In the endurance struggle that is the East African Safari Classic Rally, with just one day and three competitive sections to go, the point is normally reached when one would expect to find competitors separated by whole fractions of an hour and looking to conserve their positions in the classification not to mention preserving their cars. For many competitors, this is the case but, up front, the situation is that the two leaders are separated by seconds and are still going for victory ‘hammer and tongs’.
Stig Blomqvist left Naivasha this morning in his Tuthill Porsche 911 with a scanty lead of fifty-nine seconds over Ian Duncan in his Ford Capri V8 and promptly made his mark by setting a fastest time on the first competitive section that was three minutes and three seconds faster than his pursuer who suffered a puncture.
But then Blomqvist’s luck took a downturn and he sustained a puncture and lost four minutes and eight seconds to Duncan who promptly moved back into the front with a lead of six seconds over the Swedish, ex-World Rally Champion. On the third and last competitive section of the day, it was Duncan who again had the advantage and extended his lead – by another three seconds to a total of nine seconds.
Behind these two, there have been few changes. The Horseys had been looking to make progress themselves on the man ahead of them, Steve Perez in the Amigos Datsun 260Z who had started the day more than six minutes ahead of them. However they are still over three minutes behind Perez and another Kenyan crew Rai and Chager have made up some time and are now only 16 seconds behind them.
By virtue of a sterling performance on the first section, Gregoire de Mevius put his BMA Porsche 911 back into the top ten by gobbling up the thirteen seconds that he lagged behind Phillipe van Heurck also Porsche mounted. He then led van Heurck by more then two and half minutes. He repeated the performance on the second section going two and half minutes quicker than Kenyan, Manvir Baryan in a Porsche 911 to grab ninth place overall, albeit by a mere five seconds. At the end of the day, he was promoted to eighth by Geoff Bell’s misfortunes in his Datsun 260Z who broke his differential on the third section. However de Mevius stands little hope of advancing further without major trouble striking those ahead of him since he lies almost twenty-three minutes behind John Lloyd in his Viking Autosport Ford Escort Mk2 in seventh place.
Friday is the last day of competition and see the remaining crews tackle three stages all very similar to the three that started this rally eight days ago last Thursday. These three sections total one hundred and ninety kilometres and there will be several prayers being offered up tonight by the surviving crews : freedom from mechanical problems, no punctures and a good clean run back to the Whitesands Hotel outside Mombasa. But all eyes will be on Duncan and Blomqvist as they struggle for victory in Ford Capri and Porsche 911 respectively.
Provisional Overall Classification:
01) Ian Duncan/Amaar Slatch (Ford Capri) – 15h 10m 06s
02) Stig Blomqvist/Staffan Parmander (Tuthill Porsche 911) – 15h 10m 15s
03) Gerard Marcy/Stephane Prevot (Tuthill Porsche 911) – 15h 39m 42s
04) Steve Perez/John Millington (Datsun 260Z) – 16h 01m 30s
05) David Horsey/Alex Horsey (Tuthill Porsche 911) – 16h 04m 39s
06) Onkar Rai/Baldev Chager (Porsche 911) – 16h 04m 55s
07) John Lloyd/Adrian Cavenagh (Ford Escort RS1800) – 16h 16m 42s
08) Gregoire De Mevius/Alain Guehennec (Porsche 911) 16h 41m 15s
09)Manvir Baryan/Jaswinder Chanda (Porsche 911) – 16h 45m 23s
10) Patrick Van Heurck/Alain Lopes (Tuthill Porsche 911) – 16h 51m 52s
Photos by mcklein.de