Ten-time Champion of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) Navigational Championship, Leslie Alleyne, is excited to return to action on Sunday (March 13) in the BRC March Safari, opening round of the 2022 Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship. After the coronavirus pandemic struck in early 2020, that year’s calendar was reduced to three events, with none at all run during 2021.
Sunday’s event, therefore, comes 16 months since crews last saw action, and they are keen to get started. Alleyne is conscious of the difficult times that everyone has faced: “It has been a very challenging couple of years enduring the effects of the pandemic and sport has certainly been one area that has suffered the longest! It is great that the sporting fraternity in Barbados gets a chance to return to some kind of normalcy this year. We are grateful to have all gotten through the journey safely so far and, equally, we are all keen to get back to the recreation that we love with a renewed enthusiasm.“
Alleyne won his first Champion Driver’s title in 2006 and is acknowledged as a master of the discipline, with 26 Safari victories to his credit – a 48 per cent success rate – and 18 further podium finishes. He returns with long-term Navigator Chris O’Neal, but with a new competition vehicle, as he explains: “We had to make some adjustments at the start of the pandemic, which included selling my faithful Isuzu D-Max. We have now gone with a smaller Suzuki Jimny, that has a few upgrades that I was able to install during the various lockdowns. This year we have a new sponsor in POD Store (printing on demand) and I must thank my long-time friend, Darrin White, for his company’s support. Maxxis Tyres has also returned this year and in these tough times I am so appreciative of their continued support. We are very excited for the season and hope that we can do them proud!”
Route-setters are Shaquille Jemmott and Shanica Toppin, with assistance from Jason Downey and Yosuf Patel. The first crew will leave the start at Six Roads, St Philip, at 8.01am on Sunday, heading out on a route of roughly 120 kilometres; there will be a stop-over at the Armag Vegetable Depot at around 11.45am, with the finish at Colleton Plantation at approximately 5.30pm. The results will be declared at the Prizegiving on Tuesday evening (March 15) at the Barbados Clay Target Shooting Association (BCTSA) Club House at Searles, Christ Church.
Alleyne and O’Neal are among 12 crews confirmed at last night’s (Tuesday) Briefing Meeting to tackle Sunday’s event, including arguably the youngest Driver and Navigator combination since the Navigational Championship started in 2004, Kristina Pinto and Austin Barber in the First Step Security/First Step Maintenance Suzuki Jimny, both from the latest generation of well-established motor sport families.
All in all, an encouraging start to the season, which has delighted MudDogs Chairman Ricky Holder: “I am looking forward to this year and having our events back, as the competitors were getting a little anxious. Hopefully, we will get some more rain on Saturday to make the event more enjoyable for the competitors.”