Alleyne’s record drive

Seventh SOL June safari win for veteran

Victory for Leslie Alleyne in last weekend’s Sol Go Further June Safari has inscribed his name in the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) record books yet again.

Leslie Alleyne (left) and Chris O’Neal (right), received their prizes from Sol general manager Ezra Prescod. (Picture by Corey Reece)
Leslie Alleyne (left) and Chris O’Neal (right), received their prizes from Sol general manager Ezra Prescod. (Picture by Corey Reece)

His seventh victory not only moved him one ahead of fellow June veteran Wayne Clarke, but also carried him back 25 years, to his first appearance on the BRC’s longest-running event.

After a hard-fought overnight event, Alleyne and navigator Chris O’Neal (Isuzu D-Max) accumulated 770 penalties, winning by a margin of 266. Clarke and his regular driver Chris Armstrong (Toyota Hilux) finished second, just three penalties ahead of Ben Norris and Kirk Watkins (Ford Ranger).

Looking back on what he described as a brilliant rally, Alleyne said: “It is one of two that will go down in my memory that stand out above the rest –– the other was my first June Rally in 1990 at the age of 16, navigating for my dad. We came fourth.

“This weekend was a hard-fought battle from the word go. Route 1 was quite a peaceful route that perhaps lulled you into a false impression of what was to come. It was evident after Route 1 that the competition was going to be extremely tight. We had a perfect Route 2 in terms of direction but, with high average speeds, the timing was critical and the Isuzu never let us down.

“Route 3 was the perfect climax. In fact, I think that route needs framing, as it was by far the best and most tricky route that I have ever encountered. The entire route was map work with BRC and straight line to the map. There was one point in Drax Hall that we thought it was all over because nothing was working out, but through perseverance and the help of the rising sun we managed to pull through, with the added pressure of controls nearly closing as we arrived.

“With a massive effort to get back on time and the incredible teamwork with Chris, we were able to bring it home. Chris is a brilliant partner, this achievement could not have happened without him –– it really was a 50/50 team effort and that is critical to success.”

Armstrong and Clarke led after Route 1, with a narrow margin of just 37 penalties over Alleyne/O’Neal, with Michael Ward/Warrick Eastmond (Regional Fire and Security Suzuki Jimny) third, on 216 penalties; the pendulum swung on Route 2, Alleyne/O’Neal the winners, by just four points from Norris and Watkins, with Armstrong/Clarke third, nearly 190 adrift. Once Alleyne/O’Neal beat Armstrong/Clarke and Norris/Watkins in Route 3, the results were sealed.

The route-setters were Stewart Gill and Derek Edwards, both experienced co-drivers and navigators of recent years. Alleyne said: “It was a job well done by all. Special thanks to the route-setters for setting a brilliant and flawless event, to the marshals for their incredible support, to our sponsors Simpson Motors, Shell and Maxxis, and finally to Sol for their continued support of the MudDogs flagship event.”

Alleyne’s seventh win came 19 years after his first, as navigator to Geoff Noel. He won again as navigator to Trevor Manning in 2011; his other five victories coming in the driving seat, twice with wife Annalee, and now three times with O’Neal.

MudDogs chairman Ricky Holder said: “It was a terrific rally and everyone seems to have had a great time. Congratulations to Leslie for moving ahead in the record chase once again, while I should also note that the Championship is heating up, with two events to go and the dropped score rule yet to be applied.”

Source: (RB)

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