Final preparations are being made island-wide for the longest event in the Barbados Rally Club’s Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship – the Sol Go Further June Safari.
The first of 25 crews will depart Sol Redman’s Village at 3 p.m. this Saturday for an 18-hour test of endurance, which will take competitors to some of the island’s most scenic locations.
Title sponsor of the BRC’s blue riband event, Rally Barbados, for the past six years, Sol first supported the June Safari in 2012, and has stepped up its commitment this year. Each crew receives a $100 fuel voucher, while the Redman’s Village, St. Thomas start will be the focal point of a major promotion for customers and motor sport fans, who will enjoy a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with some very specialised machinery from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
The successful running of the first June Rally in 1957 was the catalyst for the BRC’s formation in the following months. Run annually ever since — this is the 57th edition — the June Safari is the Caribbean’s oldest motor sport event with a continuous history.
Route-setters for this year are the 2012 winners, Leslie Alleyne and Chris O’Neal. While that victory was O’Neal’s first – his was the 69th name added to the roll of honour of the BRC’s oldest event — Alleyne racked up his fifth.
Fresh from the key role in results gathering for Sol Rally Barbados, Alleyne and O’Neal put the Isuzu D-Max to good use in the final preparations for the June Safari last weekend.
Alleyne said: “Despite a dry week, there is still mud out there – we managed to get stuck up, but not for long. On behalf of the MudDogs, I must say thank-you to our very generous sponsor, Sol, as well as the fuel vouchers for each competitor, a marvellous incentive, they have pulled out all the stops and planned a start at Sol Redman’s Village like none we’ve had before.”
Kirk King, sales and marketing manager of Sol (Barbados) Ltd, noted: “Sol is proud to reinforce the link between vehicle performance, as well as fuel economy, to its performance fuel offering, Sol Go Further. We are looking forward to hosting the MudDogs, whose larger-than-life vehicles represent the pinnacle of innovation, engineering and tenacity to overcome any obstacle.
“Sol reiterates its support of all forms of motor sport and excellence by its continued relationship with the Barbados Rally Club, not only with the immensely popular Sol Rally Barbados but also with the Club’s oldest event, a true test of endurance.”
The Safari is divided into four routes, with rest stops between each, to allow competitors to refresh themselves for the challenges ahead. The dinner stop will be at Chefette and Sol Speightstown, with two further breaks at around 11 p.m. and 4 a.m., before the finish at the Tikki Bar at Rockley, Christ Church.
Sixteen competitors will enjoy their first outing of the 2013 season, among them some of the island’s most experienced practitioners in the art of navigation. Reigning MudDogs champions Chris Armstrong and Wayne Clarke (Toyota Hilux) return after a lay-off.
While driver Armstrong was recovering from a back injury — Clarke’s five wins as navigator between 1991 and 2010 place him at the head of the roll of honour, jointly with Alleyne, who has won twice as driver, three times as navigator.
Armstrong has three victories to his credit, all claimed with Clarke alongside. In addition to those crews which have seen action in the season’s first two Safaris, Armstrong and Clarke will face strong competition from Ryan Corbin and Dustin Edwards (Toyota Hilux), who won the championship in 2010, Edwards as driver, Corbin as navigator. They switched roles thereafter, beaten to last year’s title by just 10 points.
Peter Bradshaw, winning driver in a tied result with brothers Ian and Robert Warren in the 2002 June Safari, navigates for Richard Whitehead (Suzuki Vitara), while his navigator of 11 years ago, Derek Gill, drives his Mitsubishi Pajero with Andrew Croney as navigator.
The prize-giving for the Sol Go Further June Safari will be held at the Barbados Clay Target Shooting Association Clubhouse at Searles, Christ Church, on July 1, once results are made final. (RB)