Leslie Alleyne and Chris O’Neal (Isuzu D-Max) claimed their third victory in the five rounds of this year’s Barbados Rally Club’s MudDogs Safari Championship last Sunday. But it was not enough to unseat the Champions-elect for 2012, Chris Armstrong and Wayne Clarke.
Armstrong and Mork Clarke, who won the season’s other two events, were the route-setters for this year’s finale, which was described by competitors as a “fair and fun event”. Clarke, who retains the Champion Navigator title he won for the first time last year, is the only competitor to have won the BRC’s June Rally (now Safari) five times, and has a reputation for setting very tricky events.
As Armstrong explained, however, the plan was different this time round: “The aim was to set a relatively easy rally, to encourage novices especially – on a scale of one to 10, the event was a five for difficulty. It was very dry, and we were hoping for rain to make it a bit more interesting. We made the driver challenges longer, and more enjoyable – as a driver myself, I know that drivers like longer challenges.”
According to MudDogs chairman Warren Gollop, the plan worked.
“While following the event, it was very apparent that the novices stood a good chance of upsetting the apple cart, as the pros were clearly over-thinking Mork’s intentions, and not taking the instructions at face value. So much so that novice team Josh Plaza and Rashid Nakhuda were leading everyone in route two, with zero penalties, until very late in the day,” he said.
Alleyne and O’Neal claimed the lowest penalties on both routes, a total of 425, to enjoy a winning margin of 284 points. Audley and Jeremy Croney (Suzuki Vitara) finished second, 116 points clear of third-placed Mark Western and Robin Hinds (Nissan Patrol), who might have fared better but for slipping from second place on route one to ninth on route two.
After three fifth places, it was the Croneys best result of the season, and Jeremy noted: “The first route was a bit challenging, but this was not a typical Mork rally, not as intense as usual.” Hinds added: “The first route was challenging and very tricky, you really had to have your thinking cap on.”
In the Chefette MudDogs Safari Novice Championship, Damien Johnson and Daniel Christie (Suzuki Samurai) emerged the winners for the second consecutive event. After placing second on route one, they were the comfortable winners of route two, consolidating their positions as runners-up respectively in the Novice Driver and Navigator Championships.
Navigating for the second-placed Johnny Pinto (Suzuki Jimny), Nick Branson claimed the Novice Navigator title – they were an impressive sixth overall on route one – while third place for Dominic Straker and Matthew Ward (Nissan Patrol) was sufficient to give Straker the Novice Driver title.
The MudDogs Championship winners will join with the BRC’s other disciplines for the annual prize-giving at Sugar Ultra Lounge, within the complex that was formerly the Ship Inn, St Lawrence Gap, at 7 p.m. tomorrow. (RB)