NEW SEASON BRINGS A NEW FORMAT FOR MUDDOGS

The Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship is getting a facelift for 2023 in a move to broaden the appeal of the navigational discipline on which the Club was founded. Saturday’s (March 11) Super-S MudDogs March Safari, centred on the Vaucluse Raceway (VRW) in St Thomas, will be the first of a new format which, if successful, will be rolled out for future events this year.

Fifteen crews are listed on the running order published after last night’s (Tuesday) Briefing Meeting, including many unfamiliar names. MudDogs Chairman Ricky Holder is delighted: “It is the best entry for the opening round for a while and I’m very pleased to see some newcomers; hopefully they will have a good time and continue to compete. I must thank KG Enterprises for their sponsorship through the Super-S lubricants brand and hope they will be rewarded with a good spectator turnout at Vaucluse, where there will be action on and off during the day, along with music and refreshments.”

Route-setters for the season’s first Safari are Leslie Alleyne and his regular navigator Chris O’Neal, who have respectively won 11 and seven MudDogs titles since the Championship was launched in 2004, most recently last year. Of the new direction being proposed for MudDogs events, Alleyne explained: “We conducted a survey over Christmas that gave everyone, including outsiders who have strong interest in competing, a chance to give us feedback on the way forward.

This revealed three key factors that those who responded felt needed urgent attention: a change in format to a more balanced and appealing structure; a much more aggressive PR and social media strategy; and to create more of a social atmosphere. In setting this event we have tried to tackle all three factors in a serious way.

In many ways, this new approach harks back to the 1950s, when navigational rallies were core to the early days of the Rally Club and the ‘socials’ were an important part of every event. The June Rally of 1957 was the event which prompted the foundation of the Club and it remains the longest-running event in Caribbean motor sport with a continuous history, interrupted only by the coronavirus pandemic in 2021.

Saturday’s event will start inside VRW at 2.00pm with the first of three Driver Challenges, then crews will return late afternoon for two further Challenges, with the finish back there at around 9.15pm; unlike previous events, which have been divided into two or more routes, the Super-S MudDogs March Safari will be one long route with a few breaks in between. Challenge 2 will be at 5.10pm and Challenge 3 at 5.40pm, with a short rest between.

Alleyne talked through how things will work: “Challenge 1 will follow our normal format, with one vehicle at a time, using berms and the east spectator area. For the other two Challenges, it will be a bit different, with two vehicles starting at the same time on a short tight rallycross-type setup using the bridge and underpass plus some grassy areas and a hill side on the east spectator area – Challenge 3 will run in the reverse direction of Challenge 2.”

The results of the Super-S March Safari will be declared at the Prizegiving which starts at 7.00pm next Tuesday evening (March 14) at the Barbados Clay Target Shooting Association (BCTSA) Club House at Searles, Christ Church.

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