photo by Corey Reece/Image Vault, Summer Safari winners Chris King and Warrick Eastmond captured in action, Winning driver Chris King receives his award at Tuesday’s Prizegiving from route-setter Kristina Pinto
photo by Corey Reece/Image Vault, Summer Safari winners Chris King and Warrick Eastmond captured in action, Winning driver Chris King receives his award at Tuesday’s Prizegiving from route-setter Kristina Pinto

Crews happy to be back in action after long wait

Competitors in the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship finally headed back off-road at the weekend (July 25/26) after a nine-month wait . . . and a new name was added to the Roll of Honour of the Club’s longest-running event, fondly known as ‘The June’. Although the coronavirus pandemic pushed it back into July, the Shelbury Construction Summer Safari still represented the 64th running of the Club’s founding event.

After a close overnight contest through all but one of the island’s parishes, Chris King and Warrick Eastmond emerged the winners in their Nissan Frontier: King’s victory was his first since joining the Championship two years ago – he brings the number of winners of ‘The June’ to 74 since the event was first run in June 1957 – while Eastmond’s was his second, repeating his 2016 success with Mike Ward.

They finished the overnight event with 482 penalties, 60 fewer than Dean Springer and Bridget Garity, who claimed their best result yet in the Eastern Veterinary Clinic Ford Ranger; David Armstrong and Andrew Croney (Toyota Hilux) cornered the final podium position with 582 penalties, just four fewer than last year’s winners of ‘The June’, Ben Norris and Kirk Watkins (Toyota Land Cruiser). Newcomers Shaquille Jemmott and Shanica Toppin won Class B in their Suzuki Escudo, finishing seventh overall.

King said: “My first win! And huge congratulations to Warrick on chalking up his second 'June' win. I think all the competitors were glad just to be back in competition after such a long hiatus! I’m very grateful for the commitment and hard-work of the organising committee, route-setters Kristina and Kai, the marshals and sponsor Shelbury Construction, who despite all of the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic were able to put together a very enjoyable and challenging event.”

Winning driver King had first competed around 30 years ago, as navigator for Tyrone Moseley, sitting with him until the late 1990s: “I drifted out of the sport when the focus was more on all-stage events and took a long break, returning in 2018 at ‘The June’. I’m enjoying my new role in the driver's seat; we were plagued with mechanical issues in the first two events, but thanks to the support of the Mud-Dogs community were able to keep going and improve our results over the past 18 months.”

King and Eastmond won the first route, which started from Structural Systems in Cane Garden, St Thomas, at 2.00pm on Saturday, and headed into the northern parishes. Springer and Garity were second, just 32 penalties behind, with Gary and George Mendes (G&G Sales and Service/Goodyear Tyres Daihatsu Rocky) third. After a rough first route, Willie Hinds and Wayne Manning (Black Bess Group Suzuki Samurai) won route two, which headed across the island to Colleton in St John after the supper break at Chefette Speightstown, St Peter. Despite slipping to sixth on the middle route, King and Eastmond retained the overall lead, albeit with the margin cut to just 20 points from Springer and Garity, with Armstrong and Croney moving up to third at the expense of the Mendes brothers, who succumbed to vehicle issues.

Following a second rest break shortly after midnight, the final route looped around to finish back at Colleton, with King and Eastmond once again the route-winners, this time beating Norris and Watkins by 20 points. Armstrong and Croney were third, having done just enough to deprive Norris and Watkins of third overall.

In Class B, the first two routes were won by the Suzuki Vitara of former ‘June’ winner Mike Ward with third-generation novice navigator 12-year-old Austin Barber making his debut, following in the wheeltracks of ‘Rally Granny’ Biddy Barber and father Brett, long-term supporters of navigational events. The plan had been to complete only the first two routes and they were lying fourth overall at the midnight halt. Fellow novices Shaquille Jemmott and Shanica Toppin (Suzuki Escudo) made a steady start, fourth of the Class B runners on route one, but gained experience overnight; second on route two, winners of route three, they claimed their debut Class B win with 1002 penalties, beating John Pinto and Adam Hunte (Structural Systems GMC Sonoma) by 146 points.

Following the Prizegiving last evening (Tuesday) at the Barbados Clay Target Shooting Association (BCTSA) Club House at Searles, Christ Church, MudDogs Chairman Ricky Holder said: “After what has been a difficult few months, it was great to finally get the Championship started, even if there was no rain, which was a bit disappointing.

“Well done to everyone who got through the night and for obeying our Covid-19 protocols. Congratulations to Chris on his first win in ‘The June’, even if it was in July, and Warrick for his second. Thanks to our route-setters Kristina Pinto and Kai Prescod and the marshals for their stamina through the long hours. A big thanks to Shelbury Construction for being our title sponsor for the second year and commiserations to Chris Armstrong who had mechanical problems over the weekend. Finally thank-you to KG Enterprises and Morgan’s Fish House, who also provided prizes.”

Shelbury Construction Summer Safari (‘The June’) - July 25/26
Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship - round 1

1st Chris King/Warrick Eastmond (Nissan Frontier), 482 penalties
2nd Dean Springer/Bridget Garity (Eastern Veterinary Clinic Ford Ranger), 542pens
3rd David Armstrong/Andrew Croney (Toyota Hilux), 582pens
4th Ben Norris/Kirk Watkins (Toyota Land Cruiser), 586pens
5th Stephen Mayers/David Reece (Toyota Hilux), 838pens
6th Willie Hinds/Wayne Manning (Black Bess Group Suzuki Samurai), 866pens
7th Shaquille Jemmott/Shanica Toppin (Suzuki Escudo), 1002pens
8th John Pinto/Adam Hunte (Structural Systems GMC Sonoma), 1148pens
9th Abdullah Patel/Bilal Patel (Patels Equipment & Hardware/NiLight/Total Tools Mitsubishi L200), 1388pens
10th Chris Armstrong/Wayne Clarke (Toyota Hilux), 1998pens
Route 1: 1st King/Eastmond, 182pens; 2nd Springer/Garity, 214pens; 3rd Gary Mendes/George Mendes (G&G Sales and Service/Goodyear Tyres Daihatsu Rocky), 258pens; 4th Michael Ward/Austin Barber (Suzuki Vitara), 258pens; 5th D Armstrong/Croney, 266pens; 6th Norris/Watkins, 288pens; etc
Route 2: 1st Hinds/Manning, 160pens; 2nd Norris/Watkins, 174pens; 3rd D Armstrong/Croney,
184pens; 4th Springer/Garity, 184pens; 5th King/Eastmond, 196pens; 6th Ward/Barber, 198pens; etc
Route 3: 1st King/Eastmond, 104pens; 2nd Norris/Watkins, 124pens; 3rd D Armstrong/Croney,
132pens; 4th Springer/Garity, 144pens; 5th Jemmott/Toppin, 170pens; 6th Hinds/Manning, 266pens; etc

Class B
1st Jemmott/Toppin, 1002pens
2nd Pinto/Hunte, 1148pens
3rd A Patel/B Patel, 1388pens
Route 1: 1st Ward/Barber, 258pens; 2nd A Patel/B Patel, 438pens; 3rd Pinto/Hunte, 588pens; etc
Route 2: 1st Ward/Barber, 198pens; 2nd Jemmott/Toppin, 224pens; 3rd Pinto/Hunte, 260pens; etc
Route 3: 1st Jemmott/Toppin, 170pens; 2nd Pinto/Hunte, 300pens; 3rd A Patel/B Patel, 590pens

Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship: Round 1 - Jul 25/26, Shelbury Construction Summer Safari (‘The June’); Round 2 - Sep 20, BRC MudDogs September Safari; Round 3 – Nov 14, Nassco November Safari

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