The competitors for the Shelbury Construction 65th Anniversary June Safari this weekend will mark this important milestone in the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) history with the toughest test in this year’s Chefette BRC MudDogs Championship.
Just two weeks after the 90th running of the world-famous Le Mans 24 Hours in France, competitors
will face their own island type of round-the-clock challenge but rooted in the Club’s early days of navigational rallying, which started with the June Rally of 1957, rather than racing.
From the start at Chefette, Wildey, St Michael at 2 p.m. on Saturday (June 25) to the finish in St Lucy at roughly the same hour on Sunday, crews will face four routes, set by regular off-road competitor Gary Mendes, with one-hour rest stops between each. And the route is only one part of the challenge.
With 10 former winners of ‘The June’ on the 24-strong entry list confirmed at last night’s (Tuesday) briefing meeting at the BCTSA Clubhouse, Searles, Christ Church, competition will be hot.
Each of the first three routes will last around six hours; from Wildey, crews will head across the southern parishes into the evening and the first rest halt at 8 p.m. at Rubis Kirtons, St Philip; the second route, the only one completely under cover of darkness, will carry them north-west to the second rest halt at around 3 a.m. at Rubis Holetown, with the third route ending further north at Rubis Benthams, St Lucy at 10 a.m.
The final route will be shorter, at just three hours, and will not require a 4×4 vehicle; the event will finish at around 2 p.m. at Lotus Bar, Bromefield, St Lucy.
Leslie Alleyne sits atop ‘The June’s Roll of Honour, which lists 74 winning drivers and navigators, and is one of only five to have won from both seats; his two wins as navigator and seven as driver put him on the cusp of a record 10th victory – if achieved this weekend in their POD Store/Maxxis Suzuki Jimny, it would also bring his navigator Chris O’Neal level on six wins with Wayne Clarke, who currently lies second to Alleyne.
Clarke was the first to claim five wins as navigator in 2010, then another in 2013; the first two came with Don Hunte, the rest with Chris Armstrong in a Toyota Hilux, who has won four times.
Derek Gill has also won as both navigator (2002 with Peter Bradshaw) and driver (’05 with Kevin Yearwood); this year he is navigator for Trevor Manning (Hilux), who is also a previous winner of The June, sharing Alleyne’s second win as navigator in 2011.
The entry also includes the two most recent winning crews: Ben Norris and navigator Kirk Watkins, who won in 2019, this year entered in a Jeep Rubicon, and 2020 winner Chris King, who has also switched vehicles, now driving a Suzuki Jimny. His first win was navigator Warrick Eastmond’s second, following his 2016 success with Michael Ward.
Among crews turning out to help mark the Club’s 65th Anniversary are Roger Hill and Geoffrey Goddard (Hilux), who finished second to Philip McConney and Tyrone Moseley in the 50th Anniversary June Safari in 2007.
Also entered from other disciplines are Edward Corbin, fresh from his Modified 1 victory in Sol Rally Barbados, teamed with Paul Bourne in another Hilux, and former Bushy Park circuit racers Stuart Knaggs and Monty Farnum sharing a Mitsubishi L200.
Ricky Holder, Chairman of the BRC MudDogs Committee, said: “I am very pleased to see a good turn-out for the 65th Anniversary and that a number of BRC members are supporting us to mark this milestone. Hopefully we can encourage more of this.”
‘The June’, as it is fondly known, is the longest-established motor sport event in the region with a continuous history, interrupted only in 2021 when prevailing COVID-19 protocols prevented driver and navigator sitting in a vehicle together; weeks after the inaugural event was run, the organising committee called the participants together – there had been a 60-strong entry in 1957 – and agreed to form the BRC, which is now the oldest organisation in the island devoted to a sport not played with a ball and the oldest motor sport club in the region still bearing its original name. (RB)