Leslie Alleyne and Chris O’Neal re-wrote the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) record books at the weekend with victory in the Sol 60th Anniversary June Safari, despite a scare on the final route which made them “pleasantly surprised to have pulled it off”.
Alleyne’s eighth win moves him two ahead of fellow ‘June’ veteran Wayne Clarke; O’Neal brings the list of four-time winners to six, while the partnership has set a new record for the highest number of wins in the shortest time frame, four in six years.
Campaigning their familiar Maxxis Isuzu D-Max, Alleyne and O’Neal finished the overnight event with 990 penalties, giving them a winning margin of 198 over Jean-Marc Cozier and Andrew Croney (Honda Pioneer), with Ryan Corbin and Dustin Edwards (Toyota Hilux) third, another 254 penalties behind.
But it might have been very different, says Alleyne. “We worked hard throughout the event but thought we had thrown it away in route 4 when we doubled back to check an area where we were a bit skeptical about a few of the diagrams in case we had missed a control. This put us very late in a route that was going to be won with very low penalties. We drove hard and caught back our timing within about 30 minutes and fortunately only incurred 56 penalties. This could have ended a lot worse.”
Damien Johnson and Justin Lynch (Suzuki Samurai) finished ninth overall and top novice crew, while 2008 winners of ‘The June’ and MudDogs Champions Barry Gale and Neil Barnard (Toyota Hilux) came out on top of the eight crews attracted to contest the final route on Sunday morning. Many had not tackled a navigational event for some years, the field including many well-known motor sports figures, including John Corbin, Andrew Jones, Stephen Mayers and David Reece.
Two of Alleyne’s eight wins have been claimed as navigator, for Geoff Noel in 1996, then Trevor Manning in 2011, the rest as a driver, two with wife AnnaLee navigating, the most recent four with O’Neal. There are now six on the list of four-time winners, O’Neal joining Chris Armstrong, Sean Gill, Don Hunte, Andrew Mallalieu and Richard Rose, while Alleyne and O’Neal’s four wins in five years beat Gill and Mallalieu’s four in nine.
Celebrating six decades of motor sports organisation, which started with the first June Rally in 1957, the weekend’s event used the same start and finish points – Applewhaites and Vaucluse, both in St Thomas – between which the crews tackled around 150 miles. There were four routes, set by Sean Gill, Robin Hinds, Clive Howell and Paul Marshall.
Alleyne was full of praise for the route-setters. “What made this rally even more interesting was that each route was set by a different person, so you never had the chance to build a rhythm and understand a route-setter. Thanks to all four for doing an outstanding job, but I would especially like to mention Paul Marshall for our favourite route – it was practically flawless. We always love night rallying and routes 2 and 3 did not disappoint. MudDogs chairman Ricky Holder and his team did a marvelous job in pulling all the resources together, and thanks to Anna-Lee and Treesa for staying up all night to provide results within 30 minutes of the finish. Finally, thanks to our sponsors for their invaluable help in making all of this happen.”
Chris Armstrong and Wayne Clarke (Toyota Hilux) led after Route 1, from Applewhaites to the dinner halt at Sol Speightstown, St Peter; the leading crews were closely matched, with a spread of just 184 penalties from first to fifth. Cozier and Croney were second, last year’s winners Michael Ward and Warrick Eastmond ( Suzuki Jimny) third, with Alleyne and O’Neal fourth, followed by Ryan Corbin and Dustin Edwards (Toyota Hilux).
Victory in route 2, which carried crews south to Sol Redmans, St Thomas, moved Alleyne/O’Neal into the lead, 128 penalties ahead of Armstrong and Clarke, an advantage they consolidated in route 3, which ended at Sol Six Roads, St Philip, at around daybreak on Sunday. By now Cozier/Croney had moved up to second place, 254 penalties behind, with Corbin/Edwards third. The final route had been set to attract crews with less specialised off-road vehicles than those used by many of the MudDogs regulars and headed north west to the Vaucluse Raceway (VRW); no fewer than six crews cleaned the route, incurring no penalties.