackman, + 2.433s. DNQ: Ullyett Race 1 (9 laps): 1st Garcia, 9m 34.321s; 2nd Williams, + 0.561s; 3rd Upstone, + 2.539s; 4th Spencer, + 4.712s; 5th Sharma, + 9.023s; 6th Sewell, + 17.163s; 7th Blackman, + 22.893s; 8th Stoute, + 23.190s. DNF: Mustapha, Payne, Donaldson, Warmington. Fastest lap: Upstone, 55.612s, 77.681kmh/48.27mph Race 2 (11 laps): 1st Williams, 11m 26.295s; 2nd Garcia, + 1.632s; 3rd Warmington, + 2.586s; 4th Sharma, + 5.485s; 5th Donaldson, + 7.375s; 6th Sewell, n/a; 7th Blackman, + 15.123s; 8th Stoute, + 15.656s; 9th Mustapha, + 15.946s; 10th Payne, + 2 laps. DNF: Spencer, Upstone. Fastest lap: Williams, 55.653s, 77.624kmh/48.23mph Race 3 (9 laps): 1st Garcia, 9m 40.558s; 2nd Upstone, + 0.397s; 3rd Williams, + 0.626s; 4th Spencer, + 1.943s; 5th Sharma, + 6.173s; 6th Warmington, + 6.709s; 7th Stoute, + 8.903s; 8th Donaldson, + 10.929s; 9th Blackman, + 18.329s; 10th Mustapha, + 1 lap. DNF: Payne. DNS: Sewell. Fastest lap: Garcia, 55.562s, 77.751kmh/48.31mph Final (13 laps): 1st Garcia, 13m 36.808s; 2nd Williams, + 0.086s; 3rd Upstone, + 2.198s; 4th Warmington, + 7.225s; 5th Stoute, + 21.449s; 6th Sewell, + 21.726s; 7th, Donaldson, + 26.427s; 8th Mustapha, + 33.481s. DNF: Spencer, Sharma, Payne, Blackman. Fastest lap: Williams, 55.653s, 77.624kmh/48.23mph


Final points: 1st Naomi Garcia (T&T), 236pts; 2nd Zander Williams (JAM), 225pts; 3rd Matthew Warmington (JAM), 151pts; 4th Aran Sharma (T&T), 138pts; 5th Eddie Upstone (JAM), 135pts; 5th Luke Spencer (JAM), 121pts; 7th Raizer Stoute (BAR), 95pts; 8th Justin Donaldson (JAM), 94pts; 9th Donche Blackman (BAR), 88pts; 10th Nathan Sewell (JAM), 83pts; 11th Adam Mustafa (T&T), 79pts; 12th Daniel Ullyett (BAR), 70pts; 13th Connor-Patrick Payne (T&T), 67pts