Eight former winners of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) longest-running event will face a tough test in this weekend’s Sol June Safari as they tackle a 17-hour course leading them through all 11 of the island’s parishes.
Recent rains, bringing the island drought to an end, will add more spice to what promises to be an exciting contest.
Navigational rally veterans Leslie Alleyne and Wayne Clarke are the most successful of the winners listed among the total of 15 crews confirmed at last night’s briefing meeting at the Barbados Clay Target Shooting Association Club House.
They were tied on six wins until Alleyne edged ahead with a seventh victory last year. Chris O’Neal has won three times in the last four years as navigator for Alleyne, while Chris Armstrong has been the driver for four of Clarke’s six wins.
Alleyne’s seventh win came 19 years after his first, as navigator to Geoff Noel. He won again sitting with Trevor Manning in 2011, his other four victories coming in the driving seat, twice with wife Annalee, three times with O’Neal. Clarke’s six wins as navigator stretch from 1991 to 2013, the first two with Don Hunte, the other four with Armstrong.
Other winners on the list are 2004 champion driver Derek Gill, who won the June Safari as navigator for Peter Bradshaw in 2002 and as driver, with Kevin Yearwood, in 2005.
He is paired with 2006 champion navigator Andrew Croney. Robert Warren, champion navigator in 2009, returns to action with his brother Ian, with whom he tied for victory in 2002 with Gill and Bradshaw.
He won again in 2009 with Darrin White, the year they were also navigational champions.
Finally, Trevor Manning, who won in 2011, returns with his regular rally co-driver Derek Edwards. With 2010 champions Ryan Corbin and Dustin Edwards also back after a lay-off, there is a real chance a new name might be added to the 69-strong list of winners this year.
Manning’s father Roger and David Edwards, father to Derek and Dustin, are already on that list, having won three times between 1981 and 1988.
“The June”, as it is affectionately known, is the longest-established motor sport competition in the region with a continuous history.
This year’s Sol June Safari is the 60th running of the event and the second of four rounds of the 2016 Chefette MudDogs Safari & Safari Novice Championships. Following issues finding a replacement date for the postponed May Safari, there will be only four rounds this year.
Route-setters are MudDogs chairman Ricky Holder and Philip McConney, who has won The June twice as a driver, in 2004 with Kenny Croney, then in the 50th anniversary event in 2007, with Tyrone Moseley.
The Sol June Safari, the only event in the Chefette Championship to run through the night, will feature four routes, the first crew scheduled to leave the start at the Kendal Plantation Yard, St John, at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
The first of three stops is scheduled for Colleton Plantation at approximately 6 p.m., with the second route leading to the dinner halt at Shell Warrens around five hours later.
The third route will end at Sol Speightstown, St Peter at around 4 a.m. allowing the crews some respite before the fourth and final route, which runs in to the finish at the Vaucluse Raceway, St Thomas at about 9 a.m.
MudDogs chairman Ricky Holder said: “We have no driver challenges planned, as everything was so dry when the route was planned. . .even so, I think this will be an interesting weekend, because the weather will certainly play a part in the outcome.”
Only one round of the Chefette MudDogs Championship has been run, which was won by Alleyne and O’Neal in the Isuzu D-Max. They therefore lead the championship standings from Wayne Manning and Willie Hinds (Suzuki Samurai), with Ben Norris and Kirk Watkins (Ford Ranger) third.