Press Release: Sunday, 20th November 2011
AMBOSELI – KILIMA CAMP – VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
They say variety is the spice of life and this was definitely the case for the first competitive day of the Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic Rally. There was a large range of conditions with the leader board chopping and changing throughout the day.
The 2009 winners, Ian Duncan and Amaar Slatch, were in the lead after the first competitive section in their Ford Capri with Bjorn and Mathias Waldegård in second place in their Porsche 911, whilst Steve Perez and Staffan Parmander were in third in their Datsun 260Z.
The twists and turns of the second competitive section in the Taita Hills saw a change in the top three with Duncan dropping down to fifth place after a navigational error, placing Waldegård in the lead. On this second section Travis Pastrana and Fabrizia Pons set fastest time by over half a minute in their Porsche 911, pulling them up from fifth to second place with Belgian crew Grégoire de Mévius and Alain Guehennec in third place in another Porsche 911. Unfortunately Perez who did so well on the first section hit problems in the second section with a broken propshaft and slipped down the field. Meanwhile strong favourite and several-times East African Safari Classic competitor Gérard Marcy had climbed up to fourth despite still suffering a lack of power in his Porsche 911.
The third competitive section saw another change of fortunes for many but not so for Waldegård who kept his lead. “With such a variety of conditions it was a full Safari in one day,” he said. De Mévius moved up to second place despite hitting a stone that was hidden in the mud at the end of the section. “We discovered the famous black cotton mud,” he said. “And we also discovered a large stone but fortunately it was a rolling one!” After such an impressive performance on the second section, Pastrana also hit a rock and suffered a puncture on the front right as well as damaging the rim. Nevertheless he was still exhilarated by the day’s adventure. “The mud was so amazing,” he said. “But we had difficulty changing the tyre and the jack didn’t work - it was one of the world’s longest changes according to Fabrizia (Pons).” Meanwhile Duncan set fastest time on the third competitive section, which pulled him up to third place. “The car is going well,” he said. “We hit a rock in the third stage but luckily it didn’t cause any problems.” Marcy remained in fourth place in his Porsche 911 with Geoff Bell and Tim Challen making up the top five in their Datsun 260Z, despite stopping to help fellow team mate Steve Perez in the second section. “We had an interesting spin in the last section,” he smiled. “But I hope it didn’t lose us too much time!” Unfortunately the other former World Rally Champion in the event, Stig Blomqvist, suffered a broken real axle in the last competitive section.
With many competitors stuck in the mud at the end of the last competitive section the positioning of the rest of the field still remains to be seen. What’s for sure is that every crew will have had an adventure of some kind today.
Quotes for top crews
1 Bjorn Waldegård / Mathias Waldegård (Porsche 911)
“It was fantastic – a full Safari in one day. The first section was fast, the second twisty and the third was slippery like hell for the last 30 km.”
2 Grégoire de Mévius / Alain Guehennec (Porsche 911)
“The first section was very fast and I was a bit scared. The second section was slower and we managed to catch Marcy at the end. On the third section we discovered the famous black cotton mud and hit a stone but luckily it was a rolling one!”
3 Ian Duncan / Amaar Slatch (Ford Capri)
“We got lost for about a minute in the second section and hit a rock in the last section but there’s been no problems with the car”
4 Gérard Marcy / Stephane Prévot (Porsche 911)
“There was some really bad mud at the end of the last competitive section but we’ve had a big problem with power all day. We’ve tried changing everything but it still isn’t fixed and it also seems to be overheating.”
5 Geoff Bell / Tim Challen (Datsun 260Z)
“A great day – we lost it in the last section and found ourselves facing the other direction but hopefully we didn’t lose too much time. And I think I’m still ahead of Steve (Perez) and Andrew (Siddall) in the Gentleman’s World Rally Championship!”
6 Thomas Flohr /Didier Breton (Porsche 911)
“The second section was beautiful in the Taita Hills and fantastically slippery on the way down. In the third section the mud was very deep in places and it was just a question of survival!”
7 Travis Pastrana / Fabrizia Pons (Porsche 911)
“It was a really good day. We saw zebra and the mud was an amazing adventure. The first section was very fast and the second was very technical which was where we were fastest. In the third section we ran over a shrub which was hiding a rock and got a puncture on the front right!”
Corrigendum: Apologies for our time travelling error at the start of the last press release. Of course the first Safari Classic was in 2003 so this year's event is the eighth anniversary of that happy occasion and not the tenth as our jet-lagged brains calculated.
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