Clean sweep for new victor and former Champion Croney
The Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) off-road community celebrated a new winner at Tuesday’s (March 14) Prizegiving for last weekend’s March Safari at the Barbados Clay Target Shooting Association (BCTSA) Club House at Searles, Christ Church. First-time victor Jean-Marc Cozier and former Champion Navigator Andrew Croney received the trophies as winning Driver and Navigator respectively in the opening round of the 2017 Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship.
 Crewing the unusual Honda Pioneer, they incurred a total of 395 penalties, which gave them a winning margin of 434 over Wayne Manning and Willie Hinds in the Black Bess Construction Suzuki Samurai; four-time Champions Leslie Alleyne and Chris O'Neal (Simpson Motors/Shell Spirax/Shell Rimula/Maxxis Isuz D-Max) finished third, a further 69 penalties adrift.
 Cozier and Croney had teamed up for the first time in last year’s final event, the Nassco November Safari, in which they finished third. Last Sunday (March 12), however, there was no beating them; they not only won overall, but were top on both morning and afternoon routes and also picked up maximum points in the two Driver Challenges, the first round of the new-for-2017 Shelbury Construction Trophy.
 They started to open a gap to the opposition on route one, which led the crews from Colleton Plantation in St John to the lunch halt at the Sand Dunes Restaurant on Ermy Bourne Highway in St Andrew, which came just after the first Driver Challenge, run off on the field just south of Barclays Park. While they led with just 107 penalties, their early challengers were George and Garry Mendes (G & G Sales & Services Inc Mitsubishi Sportero) on 181, with 2010 Champions Ryan Corbin and Dustin Edwards (Corbin's Catering Services Toyota Hilux) third on 310.
 Those two crews did not fare so well on the second route, as the convoy of off-roaders threaded their way north towards the second Driver Challenge, then the finish, both at Hannays Swamp in St Lucy. Cozier and Croney enjoyed a greater margin of success, 190 points ahead of Alleyne and O’Neal, with Manning and Hinds third, just a further five points behind. Route-setters for the season-opener were Johnny Pinto and Mark Western, who were thanked, along with the marshals and other helpers, by BRC MudDogs Sub-committee Chairman Ricky Holder on Tuesday evening.
 While Cozier was a newcomer to the top step of the MudDogs podium, Croney has been there before; he won the overall title, and was also the highest-placed Novice Navigator, in 2006, when he also claimed his first Safari win, alongside Derek Gill. They went on to win again in 2014, missing the Driver and Navigator titles by just two points, and for the last time together in 2015.
March Safari, March 12
Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship – round 1
1st Jean-Marc Cozier/Andrew Croney (Honda Pioneer), 395 penalties
2nd Wayne Manning/Willie Hinds (Black Bess Construction Suzuki Samurai), 829pens
3rd Leslie Alleyne/Chris O'Neal (Simpson Motors/Shell Spirax/Shell Rimula/Maxxis Isuz D-Max), 898pens
4th Chris Armstrong/Wayne Clarke (Toyota Hilux), 968pens
5th George Mendes/Garry Mendes (G & G Sales & Services Inc Mitsubishi Sportero), 1055pens
6th Michael Ward/Warrick Eastmond (Regional Fire & Security/Quality Tyre Suzuki Jimny), 1195pens
7th Ryan Corbin/Dustin Edwards (Corbin's Catering Services Toyota Hilux), 1200pens
8th Richard Hinkson/Kevin-Jon Manning (Goodyear Tyres Suzuki Samurai), 1855pens
9th Robert Warren/Ian Warren (Land Rover Defender), 1868pens
10th Adrian Sinkler/Kerry Renne (Suzuki Samurai), 2702pens
Route 1 – 1st Cozier/Croney, 107pens; 2nd Mendes/Mendes, 181pens; 3rd Corbin/Edwards, 310pens; 4th Manning/Hinds, 346pens; 5th Alleyne/O’Neal, 420pens; etc
Route 2 – 1st Cozier/Croney, 288pens; 2nd Alleyne/O’Neal, 478pens; 3rd Manning/Hinds, 483pens; 4th Armstrong/Clarke, 508pens; 5th Ward/Eastmond, 625pens; etc
Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship
& Chefette MudDogs Safari Novice Championship
Round 2 - April 8; * MudFest - May 1; Round 3 - June 24/25; Round 4 - September 17; Round 5 - November 12. * non-championship event (to be confirmed)
Photo by Corey Reece
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