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Press Release: Friday, 25th November 2011

NAIVASHA – SOPA LODGE – THE TABLES TURN AGAIN

Fortunes turned yet again on the sixth day of the Kenya Airways East African Safari, proving just how unpredictable this unique event can be. Despite having a forty minute lead at the start of the day, the rally leaders Bjorn and Mathias Waldegård moved down to second place overall after a collision with a truck that was stuck in a mud hole right at the end of the second section. “We saw the truck but I took the wrong side despite what my navigator told me,” said Waldegård. “The wheels got stuck in a rut and I couldn’t get them out so we clipped the corner of the lorry on the right hand side. It’s not easy to make a clean Safari even for an old fox!” 

The Porsche 911’s roll cage was badly damaged which meant it had to be fixed en route to the third section and they incurred 41 minutes as road penalties. This has put Geoff Bell and Tim Challen into the lead in their Datsun 260Z by six and a half minutes. Bell, who had been setting excellent times all day, was elated when he arrived at Naivasha. “I’m just glad Bjorn and Mathias are not hurt,” he said. “But I do think perhaps we should stop the rally here!! Unfortunately I think the legend will be back tomorrow.” The Porsche 911 of Gérard Marcy and Stéphane Prévot has moved into third place as Steven Funk and Andrew Doig were stranded between two rivers in the first section and were then late into the rest of the sections and hindered by traffic.

Drama started early on the sixth day of the Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic rally. Half-way through the first section, in almost biblical fashion, a flash flood inundated a river crossing, just after the first ten cars had passed through. The rest of the competitors were then left stranded on the other side and had to be re-routed to the start of the second section at Kajiado. Unfortunately the third-placed Porsche 911 of Steven Funk passed the first river crossing only to find a flash flood in a second river. By this time there had also been a flash flood in the first river, which was now behind them, leaving them stranded between the two until the water subsided. Alastair Cavenagh and Frank Tundo had overtaken Funk earlier in the section and their Ford Escort was already stuck in the second river before it was pulled out backwards to join Funk. It was a real “tale of two rivers”. Even more stranded were the crew of Simon Tysoe and Imran Khan: when co-driver Khan went to test the depth of the water, a flash flood approached causing him to flee to the opposite bank leaving Tysoe and the Ford Escort on the other side of the river. Many of the later crews got stuck in mud at the beginning of the first section but then took the re-route from the river, whilst the last few crews didn’t start the section and went straight to the second section at Kajiado.
Out of those who completed the first section Stig Blomqvist and Ana Goni set fastest time by over two and a half minutes in their Ford Escort and the crew that had been battling with Waldegård for the lead on the second day, Grégoire de Mévius and Alain Guehennec, set second fastest time in their Porsche 911. Third fastest on this section was the second-placed overall Datsun 260Z of Geoff Bell who was already closing the gap on the rally leader. Waldegård was over eight minutes slower than the fastest time set on this section by his fellow Swede Blomqvist. Meanwhile current Kenyan Rally Champion Ian Duncan and co-driver Amaar Slatch got stuck earlier in the section and lost a lot of time but made it through the section. “We got stuck for about ten minutes but the river crossing later on wasn’t a problem when we went through.” Apart from the crews that managed to pass the river crossings, the rest of the crews were given a notional time for the section.

The second section was relatively short for the Safari at just under 50 km but was wet and slippery in places. Bell set the fastest time with Blomqvist over a minute behind and Waldegård setting third fastest time for this section, despite his incident with the truck. Due to the earlier problems with the floods on the first section there was a regroup at Whistling Thorns where Waldegård’s rollcage was deemed unsafe by chief scrutineer Karl-Heinz Goldstein. Since the holding area is parc fermé no work could be done on the car until it was back on the road section, which is where Waldegård incurred his penalties.

The final Suswa section of the day was again relatively short at 59 km but was tough and rocky. Waldegård was clearly driving hard to make up time, setting fastest time by a minute and a half from de Mévius whilst Duncan took third fastest. Unfortunately Funk had problems on this section, stuck behind traffic now he was running so far down the field due to his hold-up on the first section. On the results he has currently slipped down to fifth place behind Marcy and Blomqvist, whilst many of the later competitors drove the last section in a huge storm, describing it as a wall of water.

Although the Porsche 911 of de Mévius hit problems on the fourth day, dropping down the field from second to fifteenth position, they have now climbed up to ninth overall, whilst the other two Kronos Vintage Porsches in the rally are doing well. Director of Kronos Vintage Jean-Pierre Mondron with co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul are lying in seventh place overall behind Steve Perez and Staffan Parmander in their Datsun 260Z in sixth, whilst Phillipe Vandromme and Frédéric Vivier are in eighth place overall. Making up the top ten behind the three Kronos Vintage Porsches in tenth place overall are John Lloyd and Adrian Cavenagh in their Ford Escort who moved up one place today.

Once again the Safari has sprung another surprise on its competitors and there are still another three days to go. With some hard and rough roads around Lake Baringo tomorrow there could be yet another change of fortunes to come.

QUOTES FROM THE CREWS

1   Ian Duncan / Amaar Slatch (Ford Capri)

“We got stuck in a mud hole at the start of the first section and lost about ten minutes but when we went through the river there was no problem.”

2   Gérard Marcy / Stephane Prévot (Porsche 911)

“We had a difficult day. The first section was okay and we just took it slowly, slowly. In the second section we got stuck behind Perez for quite some time and the third section was okay.”

3   Grégoire de Mévius / Alain Guehennec (Porsche 911)

“We had a good day and managed to get through the river in the first section. We passed Ian (Duncan) stuck in the mud and then at about 80 km into the section we started to catch Bjorn (Waldegård) and he let us go past near to the end. The second section was very slippery and fast and we were opening the road as we had nearly hit the truck that Bjorn hit and we went to left. The last section was nice – fast and rough. The car is going great – I love it!”

4   Bjorn Waldegård / Mathias Waldegård (Porsche 911)

“The first section was the most difficult Safari section I have ever seen. We were also first on the road, which made it even more difficult as we had no tracks to see. The second section was going fine then 500 metres before the time control there was a lorry stuck sideways in a mud hole. I could see it from a long distance and I could see Gregoire had gone on the left hand side. Then I did a stupid thing, even though Mathias said to go on the right hand side I went on the left hand side and got stuck in Gregoire’s tracks and couldn’t get out so we slid and clipped the corner of the lorry which hit the side of the car and damaged the roll cage. It’s not easy to make a clean Safari even for an old fox! We rebuilt the roll cage on the road section and I was a bit upset for the last section so I didn’t go slow but I didn’t go to the max either. And so the Safari starts again!”

5   Stig Blomqvist / Ana Goni (Ford Escort RS 1800)

“It was alright.”

After hearing he had set fastest time on the first section, Stig remarked: “I just wanted to get out of the bloody place.”

6   Steve Perez / Staffan Parmander (Datsun 260Z)

“It was as if we were in Wales today – we’ve had rain and fog so I feel really at home! On the second section we had a big spin and the back end got stuck so we couldn’t start it for a while as the exhaust was in the bank. We lost about six minutes and Marcy caught us.

7   Geoff Bell / Tim Challen (Datsun 260Z)

“I’m just glad Bjorn and Mathias are not hurt. But I really do think we should stop the rally here as unfortunately I think the legend will be back.”

8   Alastair Cavenagh / Carl Tundo (Ford Escort Mark 2)

After getting drowned in the river on the first section the Escort had water in the oil. The crew managed drain the oil and put new oil in but they stopped to check it at Kajiado and the car wouldn’t start so they came on a tow rope back to Naivasha.

9   Andrew Siddall / Mike Borissow (Datsun 260 Z)

“We’ve had a very stressful day – first a herd of giraffe crossed us and then a donkey! The river in the first section was easy to get through! It was just all the wimps that didn’t go through!”

10   John Lloyd / Adrian Cavenagh (Ford Escort RS 1800)

“I’m (expletives removed) tired! The day went fine and we had a clean run. The river in the first section was fine too so I hope we’ve pulled up some places.”

11  Aziz Tejpar / Andy Nagi (Ford Escort Mark 1)

“Crap!!! We got to the river in the first section and had to turn back. It was a very interesting second section – a real car breaker!

12   Simon Tysoe / Imran Khan (Ford Escort Mark 1)

14   Steven Funk / Andrew Doig (Porsche 911)

“We got stuck between the two rivers on first section then we helped Alistair Cavenagh who was in the second river right up to the windows. Our car was literally carried over the river by 40 Masai and also towed by Cavenagh. Afterwards we lost about 15 minutes in the dust of slower cars and because of trucks.”

15   Jürgen Bertl / Bernhard Ettel (Porsche 911)

“Not such a good day. We broke something in the rear but not sure what it is yet. We broke the reverse gear in the mud and in the last section it was like we were driving through a river.”

17   Steve Troman / Michael Nutt (Porsche 911)

“We had a good day and turned back at the river in section one. However we made some silly mistakes when we were stuck for over 10 minutes about 100 meters from the flying finish.”

18   Aslam Khan / Arshad Khan (Porsche 911)

“It was very wet, very tough and very slippery! But we had a very good run! “

19   Jean-Pierre Mondron / Nicolas Gilsoul (Porsche 911)

“We’ve had a lot of water and it isn’t like the last Safari Classic in 2009. It’s so slippery it’s like driving on ice and difficult to keep the car on the road. I have to say I prefer the Safari in the hot dry weather.”

20   Louis Antonini / Pierre Antonini (Porsche 911)

21   Jayant Shah / Lofty Drews (Datsun 260 Z)

The 260Z ran a bearing in the clutch and replaced the clutch (again). The crew didn’t do any sections today and came straight to Naivasha.

22   Richard Jackson / Preston Ayres (Porsche 911)

23   Thierry de Latre de Bosqueau / Eric Werner (Porsche 911)

“Today was very, very wet and difficult and we had lots of problems. We got stuck in the black cotton on the first section, then our starter motor broke on the second section but we made it to service. And we had to push a cow off the road which just would not move. On the third section we went through a storm with fog, rain and mud.”

24   Patrick Njiru / Fabrizia Pons (Porsche 911)

“We started the rally 21st. It was SO SAFARI! It is very exciting and very good to be back after a 10 year break.”

25   Mark Bentley / Edward Bentley (Ford Escort Mark 1)

“It was interesting and wet. We got as far as the river in the first section and the second section was extremely slippery!”

26   Marzio Kravos / Renzo Bernardi (Mercedes 450 SLC)

“We got quite a bit of rain in the sections but nevertheless they were all good. The second section was very slippery. Things on this rally change every day.”

27   Rommy Bamrah / Harvey Jutley (Datsun 260Z)

“We are really freezing now. We broke a rear control arm on the last section and needed one and a half hour to fix it. Then the road turned into a river and we drove cross-country to get around it. It was a proper flash flood.”

28   Nick Mason / Alex Horsey (Datsun 260Z)

“We have never seen anything like this before. At the end of the third section the road turned into a river which just picked you up. The whole car was full of water, it even went over the roof. We just managed to make it. But it destroyed our head gasket.”

29   Albert Michiels / Patrick de Coninck (Porsche 911)

31   Jacques Walens / Thierry Lacroix (Porsche 911)

The car got stuck on the last section at the very end and the water was so deep it was coming in the windows. They were pulled out the section and phoned the service crew because the engine wasn’t working well. They managed to drive the car but got lost on the way back to Naivasha.

32   Kulwinder Sandhu / Harpal Singh Sudle (Datsun P710)

“In the last section we encountered a major storm after about 10 km but how we got out is beyond me! The damage done today is more than the previous four days put together!”

33   Richard Arrowsmith / Norris Midwood (Ford Escort Mark 1)

“We had a really good day. We didn’t make it through the river and the second section was very wet! The third section was even better! Just what we have paid money to do!”

From co-driver Norris: “I saw a snowy eagret, a grey and white falcon and plenty of sand grouse.”

34   Jac Nellemann / Joseph Huber (Porsche 911)

“The first section was closed before we went through and we expected to gain a few places but it didn’t happen! In the last section we cut a corner, hit stones and got a puncture! We’re surviving and looking forward to a cold beer!”

35   Minesh Rathod / Sachin Sumaria (Colt Lancer GSR)

“The water was about 50 cm high inside our car, you can feel how wet our seat is. We are now completely wet and freezing. And we did not have any windscreen wipers the whole day.”

36   Gunther Kronseder / Gerd Petzold (Mercedes 450SLC)

37   Phillipe Vandromme / Frederic Vivier (Porsche 911)

“That was a varied day! The first section was so wet and slippery it was like the Andros Trophy on the first section. The second section was like the Camel Trophy and the third was like Morocco.”

38   Jonathan Somen / Richard Hechle (Ford Escort Mark 2)

“A very interesting day with lots and lots of water and lots of mud. We did not complete the first section and the second section was super. On the third section we drove into a wall of water, which was a metre high. We had lots of fun. It was unbelievable.”

39   Ramesh Vishram / Atul Kochhar (Ford Escort Mark 2)

“Very very very wet!!!!!! We had no problems though.”

40   Arron Banks / Tim Chesser (Ford Escort Mark 1)

“That was wild! The road turned into a river a few kilometres from the end of the third section. For us it was the first day we have not crashed and the first day we have not been out of the car on the section!”

42   Josef Jobst / Uwe Kurtzenberger (Porsche 911)

“AMAZING! How did we get here?! The first two sections were ok, however in the last section we couldn’t see a meter ahead of us! We broke the front right arm. This rally is definitely an education!”

43   Peter Stoehr / Crispin Sassoon (Datsun 1600SSS)

“The third section was just unbelievable. Everything was dry and it did not rain and suddenly there was a river coming towards us. Before that we already had a v-belt braking during a river crossing. I am really tired now.”

Crispin Sassoon added: “The flood was as high a hedge. It even washed a saloon car with four people in it down the road.”

44   Kurt A Engelhorn / Johan Nel (Ford Escort Mark 1)

The car got stuck at the end of the last section.

45   Franz Wunderlich / Klaus-Peter Kristek (Porsche 911 )

“When we got to the river in the first section it was 3 metres high and not possible to cross and the re-route was very wet and slippery. But the rest of the day was perfect. We’re beginning to realise this is typical Safari!”

46   Jean-Michel Martin / Ronain Martin (Ford Escort Mark 2)

“We got stuck in the first section after 16 km but got out ourselves. On the second section we hit a bad stone and broke the front left suspension, which we repaired in service. The third section was fine until 4 km from the finish where the track was like a river. We went onto the side and got through. It was a tough day.”

47   Bernhard Kessel / Ronny Kessel (Porsche 911)

“It was wet. The water was one metre high in the road. We went around it on the grass and made it but it was more luck than anything else. We also got stuck on the second section but it was still fun.”

48   Paolo Faldini / Nicolas Beech (Porsche 911)

51   Samira Khan / Anita Irwin (Ford Escort Mark 1)

“When we saw the river coming towards us in the third section, we nearly turned back. It was something I have never seen before. But we gave it a go and made it. We just needed to be towed once when the engine stalled. It was a good and trying day but we enjoyed it.”

52   Quentin Savage / Russell Savage (Datsun 180B)

“We did not do any stages today because yesterday in service we realised that the back end of the car was falling off. We took the car back to Nairobi where we got proper welding equipment and worked over night. For tomorrow everything is done and we will rejoin the race.”

 



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