Derek Gill and Andrew Croney in a Mitsubishi Pajero will lead off the pro field in Saturday’s April Safari, round two of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) Chefette MudDogs Safari and Safari Novice Championships.
Runners-up in last year’s championship, they started the season well with victory in last month’s opening round. That win has given them a sound early-season lead over reigning champions Leslie Alleyne and Chris O’Neal, who finished sixth in the Isuzu D-Max. Second in March were Damien and Brandon Johnson (Suzuki Samurai), with Audley and Jeremy Croney third, the father and son outfit replacing their Suzuki Vitara with a Mitsubishi L200 this weekend.
First away on Saturday will be the March Safari’s winning novice crew, Derek Pinto and Adam Hunte, in the Toyota Hilux, who will face Richard Hinkson and Kevin-Jon Manning (Suzuki Samurai) and rookies Alvin Leon and Nathan John, also Samurai-mounted.
A total of 16 crews were confirmed at last night’s briefing meeting at the Barbados Clay Target Shooting Association club house at Searles, Christ Church. Former champions Chris Armstrong and Wayne Clarke are making their first appearance of the season which, along with a couple of driver or navigator changes, brings to 35 the number of participants in MudDogs events for the season so far.
Route-setters for the April Safari are George and Gary Mendes, who finished fourth in the season’s opening event four weeks ago, having finished third in the Chefette Safari Championship in 2014. The first crew will leave the start at Chefette Speightstown, St Peter, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, with the dinner Stop at Chefette Six Roads, St Philip at around 6 p.m. and the finish at Chefette Warrens at approximately 11.30 p.m.
Route one is the longer of the two, at approximately 95 kilometres, and will include three driver challenges: the first will be at Maynards, St Peter, the second by the Muffler Centre, Cane Garden, St Thomas, while the third will start opposite Atlantic Marketing in The Belle, St Michael.
After the dinner stop, route two will be approximately 72kms, with a driver challenge included in the distance at an undeclared location in this route. Crews will be required to use a number of navigational methods – straight-line by map, BRC, Tulip as you see it, 90-degree tulip, straight-line as you see it – and will need to be on their toes.
Saturday’s event is the second of five which qualify for the 2015 Championship, with two separate MudFests also on the MudDogs calendar. As before, crews are required to compete in four out of the five safaris to be eligible for year-end championship points. If they compete in all five safaris, then their best four scores will count. First place on each safari earns 60 points, second place earns 58, decreasing by two points per position down to 30th, which earns two points. All positions after 30th will earn one point.