Zane Maloney is Barbados’s first racing driver to compete in Europe, and the champion karter is already making his mark in junior single-seaters via a dominant rookie British Formula 4 season with Carlin.
Last month he equalled a British F4 record of four consecutive victories after winning all three races at Oulton Park, matching the benchmark set by his driver coach Jamie Caroline. Had a National Court decision decreed the two-lap Croft race shortened by rain not to count for points, it would have been a remarkable seven in a row.
With the Oulton Park triple came a ?10,000 cheque for claiming the Ford Triple Crown, and his achievement did not go unnoticed by the motorsport world – one of his congratulatory messages came from 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button.
Button already knows him from attending the Race of Champions event in Maloney?s native country of Barbados in 2014, where the pair raced each other during the event. It?s an experience which holds a significant impact on Maloney to this day.
?Jenson’s a great guy,? says Maloney. ?He’s probably the nicest guy I’ve met in motorsport up to date.
?Talking to him and learning from him changed my attitude a bit. It was definitely a very big positive him coming to Barbados, and I got to be on track with him as well so that was another big point in my career.?
It?s not the only F1 world champion Maloney has raced against either. When Lewis Hamilton attended the Barbados Festival of Speed in 2016, Maloney got to share the track with the five-time world champion which he was an ?even bigger? experience.
Maloney started watching F1 on television when Hamilton was embarking on his debut season with McLaren, and has followed his career with interest ever since.
?Hamilton was [my hero] when I was growing up watching from 2007, he was the driver who I wanted to win all the time. He was obviously doing great but he didn’t have the best car at McLaren [several years later] and I still stuck to my gut and supported him all the way, and I know he’s the best driver out there right now.?
Hamilton is a driver that has remained proud of his Grenadian roots, but there haven?t been any drivers from the neighbouring Caribbean island of Barbados that have made their mark on the international stage prior to Maloney.
Despite this, Maloney says that there is a big interest in motorsport in Barbados, with large crowds attending the Race of Champions and Barbados Festival of Speed events at Bushy Park, a track owned by Maloney?s father.
?There’s definitely a very big passion. When FoS and RoC come there’s 15,000 people just packed [in] because it’s not a big track. Everyone is side-by-side not really able to move, and they still find a way of cheering and going crazy.
?I think Barbados is known around the map now for motorsport because Hamilton, Button, everyone has come down and had a little go on the track, it’s filled with a lot of good names.?
Maloney?s F4 exploits are already generating big interest in Barbados. He gets coverage in all of the big national newspapers on weekends when he’s racing, and was voted Barbados’s Sportsperson of the Week an unprecedented two times in a row.
?The whole of Barbados loves motorsport and that’s good to have the support [from them]. I’m the only one so far to ever go away and succeed in Europe or the US so the whole island is backing me and I think that’s definitely a very big positive?.
Maloney has been exposed to motorsport from a very young age. He comes from a family of racers. His grandfather is Doug Maloney, who has competed regionally across five decades.
?My dad, my two uncles, two cousins and my grandad race so I was always at the track. My grandad still races so it’s definitely in the blood.
?I loved the noise and what I was watching so I asked my dad at three years old if I could try out a go-kart. I started racing when I was four in a 50cc kart so it started very young, I don’t think I could have started any earlier.
?Then I was just trying to progress through the ranks with my dad. He was a mechanic for me the first couple of years.?
Maloney raced karts locally during the first few years, winning the Barbados Karting Association championship multiple times.
In 2016, Maloney started to race karts internationally, competing in America?s top karting championship – the SKUSA SuperNationals – where he finished runner-up last year in the X30 Senior kart class.
Two years ago he also started racing in Europe, spending two years with Ricky Flynn Motorsport, the team which launched the career of McLaren F1 driver Lando Norris. Maloney finished third in the WSK Champions Cup and fourth in the CIK-FIA European championship in the OK class in 2018.
?That definitely helped me for this year because the level in Europe is really high, I definitely had a lot to learn,? Maloney says about his time at RFM.
Maloney continued to follow in Norris’s footsteps by picking British F4 for his first season in single-seaters. During 2018, he racked up mileage with Carlin during its one-year hiatus from the series, then signed with the team for this year.
Two podium finishes from his first race weekend at Brands Hatch showed promise, but he left the first round less than happy after missing out on a maiden victory following a last lap collision with Richardson Racing?s Luke Browning.
A difficult weekend at Donington Park followed, as Double R Racing?s Louis Foster started to build an early championship lead.
The third round at Thruxton was when Maloney?s fortunes turned around. After finishing a close second to Browning in the first race he claimed his first victory in race two, following that up with another win in the third race after fending off title rival Foster.
From there Maloney hasn’t looked back, winning both races ran at Croft, followed by his record-breaking Oulton Park weekend.
?I’m definitely getting more confident,? said Maloney during the Oulton Park round. ?I tested with Carlin quite a bit before the season, and have done half of the season with them.
?We are all getting good together, we’re all forming a connection, a bond and, whenever we are in the office looking at data and outside with the mechanics, it’s all good vibes so I think as a racing driver that definitely helps.
?A lot of it is physical but, more than physical is mental. Mental strength is a lot and I’m one 100% mentally prepared right now and everything is positive so hopefully we can continue this form.?
Like Norris, who continued his association with Carlin throughout his junior career, Maloney has set himself high ambitions to do the same: ??Hopefully this journey with Carlin can continue all the way to Formula 1?.
For now, Maloney?s target is to continue his winning run in British F4 and seal the title – he currently leads Foster by 55 points ahead of the next round at Snetterton.
?I just need to go out there and not think about anything but the job I need to do. The car has been amazing all year so, hopefully we have the same car and my head’s in it like it has been. If it is then we have a very good chance.?
2019: currently 1st in British F4 (7 wins)
2018: 2nd in SKUSA SuperNationals XXII – X30 Senior class, 3rd in WSK Champions Cup ? OK, 3rd in German Kart Championship – OK, 4th in CIK-FIA European championship ? OK, 8th in WSK Super Master Series ? OK, 19th in WSK Final Cup ? OK, 20th in South Garda Winter Cup ? OKJ
2017: 5th in CIK-FIA World Junior Championship – OK Junior, 7th in WSK Final Cup ? OKJ, 8th in WSK Super Master Series – OKJ, 8th in 46? Trofeo delle Industrie – OKJ, 11th in SKUSA SuperNationals XXI – X30 Junior class, 13th in CIK-FIA European Championship – OK Junior, 16th in 22? South Garda Winter Cup – OKJ
2016: 13th in SKUSA SuperNationals XX – Mini Swift, 29th in Trofeo delle Industrie – OKJ