Reigning champion driver Chris Armstrong and navigator Wayne Clarke begin their title defence this Saturday when the Barbados Rally Club’s Chefette MudDogs Safari and Safari Novice Championships rev off for the 2013 season with the March Safari.
The pair won the opening round of last year’s championship in their trusty Toyota Hilux and hope to repeat the feat at the weekend but they will face some stiff opposition, including a number of previous champions from the past decade.
Just 14 crews were confirmed for the March Safari at Tuesday’s briefing meeting at the Barbados Clay Target Shooting Association Club House at Searles, Christ Church, but out-going MudDogs Chairman Warren Gollop believes there may be some additions before the weekend.
†”I’m hopeful of a couple more entries, as people are waiting on vehicles to be repaired in time. While we are a little short on quantity, there is no shortage of quality in this entry,” he said.
Leading the attack on Armstrong and double champion navigator Clarke will be Leslie Alleyne and Chris O’Neal in the Simpson Motors/Rimula Lubricants/Spirax Lubricants/Sol Isuzu D-Max. Alleyne has won the champion driver title three times in the past seven years – his most recent triumph came in 2011 – and can always be counted on to present a strong challenge, as can the champion driver and navigator of 2007, Mark Western and Robin Hinds in the Kar Parts Store/GWS Nissan Patrol.
Other experienced crews in the mix are Audley and Jeremy Croney (Arthur’s Electrical/CC Motorsports Suzuki Vitara) and Noel Edwards/Jason Downey (Esso Barbarees Hill/GWS Nissan Patrol), while the champion novice driver of last year, Dominic Straker, is now promoted to the Pro Class, where he will drive a Land Rover Discovery with Ben Norris, the 2010 champion novice driver switching seats to become navigator.
Among the novice crews, last year’s second-placed driver Damien Johnson (Western Union Suzuki Samurai) now has Corey Williams as navigator, while Nicholas Pinto (Jeep Grand Cherokee) is partnered by Jamal Brathwaite, who has the unique distinction of having won both the highest-placed novice driver and navigator titles in the seasons before the separate novice championship was launched.
The first crew is scheduled to leave the start at Chefette Six Roads, St Philip at 3.31p.m. for route one in the eastern parishes of the island; the dinner stop will be at the Country View Bar, St George, with crews then heading west towards the finish at Chefette Warrens, at approximately 11.30p.m. The route-setter is Gary Mendes.
The prize-giving for the BRC MudDogs March Safari will be held at the BCTSA Club House on March 18 once results are made final. (RB)