Thrilling Day Four at the East African Safari Classic Rally

The fourth day of the Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic Rally took in four stages of which the shortest was a two-kilometre sprint round a cement quarry. This section was included to give spectators from the Nairobi area a chance to see the rally cars in action. But anyone thinking that Sunday was to be an easy day for the competitors soon had to think again as the first two competitive sections – one in Tanzania and one in Kenya – were both almost 120km each. And they succeeded in shaking up the leader board in no uncertain fashion.

On the first section, the fastest man was Richard Göransson in a Team Tidö Porsche 911 but after his earlier problems, he is classified in the mid-twenties and can only hope to make up a small part of his two and half hour deficit to the leaders. More interesting for the overall classification was that Gregoire de Mevius, driving a BMA Porsche 911, was second fastest. With slower times recorded by both Ian Duncan – the overnight leader in his Ford Capri V8 – and Stig Blomqvist in his Team Tidö Porsche 911, De Mevius thus took the lead. Blomqvist was in on-going trouble with his brakes which, despite several attempts by the Tuthill mechanics to tighten wheel bearings and play with the brake pedal box, was still suffering from ’knock-off’ that could leave the driver without brakes at the end of a straight. In one such place, they slid off and had to use the jack to get stones under the rear wheels to get down off the bank. For Duncan, the problem was the usual one of collecting a puncture and stopping to change it.

In the same section, Viking Motorsport lost its best-classified Ford Escort when Aziz Tejpar came to a halt with a broken strut that ripped out the rest of the front suspension. And the Porsche of Josef Jobst/Jürgen Bertl limped out on four cyinders after their Porsche had broken a valve in the engine that promptly went on to break two rocker arms. There was work too for the medical helicopter when Franz Wünderlich hit a drift hard enough with his Porsche 911 to damage his spine. He drove slowly out of the stage and was then spirited away to hospital in Nairobi with co-driver, Klaus-Peter Kristek.

However, De Mevius’s lead was not to last long since some 73km into the next competitive section the Belgian ace went off the road and could not regain the track thanks to a broken driveshaft. Fastest man here was Geoff Bell in the Amigos team Datsun 260Z who by virtue of that moved ahead of his team leader Steve Perez, also Datsun 260Z mounted, With good times also for the Porsches of Blomqvist and Gérard Marcy, Blomqvist regained the lead of this fascinating rally with a margin of nearly two minutes over Ian Duncan who had sustained no fewer than three punctures in this section. The more worrying news for the Kenyan driver was that Marcy was now only eleven seconds behind him in third place with Bell some two and a half minutes further back in fourth.

Better news for Kenyan drivers was that David and Alex Horsey had moved up in their Tuthill Porsche 911 to lie sixth behind Perez while Onkar Rai/Baldev Chager, also in a Tuthill Porsche 911 were now eighth. Apart from Alastair Cavenagh suffering the minor indignity of breaking a throttle cable on his Viking Ford Escort Mk2 and having to complete the section peering past co-driver, Carl Tundo who was sitting under the open bonnet operating the carburettors by hand, the spectator stage had no effect on the general classification. On the stage itself, the fastest man was Duncan who managed to take nine seconds away from Blomqvist’s lead and eight from Marcy just behind him.

On the fourth and last section of the day, fastest on the section was Baldev Chager in a Tuthill Porsche. The new Kenyan Rally Champion was quite happy with that performance, despite losing third gear. However many others, including the leaders, came out of that section complaining about the fact that there were errors in the road book caused by recent road works that had not been highlighted or corrected by the three-day car.

The situation at the end of the day is that provisionally Blomqvist leads Duncan by fifty seconds with Marcy just over eight minutes behind in third place. The gap to Bell in fourth place is just over thirteen minutes while Bell leads team mate Perez by seven minutes. New chargers in the top part of the field are Rai/Chager and Horsey/Horsey in sixth and seventh places with a mere twenty seconds between them and both lying about two minutes behind Perez. The eighth and ninth places are occupied by Phillip Vandromme’s Porsche 911 and John Lloyd’s Viking Escort almost six minutes further back but with only two seconds between these two cars on the provisional results. The tenth place goes currently to Andrew Siddall driving the third of the Amigos Team Datsun 260Zs, all of whom lie inside the top ten.

Monday is a rest day with time set aside for service on the cars and lighter things such as watching the animals in the fantastic Amboseli Park.

Quotes from the top six crews:
Car no. 5 – Stig Blomqvist/Staffan Parmander Porsche 911:
Our troubles on the first section were all down to the brakes. Something in the car is causing the discs to knock-back the pads in the callipers so when I come to a corner there is no pedal. On this particular place, trying to pump up the brakes at the last moment made the back hang out and before we knew it, we were perched on a bank with both rear wheels off the ground. Thus we couldn’t drive it off but had to jack up first one side and then the other to put stones underneath so that we could drive off. Must have cost us six, seven minutes but it was our good luck that Duncan punctured on that section. The brakes are still not right but we have had no punctures today or any other problem.

Car no. 3 – Ian Duncan/Amaar Slatch Ford Capri V8 Perana:
To have one puncture is unlucky – and that happened to us on the first section – but what can you say when you have three in one section ? That was us on the second section. And before you ask, we don’t carry three spare wheels so we had to drive out on the third puncture. No problems with the car but we will give it a good check over tomorrow. We were a bit disappointed by the road book in the last section as there were quite a few culverts where there was no mention of them from the three-day car notes.

Car no. 6 – Gérard Marcy/Stéphané Prevot Porsche 911:
Phew ! The road book for that last section was so bad. One place it said there was a ‘double caution’ ditch in 1.8 km but in fact it was a mistake and it was only 0.8 km. I tell you, if we had not had full speed at that point and flown over it, there would have been a lot of damage. It is bad things like that and dangerous for guys who may be going a little slower. The rest of the day was good though we did have one puncture where, when we had changed the wheel and let down the jack, we couldn’t restart as the handbrake would not release. The pin had jammed in the mechanism and it took a bit to persuade it to let go.

Car no. 4 – Geoff Bell/Tim Challen Datsun 260Z:
That counts as a good day. We did break a lower wishbone in the rear suspension about fifty kilometres into the first section and we had to drive slowly out for the remaining sixty kilometres. Then we got it fixed and made up for our woe by setting fastest time on the equally long second section.

Car no. 7 – Steve Perez/John Millington Datsun 260Z:
The story of our day is simple – no clutch ! We lost it just coming out of the second long stage onto the main Nairobi road to go and do the spectator section. It was really frightening going through all those villages and hoping that we didn’t have to stop and try to restart. The BRT mechanics tried to bleed the clutch operating system but it didn’t cure the problem so we went to the last section and prayed that we could start the engine in gear on the key. Thankfully it did catch and we got through. So if I say we are very pleased to be here, I really mean it !!

Car no. 19 – Onkar Rai/Baldev Chager Porsche 911:
Rai drove the first three sections today and Chager drove the last section.
In the first section we caught Geoff (Bell) and were stuck in his dust then in the second section we broke the accelerator cable so we used the hand throttle for a bit and then got a nudge from Geoff who had caught us and we stopped to make a proper change over to the second cable. Then in the last section our third gear was broken, but the driver (Chager) still managed to set fastest time.
From Chager: I’m loving it. I’m definitely going to be doing more Est African Safari Classics.

Photos by mcklein.de

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