Triple champions Leslie Alleyne and Chris O’Neal (Isuzu D-Max) made certain of winning an unprecedented fourth Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship with victory on last Sunday’s Nassco November Safari.
The fourth and final round of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) off-road navigational championship started and finished at the Vaucluse Raceway (VRW) in St Thomas, where spectators turned out in their numbers to enjoy the action.
Going into the final round, once dropped scores had been taken into account, Alleyne and O’Neal were tied on 120 points with Michael Ward and Warrick Eastmond (Suzuki Jimny), which meant that it was a straight fight to the finish at the weekend. Unfortunately, Ward damaged a drive shaft during the morning, finishing eighth in Route One, then was unable to re-start after the lunch halt.
Alleyne and O’Neal incurred a total of 1178 penalties, winning by a margin of 187 from Ben Norris and Kirk Watkins (Ford Ranger), who maintained their strong record since pairing up in 2014; they have now finished second or third four times each in the 10 events they have contested . . . but luck played a part, too.
The driver challenge at the finish started at the base of a gully, twisting through some very uneven terrain within Vaucluse, then through a mud pit and up a near-vertical embankment. Norris broke a steering link near the start of the course but, fortunately for them, they had already passed the final check point, so their overall result was unaffected.
Making their debut as a crew in the unusual Honda Pioneer, Jean-Marc Cozier and Andrew Croney finished third, another 239 penalties adrift, with brothers Robert and Ian Warren (Land Rover Defender) fourth, ahead of Dean Springer and Bridget Garity in the Ford Ranger. Springer won the VRW driver challenge and was full of excitement at Wednesday’s prize-giving at the VRW Clubhouse to discover that he and Garity had also won route two, their first such success.
Samuel Manning and Ruben Carillo (Toyota Hilux) also achieved their first win, in the Chefette MudDogs Safari Novice Championship. In only their second event, they shared the route wins with Richard Hinkson and Kevin-Jon Manning (Suzuki Samurai), but took the overall victory by 1,848 penalties.
Route-setters Willie Hinds and Wayne Manning came in for high praise from winner Alleyne.
“It was a fantastic Safari. Willie and Wayne clearly put a massive effort into this . . . and it paid off. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the event, which ran seamlessly from start to finish. There were two regularity tests in Route One – the first was at Vaucluse where we had to maintain an average speed of 36kmh. After making a small error, the pace was hot to try and recover the time. The track had recently been oiled and this had our Isuzu sliding like Micey in the Evo a few years back.
“Throughout the day, the tricks were well thought out and certainly caused us to make our share of silly mistakes. Despite all the rain, the event was quite comfortable to drive. There was only one area of bad mud and ruts in St Lucy, which caused us to stick up, until we got a much-appreciated tow from Nicholas Lorde.”
Nassco, which was represented at the prize-giving by Roger Hill, was also hailed for its dedicated support through the years, along with the enthusiastic and committed body of marshals, without whom the events could not happen.