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Press Release: Sunday, 27th November 2011

VOI – WILDLIFE LODGE – WALDEGARD IS BACK IN THE LEAD

The Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic rally has seen yet another change of leader on its penultimate day. With true Swedish determination Bjorn and Mathias Waldegård seized back their lead on the first section in their Porsche 911, setting fastest time and gaining more than four minutes over yesterday’s leaders, Geoff Bell and Tim Challen in their Datsun 260Z. “I drove a bit too fast on that first section,” said Waldegård. “I know it well and I like a small attack in the morning but I think I pushed a bit too much.” Meanwhile the first section saw further changes in the top three with Gérard Marcy and Stéphane Prévot losing at least quarter of an hour stuck in the mud and handing third overall place to Stig Blomqvist and Ana Goni. Despite a puncture on the third section Waldegård extended his lead over the rest of the day to just under twenty five minutes. From a trio of Porsches leading the rally on the third day of this epic rally, there is now a much more varied 1-2-3 consisting of a Porsche 911, a Datsun 260Z and a Ford Escort. However the nationalities of the top three are not so varied, comprised of two Swedish drivers and a South African driver.

The first section was a 50 km long twisty road with very rough sections near the end. With his sights clearly set on taking back the lead, Waldegård set fastest time in his Porsche 911 by over two minutes from Grégoire de Mévius and Alain Guehennec in another Porsche 911. Third fastest time was taken by current Kenyan Rally Champion Ian Duncan and co-driver Amaar Slatch. Meanwhile former Kenyan Rally Champion Patrick Njiru and co-driver Fabrizia Pons had further problems with their Porsche 911, which had broken the chassis mountings of the rear torsion bars and only completed the first section of the day.

Next on the crews’ agenda was a 2.5 km spectator section at Athi river near Nairobi which was packed with rally fans, out for a Sunday afternoon’s entertainment. On this sprint section only five seconds separated the three fastest times with de Mévius setting fastest time, followed by Andrew Sidall and Michael Borrisow, whilst third fastest was set by Waldegård, putting him four minutes fifty seconds ahead of Bell with two more sections and 136 competitive kilometres to go for the day.

The 100 km of the third section saw plenty of action. Rally leader Waldegård stopped for about four or five minutes with a front puncture and was passed by de Mévius. “I had hoped to do the whole rally without a puncture,” said Waldegård. “But that’s just not possible on the Safari.” Bell also suffered a puncture on this section and lost time. “Our jack gun was flat,” he said. “So it was a slow change.” Waldegård was clearly keen to make up the lost time, catching up de Mévius and entering into a head-to-head 140 kph race on the fast, flowing part of the section. At about 30 km from the end of the section de Mévius let Waldegård pass. However it was Marcy who set fastest time on this section by nearly four minutes, narrowing Blomqvist’s lead over him to three minutes twenty seconds and continuing the battle for third place on the podium. With de Mévius setting second fastest time, Waldegård still held his lead from Bell and extended it to nearly eight and a half minutes after the third section.

The twist and turns of the last section of the day through the Sagala hills seemed to suit Blomqvist who set fastest time from his fellow Swede, Waldegård, by fifteen seconds and extending his lead over Marcy to nearly twenty minutes. However many of the following crews got stuck in a mud hole behind de Mévius who, having ripped off a wheel, went sideways in the mud and was blocking the route. This included Ian Duncan, Geoff Bell, Steve Perez and Gérard Marcy whilst some, such as Steven Funk and John Lloyd, drove around the mud hole to avoid getting stuck.

At the end of the third day Waldegård has an impressive lead over Bell at nearly twenty-five minutes. Bell seems quite relaxed at losing his lead but is determined to finish on the podium. “After getting stuck in that last section I drove in anger,” he said. “And it was excellent fun but tomorrow I will be very very cautious.” Blomqvist is now in third place but behind Bell by over 48 minutes. “Today has been okay,” said Blomqvist. “The car has been good but we still have one day left to go.”

With only one day and 158 competitive kilometres left of this incredible rally, there is still no room for the crews to relax. As we all know, the Safari can spring a surprise at any moment and change the fortunes of the most experienced crew. As rally leader Waldegård said, “It’s another Safari day tomorrow and I’ve got to drive it like one.”

VOI – WILDLIFE LODGE – QUOTES FROM THE CREWS

1   Ian Duncan / Amaar Slatch (Ford Capri)

“It was just a stupid little mud hole in the last section. We went past Gregoire (de Mevius) who had ripped off a wheel and got stuck sideways. The other sections were rough and horrible – I’m looking forward to a rest at the coast.”

2   Gérard Marcy / Stéphane Prévot (Porsche 911)

“We were stuck for at least fifteen minutes in a mud hole in the first section. Waldegard managed to jump over but he was going very fast. We put the brakes on and then got stuck.”

3   Grégoire de Mévius / Alain Guehennec (Porsche 911)

“We were going well until 6 km into the last section when I hit a big stone as if I was driving like a beginner. The rim was bent and broken and we fixed it with a ratchet so we could just drive out slowly but the front wheels were facing outwards. We found Duncan was stuck in a mud hole and we tried to pass him but the repairs we had done failed and the wheel came off. Then all the other crews came and eventually we were towed out and put the wheel on again, fixing it with a rope around the shock and onto the suspension and drove it to the rest halt at 50 kph. So I think we will have lost a lot of time.”

4   Bjorn Waldegård / Mathias Waldegård (Porsche 911)

“Today was very good. I went to fast in the first section – I know the section and I like it and I also like a small attack in the morning but I went too fast. We hit a drift hard at one point. In the second section we got a front puncture. I had hoped to do the whole rally without a puncture but that’s not possible on the Safari. In the last section we drove through the mudhole – it was about 50 m long and I thought this would be a close one. Tomorrow is another Safari day and I’ll drive it like one.”

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

“It’s been okay today with no drama. The car has been working perfectly at last and the clutch is okay. We will see how we have done today but we still have a day to go.”

6   Steve Perez / Staffan Parmander (Datsun 260Z)

“It was a tough day. In the first section we had no problems but we broke the front suspension on the third section. We caught Stig and were in his dust and hit something and then had to limp out of the section. In the last section we got stuck in that mud hole with several others.”

7   Geoff Bell / Tim Challen (Datsun 260Z)

“That first section was hard and rocky and in the third section we had a puncture. It was a slow change because the jack gun was flat. In the last section we tried to go around the mud hole and then a 4x4 pulled us out. After that I drove with anger which was excellent fun but tomorrow I’m going to be very, very cautious.”

9   Andrew Siddall / Mike Borissow (Datsun 260 Z)

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

“It was a **** day. We blew the clutch on the second section and then the new clutch didn’t work for the last section. We perted around the mud hole for about 5 km.”

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

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

“We had to be towed into service after our car cut out at the time control after the last section. On the stage we went into a massive culvert and thought we had damaged the suspension. Then we limped to the finish where the engine stalled and would not start again.”

14   Steven Funk / Andrew Doig (Porsche 911)

“We had a wonderful run and the car held together all day. It was even nice to me when I started to beat her up a bit. On the last section we gambled and went through the bush to avoid the mud hole.”

15   Jürgen Bertl / Bernhard Ettel (Porsche 911)

“The traffic on the main road was just crazy. We were overtaking everywhere, on the left and on the right. On the long section we broke the rear left shock after just 20 km and had to make 80 km without it. But we made it.”

17   Steve Troman / Michael Nutt (Porsche 911)

“Not a very good day. We broke a steering arm, got stuck in the mud and then perted round the mud and got lost for ten minutes. The last section was very nice, though. We are looking forward to the finish.”

18   Aslam Khan / Arshad Khan (Porsche 911)

“We had a very clean and very nice day. Now we only want a day like this tomorrow. We thought we would get stuck in the mud hole on the last section but we did not. We did not get stuck at all today.”

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

Co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul: “The first three sections were quite good, nothing special. On the last one we had a big misunderstanding with a girl from the organization at the mud hole. We went into a dead end road and lost 15 minutes.”

20   Louis Antonini / Pierre Antonini (Porsche 911)

21   Jayant Shah / Lofty Drews (Datsun 260 Z)

22   Richard Jackson / Preston Ayres (Porsche 911)

“Section three was very rough. Sometimes we were not quite sure if we were ionn the right road. We got stuck in that hole in the last one. Today was still better than the last days. But we are here and still running.”

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

“Today went very well. As a driver I enjoyed the spectator stage very much. The third section was very rough. We got stuck but we were lucky because we were towed out by a 4x4 immediately.”

24   Patrick Njiru / Fabrizia Pons (Porsche 911)

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

“Sadly we missed the first section because the car would not start. It was a distributor problem. After that, the Mercedes got stuck in the mud in front of us and we were perted. I am not sure if that was the right decision. Anyway, we are still here.”

26   Marzio Kravos / Renzo Bernardi (Mercedes 450 SLC)

“Today was fine. We got slightly stuck in the last section. We took it slowly and now we just want to make it to the end. We are not fighting for a position so we take it easy.”

27   Rommy Bamrah / Harvey Jutley (Datsun 260Z)

 

“We nearly made it through the mud on the last section but we stopped 3 metres from the end. On section one we broke the rear control arm and had to change it in the stage. Now we are very thirsty.

28   Nick Mason / Alex Horsey (Datsun 260Z)

29   Albert Michiels / Patrick de Coninck (Porsche 911)

“A good day. We did not have any problems. We only got towed through the mud.”

31   Jacques Walens / Thierry Lacroix (Porsche 911)

32   Kulwinder Sandhu / Harpal Singh Sudle (Datsun P710)

“The first three sections were very good but the last one was a mess. Marzio (Kravos) spun in the mud and blocked the whole road. We perted and let car 25 (Bentley brothers) past and then drove in their dust.”

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

“The first section was good and the third one was very rough, for the car it was the hardest section of the rally so far. The last one was nice but we were in the dust of other cars.”

Co-driver Norris Midwood’s daily bird report: “We saw pelican, ibis, Egyptian geese and shrike today.”

34   Jac Nellemann / Joseph Huber (Porsche 911)

“We made it back to service again and it was a long day again. I do not know what was more difficult today – the competitive sections or the traffic on the main road. Section three was very rough, there were really big washaways on the road. It was a true Safari day.”

35   Minesh Rathod / Sachin Sumaria (Colt Lancer GSR)

“We had a lovely day. We broke the clutch cable before the start of the last section but we changed it and maybe lost a few minutes. We got stuck on the last section but were towed out and didn’t have to wait for long.”

37   Phillipe Vandromme / Frederic Vivier (Porsche 911)

“Today was OK, we had no problems. The last stage was like a WRC stage, very nice.”

Co-driver Frederic Vivier added: “And the navigation was very good today.”

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

“The car is here in one piece, that’s the main thing. It is only our third rally and our learning curve is steep. Today was a good day. It was great fun apart from the long middle section.”

Co-driver Richard Hechle added: “The last section was the best stage for me in the rally. The light was beautiful. Glorious!”

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

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

42   Josef Jobst / Uwe Kurtzenberger (Porsche 911)

“We had a busy day. We were one of the cars to do the last section yesterday so we were busy in service last night. I had to be careful not to fall asleep on the road section today. We wanted to go carefully because we want to see Mombasa tomorrow but we had one special moment in the last section when we were going much too fast over a narrow bridge and hit a drift. It was a happy moment though because it was a lucky moment and everything was okay. At the beginning of the rally we were having bad moments but now we are having more lucky moments.”

43   Peter Stoehr / Crispin Sassoon (Datsun 1600SSS)

“We had a funny experience on section three when a motorbike driver came from the opposite direction and despite seeing us for a while made a somersault forward when he wanted to get around us. And he was even smiling. It felt like being in a circus. After two bad days we had fun again.”

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

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

“In the last section we must have been stuck for 50 minutes behind the Porsche 911 of de Mevius. I think the first and second sections were okay but it was so long ago it’s difficult to remember. I think tomorrow will be a good day.”

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

“We had a nice day but a long day. I think it’s the same for everybody. On the short spectator section my door opened so I had to hold onto it when I was driving and trying to steer so the co-driver changed the gears. Then we went through some mud and since yesterday the wipers weren’t working so I was operating them manually. But as I was keeping the door closed with one hand and steering with the other there were no spare hands left! It was like a comedy.”

47   Bernhard Kessel / Ronny Kessel (Porsche 911)

The crew did not start today.

48   Paolo Faldini / Nicolas Beech (Porsche 911)

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

52   Quentin Savage / Russell Savage (Datsun 180B)


 

 



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