Three-time champion driver Leslie Alleyne and Chris O’Neal in an Isuzu D-Max won last Saturday’s opening round of the Barbados Rally Club’s Chefette MudDogs Safari and Safari Novice Championships.
In the absence of reigning champions Chris Armstrong and Wayne Clarke, who missed the event with driver Armstrong nursing a back injury, they faced a strong challenge from the experienced Audley and Jeremy Croney (Suzuki Vitara), who achieved the rare feat of incurring zero penalties on Route 1.
Alleyne and O’Neal fought back after the dinner stop. However, having started 25 penalty points behind, they collected just 293 penalties on Route 2, compared with 600 for the Croneys, giving them a winning margin of 282. Champion driver and navigator of 2007, Mark Western and Robin Hinds in a Nissan Patrol, finished third, a further 355 penalties adrift.
In the Chefette Novice Safari Championship, an unusually low entry of only three crews nevertheless produced some excitement. By the mid-point of the event, Damien Johnson/Corey Williams (Suzuki Samurai) and Joshua Plaza/Rashid Nakhuda (Suzuki Samurai) were tied in seventh place, equal on 425 penalties. The second route decided the matter, however, albeit by a narrow margin of 90 penalties in favour of Johnson and Williams.
Route 1 in the eastern parishes of the island started at Chefette Six Roads, St Philip, with the dinner stop at the Country View Bar, St George, with crews then heading west towards the finish at Chefette Warrens.
Route-setter Gary Mendes was given a fulsome vote of praise during the prize-giving at the Barbados Clay Target Shooting Association Club House at Searles, Christ Church on Monday.
In addition to the regular trophies for the top three overall and in the novice class, the trophy for highest-placed female went to Trina Griffith, navigating for Warrick Eastmond in his Daihatsu Feroza. Novice winners Johnson and Williams also won the first driver challenge, while the second went to John Pinto and Nicholas Branson in the Amsoil Suzuki Jimny – each crew won a pair of MudDogs hats.
Pinto and Branson also won one of two fun prizes for making the most errors on the BRC section in Route 1. Summarised results: Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship, Round 1 1st Leslie Alleyne/Chris O’Neal (Isuzu D-Max), 318 penalties 2nd Audley Croney/Jeremy Croney (Suzuki Vitara), 600pens 3rd Mark Western/Robin Hinds (GWS Nissan Patrol), 955pens 4th Adrian Sinckler/Andre Murrell (Suzuki Samurai), 1004pens 5th Gregory Dickenson/Rorie McConney (Toyota Hilux), 1030pens 6th Dominic Straker/Ben Norris (Land Rover Discovery), 1145pens 7th Wayne Manning/Willie Hinds (Suzuki Samurai), 1299pens 8th Damien Johnson/Corey Williams (Suzuki Samurai), 1353pens 9th Joshua Plaza/Rashid Nakhuda (Suzuki Samurai), 1443pens 10th Noel Edwards/Jason Downey (Nissan Patrol), 1525pens Chefette MudDogs Safari Novice Championship, Round 1 1st Johnson/Williams, 1353pens – 8th overall 2nd Plaza/Nakhuda, 1443pens – 9th overall 3rd Nicholas Pinto/Jamal Brathwaite (Jeep Grand Cherokee), 4225pens – 13th overall††