For the second time in as many events, new names have been added to the winners’ roster in the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship after Willie Hinds and Wayne Manning won the recent Chefette Summer Safari. There was more good news for Chris King, too: having claimed his first victory in July’s opening round, he and Warrick Eastmond won the Driver Challenge which brought last weekend’s Safari to a close.
Sunday’s event was set by 2018 Champion Navigator Andrew Croney and David Armstrong, the crew who finished third in last year’s standings and again in this year’s first Safari; after starting at Chefette Six Roads in St Philip at 7.30am, the crews tackled a single six-hour route, which finished at Golden Grove in the same parish, which was also the location of the Driver Challenge.
Campaigning the Black Bess Group Suzuki Samurai, Hinds and Manning incurred a total of 1853 penalties, giving them a winning margin of more than 800 on an event winning driver Hinds described as “one awesome rally”. Looking back on Sunday’s event, Hinds said: “I did not believe that Andy could have pulled off a one-route rally with such accuracy. The route was challenging with plenty tricks and numerous controls, with well-chosen average speeds to suit what he wanted us to do. Andy’s smart, so congrats to him on a well-plotted course and thanks to sponsor Chefette, the marshals and all involved for making it possible.”
Second-placed brothers Gary and George Mendes (G&G Sales and Service/Goodyear Tyres Daihatsu Rocky) also achieved their best-ever result, improving on a trio of third-place finishes in June and September 2014, when they also finished third in the year-end standings, and again in September 2015. Reigning Driver Challenge Champions Stephen Mayers and David Reece (Toyota Hilux) finished third on Sunday, a further 174 penalties adrift, matching their best result from last year’s June Safari.
It had not all been plain sailing for the winners, as Hinds explained: “We developed over-heating problems in the early stages of the route, as well as working on three cylinders for a few kilometres, but it was sheer determination that led us on to finish and to a great result. It was a complete team effort between Wayne and myself, making the correct calls at the appropriate time.”
Hinds and Manning have been a regular partnership on MudDogs events since the end of 2012, although they swapped roles at the start of the 2018 season, when Hinds took over the role of driver, handing Manning the navigator’s seat. Their best result before last weekend was second place in the 2016 March Safari, although they have another five top four finishes to their credit.
The event was also notable for the return to competition after a long break of Rally Club stalwart Biddy Barber, who was the driver for the new rising star in navigational rallying, her 13-year-old grandson Austin. Tackling the event in ‘Rally Granny’s venerable First Step Security Mitsubishi Pajero, they finished eighth overall and third in Class B, which was won by Abdullah and Bilal Patel in the Patels Equipment & Hardware/Aquarius Plumbing/Total Tools Mitsubishi L200.