Winner of the September 17 Savvy on the Bay September Safari, Leslie Alleyne, was full of praise for the route-setters – and the opposition – after crews met for the Prizegiving on Tuesday evening. Alleyne and navigator Chris O’Neal clocked up their third win in the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) 2023 Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship after coming from behind in a tight contest fought out across all but one of the island’s parishes.
They incurred 510 penalties in their Pod Store/Maxxis/Lucky Locks Suzuki Jimny, winning by a margin of 39 from Simon Parravicino and Andrew Croney, who finished second for the third time this year. Aboard the Realtors Ltd Jeep Wrangler, they had led after the morning route which carried crews from Quality Tyre, Lower Estate, St George, to the lunch stop at Rubis, Belleplaine, St Andrew, with George Mendes and Leslie Evanson (Suzuki Vitara) third and leading Class B.
A determined effort by Alleyne and O’Neal in the northern parishes in the afternoon, however, saw them win the second route by a comfortable margin, overhauling Parravicino and Croney to win overall. The experienced pairing of Ben Norris and Kirk Watkins, who had been fourth in the morning, moved up to complete the podium in their Jeep Rubicon, another 200 penalties behind. Mendes and Evanson suffered a transmission fluid leak in the afternoon, which dropped them to sixth at the finish, although Evanson still won the award for highest-placed female competitor.
Having trailed Mendes and Evanson in the morning, father and son Stephen and Ben Moore notched up their fourth Class B win of the year in the Moore & Moore Services/Maxxis Isuzu DMax. Third in Class B and seventh overall, continuing their steady progress up the leader board with their best result of the season, were Tyrone Chase and Sameisha Williams in the Executive Auto/E-Travel Services Suzuki Vitara.
Alleyne said: “The route setters were very savvy in their orchestration of the event and it was one of the most enjoyable we have done in quite some time. The composition of the route and how it weaved its way back and forth over a large section of Barbados without traversing many public roads, was quite unique and I could tell the amount of thought and effort that went into setting the event.“
The route, which covered some roads that had not been used in 20 or more years, had been set by Biddy Barber, Bridget Garity and Dean Springer, with additional input from John Pinto. The day ended at the Vaucluse Raceway in St Thomas, where a series of three Driver Challenges kept a sizeable crowd of spectators entertained. Alleyne enjoyed his best performance of the season so far, winning two of the three, but was pushed all the way by Parravicino, who won the third. Two new names joined the points table – there’s a separate Challenge Trophy to be won at the end of the season – as Chase and Chris King (Suzuki Jimny) each came third.
Alleyne added: “The Challenges at the end peaked your adrenaline to the point where we had the Jimny up on two wheels! We managed to do the fastest time in two of the three, all the while being hunted by Simon Parravicino in the Wrangler. As always, Brett Barber and his team did a great job.”
While Alleyne and O’Neal are multiple navigational rally champions, there is always room for error, as Alleyne highlighted: “There was a heavy usage of un-manned signs, many of which depicted the names of our past friends and family. I call it the ‘Rally of the Signs’, as the majority of penalties were accrued from missing the strategically placed signs along the route. We had zero timing and directional points in route one but missed four signs that cost us heavily! In route two we sharpened the focus and also had to overcome a 22-minute delay caused by a stricken competitor. This meant the pressure was on as we battled our way through St Peter and St Lucy, which made that the most enjoyable part of the competition for us!
“The other thing that was super encouraging to see was the Class B pair of George Mendes and Leslie Evanson leading the event up to their unfortunate mechanical issue, which caused them not to finish. They would likely have won had things gone differently! It is so wonderful to see the potential and enthusiasm from so many of our newer competitors, including the likes of Tyrone Chase, Sameisha Williams and Charles Clarke, who was a driver at just 16 years old!”
The final round of the Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship is on November 19.