Two new names were added to the Roll of Honour of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) longest-running event last weekend when Michael Ward and Warrick Eastmond won the Sol June Safari.
After a hard-fought overnight contest through all 11 of the island’s parishes, Ward and Eastmond (Suzuki Jimny) prevailed by just 82 penalty points, the lowest margin of victory since 2011.
Winning driver Ward said: “This is one thing that I can now cross off my bucket list, as I have always hoped to win a June – to be among the big boys is definitely something to treasure.”
And his words rang true, as the crews that finished second and third had claimed a total of 20 victories in ‘The June’ between them, while Ward and Eastmond’s success at the weekend brings the number of winners to 71.
The winners finished with a total of 1432 penalties, with Chris Armstrong and six-time winner Wayne Clarke (Toyota Hilux) second on 1514, just 20 ahead of Leslie Alleyne – his seven victories are currently the record – and Chris O’Neal (Isuzu D-Max).
Ward added: “Warrick is a good navigator and has the demeanour to keep me calm – not an easy job sometimes! From the start at Kendal, it was difficult getting into the groove and we made some rookie mistakes, but we corrected that and set out to do our best. We dropped a bit on route two, not sure what caused this, as we felt that we were on route and time. Route three was all BRC navigation – fantastic, we really enjoyed that, although we slipped back again on route four, maybe we were a bit tired.
“The event was really well set – well done to route-setters Phillip McConney, Biddy Barber and Ricky Holder and a special acknowledgement to the marshals who stayed out through the night to make the event such a success.”
Ward and Eastmond won the first of the four routes, from Kendal Plantation to Colleton Plantation, with Ben Norris and Kirk Watkins second in a Ford Ranger, ahead of Ryan Corbin and Dustin Edwards in a Toyota Hilux. Victory on route two, which led the crews towards the dinner halt at Shell Warrens, briefly gave Armstrong and Clarke the lead, by just five penalty points. Wayne Manning and Willie Hinds (ZNA Rich) finished second, just three points adrift of the winners, with Alleyne and O’Neal third.
As the crews worked their way towards Sol Speightstown, St Peter, where the third break came at around 4 a.m., Nicholas Lorde and Brett Barber were the route winners in a Mitsubishi L200 Sportero, ahead of Ward/Eastmond and Norris/Watkins.
Twice a winner of The June, Derek Gill won the fourth route, which ran in to the finish at the Vaucluse Raceway, with Andrew Croney his navigator in a Mitsubishi Pajero; Corbin/Edwards and Alleyne/O’Neal were second and third.
MudDogs chairman Ricky Holder said: “Congratulations to Mike and Warrick. I am happy to see a different team as the winners, as it shows that Leslie and Chris are not unbeatable, so that shows that there is hope for the others. I must thank our sponsor Sol for its continued support, the competitors for their determination and particularly our marshals for their ongoing commitment, especially on this event, where they had to be awake for the entire night.”