Reigning champion driver Leslie Alleyne and navigator Chris O’Neal begin their title defence this Sunday when the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) Chefette MudDogs Safari and Safari Novice Championships kick off for the 2014 season with the March Safari.
The pair won the opening round of last year’s championship and hope to repeat the feat this weekend in their Isuzu D-Max but it will not be an easy task. Fourteen crews were confirmed at last night’s briefing meeting at the Barbados Clay Target Shooting Association (BCTSA) Club House at Searles, Christ Church. The entry list is packed with experienced competitors and a host of former champions.
Leading the opposition will be Chris Armstrong and Wayne Clarke in the trusty Toyota Hilux which they drove to the champion driver and navigator titles in 2012. They were absent for much of last season, after Armstrong suffered a back injury, so will be keen to return right to the sharp end of the action.
The Suzuki Vitara of Audley and Jeremy Croney will be another vehicle to watch – they achieved the rare feat of incurring zero penalties on Route 1 of last year’s March Safari – while the return of 2010 champions Ryan Corbin and Dustin Edwards in the Toyota Hilux further racks up the interest.
Route-setters for the season-opener are Pete Bradshaw, who set route one, with Willie Hinds and Wayne Manning responsible for the Safari’s second half.
Looking forward to the start of the season, MudDogs Chairman Ricky Holder said: “I think everyone will enjoy our first event for the year. Route one’s setter says that his route is going to be simple and should be relatively easy; route two’s setter, however, was a little hush-hush on the details, so we are looking forward to his cleverness. Unfortunately, there will be no driver challenges, as finding water was a bit difficult, but the closest thing will be at Black Bess, St Peter, in route two.”
Among the novice crews, drivers Richard Hinkson (Suzuki Samurai) and Damien Johnson (Suzuki Samurai) were separated by only four points in third and fourth places at the end of last season, and both will be hoping for a clean start to the new season.
The first crew is scheduled to leave the start at Three Houses Park, St Philip at 8 a.m. on Sunday for route one, which is concentrated in the island’s eastern parishes, with the lunch stop at Sand Dunes Restaurant, St Andrew. Crews will then head north to
St Lucy before route two works its way back southwards to finish at The Mill, Canewood, St Michael, which will also be the location for the prize-giving next Tuesday (March 18) at 7 p.m. once results are made final.
Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship
& Chefette MudDogs Safari Novice Championship
Round 1 – March 16 – March Safari
1 Nicholas Lorde/Brett Barber (Land Rover Discovery)
2 Chris Armstrong/Wayne Clarke (Toyota Hilux)
3 John Pinto/Nicholas Branson (GMC Sonowa)
4 Audley Croney/Jeremy Croney (Suzuki Vitara)
5 Derek Gill/Andrew Croney (Mitsubishi Pajero)
6 Warrick Eastmond/Trina Griffith (Daihatsu Feroza)
9 Leslie Alleyne/Chris O’Neal (Isuzu D-Max)
10 George Mendes/Gary Mendes (Mitsubishi L200 Sportero)
11 Gregory Dickenson/Manre Murrell (Toyota Hilux)
12 Ryan Corbin/Dustin Edwards (Toyota Hilux)
13 Julian Kirton/Dominic Straker (Jeep Wrangler)
7 Simon Parravicino/Jonathan Millar (Suzuki Samurai)
8 Damien Johnson/Brandon Johnson (Suzuki Samurai)
14 Richard Hinkson/Dean Springer (Suzuki Samurai)