Team Barbados hangs on to win title

The boat from races on Sunday.
The boat from races on Sunday. Special to the Herald

The plan for Team Barbados was to start the season strong and build a cushion in case anything went wrong down the road.

The strategy proved flawless when Team Barbados won its third straight P1 Superstock USA season championship, edging Miss GEICO Sunday at the Sarasota Grand Prix Festival.

“We are USA national champions, triple champions and that is very nice,” said Team Barbados driver James Norvill. “We built the points earlier in the season when it mattered and came here with the intention to get four thirds and we got the win. You don’t want to be racing hard on the last day of racing for the season. We came here the way we wanted to and did what we had to do.”

Team Barbados with Norvill and Charlie Parsons-Young finished second overall for the weekend’s five races. It had three third-place finishes and one first-place on Saturday and was in fourth place in Sunday’s only race. The team has won three USA championships and one in the United Kingdom.

“This feels really awesome. The water was a little bumpy today, choppier in than yesterday (Saturday). It was nice,” Norvill said. “I was not surprised GEICO would be on our tail. They are tough competitors and we have been worrying about them all season.”

This was GEICO’s first season competing in the P1 Superstock and it finished second overall. It had a couple of disappointing runs earlier in the season that made it difficult to pick up lost ground.

“We won four out of the five races over the weekend,” GEICO driver Craig Wilson said. “I think it was good for GEICO. They got a lot of exposure and we are excited about going into next year and hopefully finishing better. As you can see we built a huge following and it’s great for the company and great for the sport.”

GEICO with Wilson and Micah Paul finished second in one of the four races on Saturday, which hurt its chances on the final day. Team Barbados had to finish at least in sixth place to get the championship.

“You can’t win them all, but next year we will,” Wilson said. “When the season started I thought we would come in first because I always think like that. I am a racer and everything I do in racing and in life I want to accomplish my goals and be the best possible.”

Scott Colton, managing member for the Miss GEICO offshore race team, credited a lot of the success this weekend to moving Wilson into the driver’s seat.

“Craig has won two world championships in the P1 Class overseas, so he is a very experienced,” Colton said. “He has been a racer all this life. His father was a racer and just has a great mentality. He is very calm, but a tenacious competitor.”

GEICO won the highly anticipated matchup with Alex And Ani in the unlimited invitational category. The have been running first and second respectively in two race series this year and are fierce competitors.

“Sarasota is one of our favorite tracks. It’s a tremendous place and we never take anything lightly when we come here,” driver Marc Granet said. “You have to work very, very hard on this course to perform well. It’s hot and there are a lot of turns and the water can bite you if you are not paying attention.”

Alex And Ani shut down on the 14th lap (out of 20) because of mechanical difficulties with GEICO about a minute ahead.

“Even after they exited the race we wanted to make sure we kept a good, fast pace,” Granet said, “More than anything this was a big step for our team from an engine perspective. It was very hot out there and high water temperatures, which are challenging to the engines. It all helps us get ready for the world championships coming up.”

Serafino Cazzani of Alex And Ani said his boat had a steering issue that created a dangerous situation, which forced them to shut things down.

“Herb (Stotler) couldn’t steer the boat because things were locking up and it would rock and he couldn’t counter steer out of the wave, which can be dangerous,” Cazzani said. “We will get them (GEICO) eventually.”