Another successful year for Team Malta at Racalmuto

Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 10:42

Motorsport Team Malta has just come to the end of another successful year of activity in Sicily. The team, which was established 4 years ago has competed regularly in speed events in Sicily, starting off with hill climbs but more recently supporting the Sicilian Circuit Racing Championship at Racalmuto.

“We ventured into the unknown in 2008, but found out in no time at all that our boys could run with the very best”.  Team manager Joe Anastasi doesn’t mince his words. The team’s first foray in Sicily was to the beautiful Nebrodi, and more precisely the first hill climb at Cesaro. With the likes of Italian Champions Spoto, Scaramozzino,  and others participating, nobody was expecting too much, but at the end of the weekend the Malta boys filled the podium with young Zach Zammit winning overall with his Ralt Honda, Joshua Anastasi placing second with his JBR-3 Kawasaki, and Matthew Zammit fourth driving his Van Diemen Suzuki.

It was to open a new page in Malta’s motorsport history, a page that has turned into a book and a total success story. The success of Cesaro was followed by successive wins for Joshua Anastasi at Vittoria where Zach Zammit finished 2nd and Maltese drivers filled 6 of the top 10 places in the results, and then the hill climb at Adrano where again Joshua, with his home built JBR-3 was in a class of his own, against all expectations.

The plan for 2009 was for more of the same, but when UISP negotiated a circuit championship deal with the owners of the Racalmuto circuit, it was too good to just ignore. A couple of hill climbs were entered, these being Cesaro for the second time, and the Etna, and again Malta Team drivers came out on top. This time it was young Alan Curmi who took the honours on both occasions, but the circuit bug had bitten and with each event more and more locals were to be seen participating successfully at Racalmuto. “None of us ever thought we would end up doing the real thing” was the comment on most drivers lips.

The success on the hills was repeated on the track. At the very first round of the new Campionato Siciliano di Velocita in Pista Joshua Anastasi put his new JBR-4 Kawasaki car on pole position and made the fastest lap of the weekend. Others were equally successful, including Edward Calleja and David Anastasi who both thrilled the spectators in their closely contested races. Other good performances were those of Matthew, John, and Zach Zammit, Steve Zammit Cutajar, Patrick Gauci,  Johann Spiteri, and Alan Curmi. At the end of the championship Joshua Anastasi had scored enough points to win his class and become the first Maltese driver to win a motorsport championship overseas. The bug had really bitten.

And so to 2010. The programme for the new year was much the same. Cesaro for the 3rd year, and the circuit championship at Racalmuto. At Cesaro  Matthew Zammit, driving his 1000cc Van Diemen Suzuki, was on fine form, and made the fastest time of the day, beating Italian favorite Rosario Miano, with Joshua Anastasi  third and Alan Curmi fourth, but a technical loophole inserted in the organizing club’s new  regulations saw all the Maltese drivers eliminated from the results. This was a real disappointment for young Matthew who had driven magnificently and beaten everyone fair and square. “They hit us below the belt with this new ruling that we were not told about after we had given them our full support for three years” said an angry and disappointed Joe Anastasi. “I will not support that organizer again.”

So the team put all it’s future efforts into the circuit championship at Racalmuto which was in any case growing with every event. Alan Curmi was in fine form throughout the year with his newly acquired Radical PR6 Suzuki and was unbeatable in his class, also winning a number of events overall. On the other hand, Joshua Anastasi had a troubled season with numerous mechanical failures on his now supercharged JBR-4 Kawasaki. In the popular 1000cc Formula class Johann Spiteri (Jedi Suzuki) and Matthew Zammit were always very competitive, Johann taking a couple of well deserved wins, with Matthew always in the top 3. David Anastasi thrilled the crowds with his cheeky little Mini regularly beating the bigger engine BMWs, and Jamie Sammut and Patrick Gauci placed regularly in their respective formula classes, to make it another successful year. Alan Curmi capped it all by becoming the second Maltese champion in as many years.

With a couple of years experience, the circuit championship organizers at Racalmuto had really started to get their act together by the time the 2011 season got under way in April. Team Malta missed the first round but were present in force for round 2 in May where Johann Spiteri put his Jedi Suzuki on pole position and won his race, Patrick Gauci (Hawke Kawasaki) and Alan Curmi won their respective classes, and Joshua Anastasi put his car on pole with the fastest lap of the weekend, then went on to win his race too. This sort of performance was repeated in the September round with Johann and Joshua again winning the 2 formula races from pole, and Patrick, Alan and John Zammit winning their respective classes. David Anastasi again had the crowds on their feet, the little Honda engine Mini, now turbocharged, being more than a match for the bigger and more powerful Porsches and BMWs and Fabio Baldacchino, Simon Camilleri and Adam Bugeja also joined the team in Sicily for the first time that weekend, all performing well, with Adam a class winner on his debut in Sicily.

The last round in November saw just 3 Maltese entries, which were reduced to two when Joshua’s car encountered mechanical problems during qualifying. Johann Spiteri again put his Jedi on the front row, finishing an excellent second in both the very competitive 1000cc formula races, which this time were also attended by the works Gloria team from Turin. Alan Curmi drove excellently too to win his class again and place second overall in the “big” formula race.

It had been another successful season for Motorsport Team Malta, and when all the points were totted up we had 2 more Maltese drivers winning their respective championship classes, these being Patrick Gauci and Joshua Anastasi. Alan Curmi was a close second in his class despite only competing in six of the twelve races, and Johann Spiteri and Matthew Zammit placed 3rd and 5th respectively, simply because they too could not attend all the races.

With champions in 2009, 2010 and 2011, nobody can dispute the fact that Team Malta has left it’s mark in Sicily. The last word from team manager Joe Anastasi: “We are now a respected force, not just for pure speed, but for our friendliness, sportsmanship, and good behaviour. The Italian organizers are always please to welcome us and I am constantly getting so many invitations. Pity we can’t afford to do them all. I am proud of our boys, and looking forward to helping them out again in 2012. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our main sponsors Virtu Ferries, without whose help none of this would have been possible.”

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