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J'cans buckle down for Radical test

Published:Sunday | October 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM
David Summerbell-Contributed PHOTOS
Peter Rae-File
Doug Gore

Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator

Though they are yet to arrive in the island, the two Radical cars which will make their Jamaican debut at Dover Raceway, St Ann, on Heroes Day, have been creating a buzz in local racing camps.

"Since the announcement, it is the first time that I got calls from Chris Campbell and David Summerbell in one day, talking about the Radicals. One with concerns and the other without," a smiling Doug Gore told Automotives.

Chances of the local drivers dominating what is expected to be an action-packed event will depend on how their cars are prepared for the meet. The job of a race mechanic can exact a physical and mental toll, as the job requires hard work and discipline. By all reports, this is what some of the mechanics at Dover have been demonstrating.

"Almost everybody is looking forward to this clash between David (Summerbell) and Doug (Gore). So, we have been busy doing some modification to the Mitsubishi, a street car, which we rebuilt into a race car. We have been putting in the hard work, because a simple mistake can cost you come race time," said Garnett Johnson, the man who prepares Summerbell's car.

The 33-year-old Johnson, who began working on motor vehicles at nine years old, stressed that Summerbell's car is already fast and the team is now making sure that there are no problems and it is ready to "beat the life" out of the Audi. A very knowledgeable mechanic, Johnson has been to the Jamaica Germany Automotive School. At one stage, he was the local mechanic for the Peugeot dealer in Jamaica. He currently works with the local Mitsubishi dealer.

Unbeatable Audi

David Bell, Doug Gore's crew chief, has proposed to bet that the Audi will be unbeatable on Heroes Day. "As we saw in Barbados, the Radical cars, neck to neck on the flat, will be faster, but they cannot manage the hilly terrain of the Dover Circuit," argued Bell.

He said that preparing the Audi for the meet is not just putting in gas and tyres. The team has been working over the past four weeks, completing the preparation.

"We had to send for parts in Germany to prevent any failing or shortcomings on race day. We did a thorough check, pulling down the car flat," said Bell, who is currently the director of marine for the Sandals Group of Companies.

He was trained in Germany and Canada, where he lived for five years. He has been a mechanic for the past 35 years.

"I believe there will be enough excitement to grip the crowd," said Bell.

While he has every confidence in Gore, Bell also has great respect and admiration for Summerbell, whom he regards as a multitalented driver.

"The Mitsubishi is fast, but I think the Audi will beat it," Bell said confidently.

Silburn Clarke has been charged with the responsibility of ensuring that Peter Rae's RX 7 Mazda takes the chequered flag. "There is no doubt that we have the third-fastest car at Dover. Right now I am rebuilding the engine. The computer was not working 100 per cent and six weeks ago we sent it back to Australia, where it was built. When that is sorted out, then the car should be very powerful," Clarke warned.

Despite operating on a shoestring budget, Clarke is hopeful that the 'Zoom Zoom'-piloted RX 7 Mazda will make an impact.

A past student of Knox College, Clarke has been involved in motorsport at all levels. In 1968 he put together his first race car, which he raced at Vernamfield. He was born in Trinidad, but has lived in Jamaica for 47 years.