Vieira retains championship title By Isaiah Chappelle
Guyana Chronicle
March 30, 2004

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DESPITE missing the first Group Three race, Mark Vieira still retained his championship title at the year’s first motor racing meet, The March Mania Meet, at the South Dakota Circuit, Timehri, Sunday.

Andrew King won that first race, with Andrew Morgan running in second in the Mazda RX7 that David Sommerbell drove when he burned up the track during the late 90s. Sanjay Sewsankar placed third in another Mazda RX7.

Vieira was at the gate when the race started and was prevented from entering. President of the Guyana Motor Racing & Sports Club, Ron Robinson, explained that the Clerk of Course had already handed over the race to the starter and the rolling start had begun, so Vieira could not be allowed to join.

“Just a knn (very, very little) and he would have made it,” Robinson said.

In the next race, King barely made it. He had to fix his broken second gear and the other racers were on the starting line. But he reached the gate before the rolling start had begun and could not take up his pole position. He could not even do his warm-up lap.

That race, however, proved to the one that gave the crowd their money’s worth.

Vieira also started at the back. They were lucky.

On the first turn, leader Rupie Shewjattan and Andrew Morgan kissed and Morgan spun, slowing up the race. Vieira and King passed the bunch, with Vieira in the lead that he held until the seventh, with just centimetres on his tail. They were so fast that they began to lap the field. In the eighth, King pulled up alongside Vieira on the backstretch, with Shewjattan sandwiched between them. Vieira was on the outside and King on the inside. Thus Vieira had a faster line into the gooseneck.

King told Chronicle Sport: “I tried to make the corner, but there wasn’t enough space.”

He spun and was out of the race, with Vieira winning, followed by Shewjattan and Sewsankar.

Vieira thus held the pole position for the third race, while King started at the back, even behind the cars that were not bona fide Group 3 machines. But the King overtook most of them before the first turn by the clubhouse and took the second slot on the back straight.

However, Vieira was too far in front and he easily took the chequered flag, despite hitting the sand coming out of the gooseneck in the fifth lap. King was second and Sewsankar third.

Vieira told Chronicle Sport: “We were lucky. Andrew was very fast. But the rain played against him. He’s a little more cautious in those conditions.”

With the two wins, Vieira copped the Group Three title. He also won two Group 2A races to take the overall title.

Driving another second generation Mazda RX7, Vieira claimed the first race of the day, with Keith Evelyn rolling in second and Peter Morgan third.

But Evelyn in a Honda Civic turned the tables in the second event for the group and Vieira settled for the second slot, with the third place going to John Joseph.

In the third race, Vieira bullied his way from the back to win the event. Shewjattan was at front, followed by Morgan and Evelyn.

The champion made his first moves for the top slot, bullying Evelyn into the gooseneck. Morgan took the lead out of the gooseneck, while Vieira moved to second on the clubhouse turn and eventually surged to the front at the backstretch.

Morgan and Vishal Sawh shared the glory in the two Group 2B races, with Sawh taking the first (the only competitor to finish the race), and Morgan the second.

In the Handicap event, Vieira developed braking problems and twice spun in the 25-lapper, bowing out with the second spill. Sewsankar won the race, with King placing second, after starting at the back of the bunch.

King said: “I would have needed two more laps to catch him.”

The Rookie events went first to Ricky Singh driving a Nissan Sunny and the second, Chet Singh in a Honda Integra.

Mark Meneze won the three Chappy races.