NORRIS, WATKINS JOIN ‘THE JUNE’ ROLL OF HONOUR
Patels win Class B in Shelbury Construction June Safari
Two new names were added to the Roll of Honour of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) longest-running event at the weekend (June 29/30) when Ben Norris and Kirk Watkins won the Shelbury Construction June Safari. After a close overnight contest through all but one of the island’s parishes, Norris and Watkins (Toyota Land Cruiser) prevailed by 100 penalty points, bringing the number of winners to 73 since the event was first run in June 1957.
Winning driver Norris said: “We’re both glad ‘The Curse’ has finally been broken. We have each won events, but not recently and never as a pair. So, to have our first as ‘The June’ made it all the more rewarding.” And their victory is well-deserved, the crew having finished on the podium three times in the past five years, in 2014 with Watkins driving a Hilux, in 2015 with Norris at the wheel of a Ford Ranger, then last year’s second place, with Norris again the driver.
They finished the overnight event with 638 penalties, 100 fewer than multiple winners Leslie Alleyne and Chris O'Neal in the Simpson Motors/Shell Spirax/Shell Rimula/Maxxis Isuzu D-Max, with Stephen Mayers and David Reece third in a Toyota Hilux, another 150 penalties adrift. Mayers also won the event’s only Driver Challenge, run at Edgcumbe Plantation during the first route, beating Norris by four seconds.
The route-setters were Jason Downey, Noel Edwards and Philip McConney, himself twice a winner of ‘The June’; divided into three routes, covering around 180 kilometres and passing through all the parishes except St James, it drew praise from Norris: “The route was enjoyable, particularly the effort made to follow the old railway line, which we both found interesting and ended up producing some fun tricks. We both have a preference for night events, especially The June, where its always great to see the marshals and other competitors putting in the extra effort to go through til morning. Our only complaint is that a fourth route would have upped the ante even more!”
Chasing a 10th and sixth win respectively, Alleyne and O’Neal won the first route, which started from the CGI Tower in Warrens at 3.00pm on Saturday, passing through St Thomas, then heading south-east through St Joseph and St John into St Philip. Norris and Watkins were second, just 14 penalties behind, with David Armstrong and reigning Champion Navigator Andrew Croney (Toyota Hilux) third. The early leaders increased their advantage to 50 penalties during the second route, which followed the dinner stop at Chefette Six Roads, hugging the east coast, along which the railway ran, winding its way up to St Andrew. With Norris and Watkins still second, Mayers and Reece split the two leading crews on the second route to move in to third place overall, as Armstrong and Croney slipped back to fourth.
After the midnight stop at Chefette Speightstown, the final route covered the north of the island - St Peter, St Lucy and St Andrew – before heading back through St Thomas to the daybreak finish at the CGI Tower. Having placed 10th in route two, Dean Springer and Bridget Garity nailed route three in the Eastern Veterinary Clinic Ford Ranger, winning by 30 penalties, but second place was good enough for Norris and Watkins to overhaul Alleyne and O’Neal, who finished the route eighth . . . and a little bemused, as Alleyne explains: “We made a decision to go to a control, because there seemed to be something fishy with the route - as it turned out, this was off-route! And we were the only crew to go to it! Our timing was not making sense to us, but I can’t explain it! All that aside, a very deserving win for Ben and Kirk. We are very happy for them.”
While three crews started in Class B, Andrew Mallalieu and son Alexander (Toyota Hilux) only entered for the daylight first route, while last year’s class-winners Damien Johnson and Justin Lynch retired their Suzuki Samurai with mechanical problems. Last-minute entrants Yosuf and Bilal Patel (Aquarius Faucets/ToolCraft/Goodyear Tyres Mitsubishi L200) were therefore the winners, working their way steadily up the overall order in the route results as the event progressed.
MudDogs Chairman Ricky Holder said: “Thanks to all of our marshals - and the competing crews - as the all-night event demands a lot of stamina and staying power; well done to all involved. Special congratulations to Ben and Kirk for finally winning our premier event and a big thank-you to Shelbury Construction for stepping in as title sponsor, and to those other businesses who provided prizes, KG Enterprises, Perkins & Sons and Salt Café.”
Shelbury Construction June Safari, June 29/30
Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship – round 2
1st Ben Norris/Kirk Watkins (Toyota Land Cruiser), 638 penalties
2nd Leslie Alleyne/Chris O'Neal (Simpson Motors/Shell Spirax/Shell Rimula/Maxxis Isuzu D-Max), 738pens
3rd Stephen Mayers/David Reece (Toyota Hilux), 888pens
4th David Armstrong/Andrew Croney (Toyota Hilux), 922pens
5th Christopher King/Warrick Eastmond (Nissan Frontier), 984pens
6th Dean Springer/Bridget Garity (Eastern Veterinary Clinic Ford Ranger), 1310pens
7th Gary Mendes/George Mendes (G&G Sales and Service Daihatsu Rocky), 1312pens
8th Chris Armstrong/Wayne Clarke (Toyota Hilux), 1330pens
9th Yosuf Patel/Bilal Patel (Aquarius Faucets/ToolCraft/Goodyear Tyres Mitsubishi L200), 1353pens
10th Willie Hinds/Wayne Manning (Black Bess Group Suzuki Samurai), 1462pens
Route 1: 1st Alleyne/O’Neal, 200pens; 2nd Norris/Watkins, 214pens; 3rd D Armstrong/Croney, 282pens; 4th Mayers/Reece, 322pens; 5th Springer/Garity, 340pens; etc
Route 2: 1st Alleyne/O’Neal, 128pens; 2nd Mayers/Reece, 156pens; 3rd Norris/Watkins, 164pens; 4th C Armstrong/Clarke, 196pens; 5th King/Eastmond, 256pens; etc
Route 3: 1st Springer/Garity, 230pens; 2nd Norris/Watkins, 260pens; 3rd Mendes/Mendes, 260pens; 4th D Armstrong/Croney, 338pens; 5th King/Eastmond, 350pens; etc
1st Y Patel/B Patel, 1353pens; no other finishers
Route 1: 1st Y Patel/B Patel, 545pens – 10th overall; 2nd Damien Johnson/Justin Lynch (Suzuki Samurai), 1620pens
Route 2: 1st Y Patel/B Patel, 400pens – 8th o/a
Route 3: 1st Y Patel/B Patel, 408pens – 6th o/a
For media information only. No regulatory value.