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Press Release: Monday, 28th November 2011

MOMBASA – SAROVA WHITESANDS – FIRST PORSCHE SAFARI WIN

On the last day of the Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic rally the priority of all crews was to drive their cars over the finishers’ ramp at Mombasa, come hell or high water. And there have been plenty of both on this incredible adventure of a rally. Out of the forty-six crews that started the rally nine days ago, forty-three crews set off from Voi this morning for the final day of competition. This is an impressive number of survivors on this epic event that combines endurance with high speed competition over some of the toughest terrain and through some of the toughest conditions.

Bjorn and Mathias Waldegård, who were leading the event yesterday by twenty-four minutes, took it cautiously all day in their Porsche 911, setting respectable times but by no means the fastest. “It was a cruising day today,” said Waldegård. “And we didn’t put in an attack. I’m very glad to be here and very, very glad to have won the rally. Mathias has done an absolutely brilliant job and done everything 100 %.”  Second-placed crew Geoff Bell and Tim Challen were also taking things easy in their Datsun 260Z but still suffered two punctures in the last section. “We had two punctures only 400 metres apart from each other,” said Bell. “And we managed to bend a rim. I’m very glad to be here. We’ve been taking it easy today but maybe that was problem!” Third placed Stig Blomqvist and Ana Goni also decided not to push too hard in their Ford Escort. “It’s been a really hard rally this year,” said Blomqvist. “But that’s the way it is on the Safari.”

As the cars went over the ramp at the Sarova Whitesands hotel in Mombasa there had been no change in the top three from yesterday. After an impressive battle with several top crews Waldegård was the overall winner by thirty-five minutes from Bell. This is the first Porsche victory on the Safari rally. Third place overall went to Blomqvist who, despite hitting major problems with a broken axle on the first day, had climbed up from thirty-first position and was forty-one minutes behind Bell. Considering that the majority of the cars in the rally were Porsche 911s, the final 1-2-3 of a Porsche 911, a Datsun 260Z and a Ford Escort provided a nice persity.

On the first 27 km section in the Taita foothills Gérard Marcy and Stéphane Prévot set fastest time by only five seconds from Steven Funk and Andrew Doig in another Porsche 911, while third fastest time went to Ian Duncan and Amaar Slaatch in their Ford Capri. Waldegård set only twelfth fastest but with, twenty-four minutes in hand over Bell, it was clear that the former World Rally Champion had a safe steady finish in his sights. The other former World Rally Champion on the event, Stig Blomqvist, had problems on the road section when the engine cut out but, having changed the coil, the car continued.

The second section of the day was the rally’s first section in reverse with a small twist in the centre. Funk was clearly getting into his stride on this fast open section, setting quickest time by over half a minute from Duncan, while Perez, who also went well in the first section, set third fastest. Waldegård set eighth fastest time and his lead over Bell had now been diminished to twenty-two minutes but, with only 45 competitive kilometres and the road section back to Mombasa left to go, the Swedish crew clearly didn’t want to take any risks.

However the last section was not without its problems. Second overall crew Geoff Bell and Tim Challen hit problems in their Datsun 260Z when they had two punctures in quick succession and bent a rim, losing at least ten minutes. Fortunately for Bell he had a substantial lead over third placed Blomqvist and managed to maintain his second place overall, putting him between two former World Rally Champions on the podium which is no mean feat! This meant that Waldegård’s lead extended to thirty-five minutes over Bell, whilst the gap between second placed Bell and third placed Blomqvist was reduced to just under forty-one minutes. Steve Troman and Michael Nutt set fastest time on this last section in their Porsche 911 with Marcy setting second fastest and Duncan setting third fastest. This meant the top three remained the same from yesterday, as did the top ten indicating that everyone was adopting a cautious approach to ensure a safe finish. 

Multiple Safari competitor Marcy finished in fourth place in his Porsche 911, followed by Steve Perez and Staffan Parmander in their Datsun 260Z in fifth place. The Kick Energy rally team had battled through a fair amount of adversity from the offset and moved up an impressive 28 places from the first day when they were lying 33rd. Sixth place was taken by Steven Funk and Andrew Doig in their Porsche 911 who had put in a reliable performance throughout the rally and set their first fastest time on today’s second section.

Current Kenyan Rally Champion Ian Duncan finished in seventh place alongside co-driver Amaar Slatch. The Ford Capri crew were in the top three for the first part of the rally but dropped down to 22nd place due to mechanical problems on the third day but managed to pull up to seventh place overall. Having driven a consistent rally, the Kronos Vintage Porsche 911 crew of Jean-Pierre Mondron and Nicolas Gilsoul finished in eighth place whilst John Lloyd and Adrian Cavenagh were in ninth place. A keen fan of the Safari principles of rallying, Lloyd has promised that this WILL be his last Safari but only time will tell. Making up the top ten was another Kronos Vintage Porsche 911 crew in the hands of Philippe Vandromme and Frédéric Vivier, whilst a third Kronos Vintage Porsche was eleventh in the hands of Grégoire de Mévius and Alain Guehennec. De Mévius, who is a former Production Car World Rally Champion, led the rally on the second day but broke his suspension on the fourth day and dropped down to 15th place. At the beginning of yesterday he had pulled up to sixth place but then dropped down to 13th after hitting a rock and then losing a wheel in a mud hole in yesterday’s final section.

Although getting on the podium of this remarkable event is an incredible achievement so too is making the finishers’ ramps, which was clear by the huge smiles on each and every one of the crews that finished today. Indeed, it’s difficult to find words to describe the experience of competing on this event but, one thing’s for sure, it’s definitely addictive.

MOMBASA – SAROVA WHITESANDS – QUOTES FROM THE CREWS AT THE END OF THE EAST AFRICAN SAFARI CLASSIC RALLY

1   Ian Duncan / Amaar Slatch (Ford Capri)

“Today was okay but it was a shame we couldn’t do another section rather than coming in with all that traffic on the Mombasa road. We’ve had fun racing with Steven (Funk) today and everyone seems happy with the rally.”

2   Gérard Marcy / Stéphane Prévot (Porsche 911)

“I enjoyed today and was pushing a little bit but the engine got very hot in the second section so we didn’t go too fast that section. I’m here and that’s very nice.”

3   Grégoire de Mévius / Alain Guehennec (Porsche 911)

“We went gently today. We caught up two cars and are in eleventh place overall. This rally is really something special and much tougher than I thought, especially for a classic car rally. And from what I heard it was especially tough this year.”

4   Bjorn Waldegård / Mathias Waldegård (Porsche 911)

“We had a cruising day today and some of the sections were rough like hell so we didn’t put in an attack. I’m very glad to be here and very, very glad to have won the rally. Mathias has done an absolutely brilliant job. He was very good in 2007 but he has got even better and done everything 100 %. He has set quite a record on the Safari, winning both times he has competed in 2007 and 2011.”

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

“It has been a really hard rally this time but that’s the way it is. On the road to the first section the engine stopped and we still had problems with the ignition in the first section.”

6   Steve Perez / Staffan Parmander (Datsun 260Z)

“We made it! We pushed a bit today because we thought we had nothing to lose. We caught Marcy on one section and got caught in his dust and we caught Geoff (Bell) in the last section. We’ve had no problems today and no punctures for all of the rally. We were disappointed with what happened on the first day but we’ve managed to pull up. We’ve finished the whole rally and haven’t missed a section or a kilometre. It’s a great rally – I’ll definitely be back in 2013.”

7   Geoff Bell / Tim Challen (Datsun 260Z)

“That last one was a section from hell. We had two punctures only 400 metres apart. We changed one and then changed the other and then there was this terrible vibrating noise but we crawled through and realised we had bent a rim. I’m very glad to be here. We’ve been taking it easy today and maybe that was the problem!”

9   Andrew Siddall / Mike Borissow (Datsun 260 Z)

“On the first section the engine temperature went up and we lost water. Then on the second we had a driveshaft fail and were stranded as the spare did not fit. We had heard a bad noise at the right rear end since yesterday and now we know where it came from. But the third section was alright.”

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

“We’re lucky to be here. The coil went in the last section and we had to change it. It’s been a lot tougher than I expected and that hour we spent in the river wasn’t too fun. Judging how I feel today this is definitely the last Safari I’ll do.”

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

“Today was a day from hell! On the second section after 44 kilometres the engine started overheating. We had to stop the engine for it to cool down and later stop three more times to get water again.”

14   Steven Funk / Andrew Doig (Porsche 911)

“There’s no comparison to when I competed last time. This is a great car and I’ve been competing against great cars. Ian (Duncan) and Bjorn (Waldegard) taught me so much. I’m just amazed that this little boy from Iowa can come sixth in this event   -  that go-karting I did when I was younger must have helped!”

15   Jürgen Bertl / Bernhard Ettel (Porsche 911)

“The first section was okay. On the second we first had a puncture after 30 km and then I was not concentrating and took a ditch flat out. We bent the rim which got stuck in the brake pad and destroyed the cross member. We fixed it with some tools from the locals. Now we are more than happy that we have crossed the ramp.”

17   Steve Troman / Michael Nutt (Porsche 911)

“Today was okay – we got lost in the second section and lost quite a lot of time. We had a quite a good run on the last section.”

18   Aslam Khan / Arshad Khan (Porsche 911)

“The car was fantastic but the notes for the second section were not great – a ditch came too early and my nephew crashed behind us. This is our second best position on the event but this year the rally and the car I’m driving are much, much quicker. The only big problem we had was getting stuck in a river for one and a half hours but we have been climbing up the field. I’m so happy that it’s over – it is a tough event.”

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

“We had a pretty good day and we had to go very fast to protect our 8th place from John Lloyd. We were eighth last time in 2009 as well but this year the drivers and the cars were a lot better and the event was a lot harder. I’m very pleased with how the Kronos Vintage cars have gone and we were the first of the Kronos team.”

20   Louis Antonini / Pierre Antonini (Porsche 911)

“We are tired. Today we did all the sections, but before that we had lots of problems. Only the gearbox of the car behaved.”

21   Jayant Shah / Lofty Drews (Datsun 260 Z)

“I had a lot of pain in the last days because one of my fingers was broken during our roll in the first half of the rally. Today was fine, it was our best day of all.”

Co-driver Lofty Drews added: “The car is now almost ready!”

22   Richard Jackson / Preston Ayres (Porsche 911)

“The first section was fine but in the second we hit a washaway very hard and broke the steering rack and control arm. We went slowly to service and fixed it and had a reasonable run on the last section.”

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

“Section two was very tough and the notes were very bad. There was a big jump and we saw it too late and put a dent in the bonnet. They were very nice sections today and a fantastic event. It lives up to its reputation as the longest and toughest!”

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

“It is a shame we lost 40 minutes on the road due to a broken TCA. So we lost a couple of places again. But we are at the finish!”

26   Marzio Kravos / Renzo Bernardi (Mercedes 450 SLC)

“We had to weld the bottom of the spring and lost thirty minutes but this Mercedes has given us very few problems.”

27   Rommy Bamrah / Harvey Jutley (Datsun 260Z)

“Today was a disaster. We broke the rear arm again in the first section. They are supposed to be unbreakable but that is obviously not true. They will now go into the sea. But we are here and we will be back in 2013.”

28   Nick Mason / Alex Horsey (Datsun 260Z)

“The Safari is never, never predictable. Nothing prepares you for this and it is a proper event. It is THE event. We had a good day and were just cruising. It’s been very different from previous years.”

29   Albert Michiels / Patrick de Coninck (Porsche 911)

“A fantastic event! We are very happy. We had no problems today. This is my fifth Safari and the fourth for my co-driver. We know that it is not possible to have no problems on this event.”

31   Jacques Walens / Thierry Lacroix (Porsche 911)

The crew went over the ramp on a tow rope: “The petrol tank started leaking after the last section and the petrol was going underneath and onto the exhaust so it was too dangerous to continue. This was a big adventure – it was my first ever rally so it was a really big adventure! Thank you to everyone.”

32   Kulwinder Sandhu / Harpal Singh Sudle (Datsun P710)

“It was a good day. We took it easy like everybody to get it back in one piece. We are happy to be here and were trying to avoid drama.”

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

“Apart from the second section we had a good day. Half way through we caught a Porsche 911 with a broken steering and we were trailing him to the finish and had to eat his dust. Otherwise I think we could have gone up a place.”

From co-driver, Norris Midwood: “The rally took over today so I didn’t see much wildlife – only a cockerel and a black hen!”

34   Jac Nellemann / Joseph Huber (Porsche 911)

“Today was super. Really nice. The last section had a bit of everything and after nine days you have a bit more confidence than before. It is hard to believe how quick the fastest drivers are.”

35   Minesh Rathod / Sachin Sumaria (Colt Lancer GSR)

“We had a lovely day although we lost the clutch in the last section and suffered some punctures. We were just taking it easy.”

37   Phillipe Vandromme / Frederic Vivier (Porsche 911)

“The tyre exploded 10 km before the end of the last section but we drove through and changed it afterwards. The rest of day we drove it cool. Tenth is a good position but amongst so many champions it is beautiful! We are very happy!”

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

“We’re happy and we had a great day with good times. The first section was quite good and we did the second section faster than when it was run on the first day. Great day, great rally, great fun!

From co-driver : “I’d like to do it all over again.”

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

“We have done everything in this Safari, we have rolled, we crashed into a zebra, we had the suspension collapse and we got stuck in the mud. So we are happy to be here. Now I don’t want to see the car for a couple of weeks.”

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

“Today was really good. We saw a lot of wildlife including a snowy owl. It was our first ever rally and we started and finished every stage. The car was running well.”

42   Josef Jobst / Uwe Kurtzenberger (Porsche 911)

“The Safari is a great event. I like it very much, despite the mud. Today we damaged the suspension at the rear left corner in section two but got it fixed in time.”

Co-driver Uwe Kurzenberger added: “This is my third Safari as a co-driver and Josef was the fastest driver of all of them.”

43   Peter Stoehr / Crispin Sassoon (Datsun 1600SSS)

“On the second section today the rear differential was really hot. When we let the oil out, the bucket and the tarpaulin were melting because it was so hot. I thought we would not make it to the finish but we did.”

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

“We had a wonderful day, we really enjoyed it. It was our first Safari and we went as fast as we could. Our support group was very helpful.”

Co-driver Johan Nel added: “I did not have this much fun since I was a teenager. It was like a dream come true.”

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

“We broke two torsion bars today and drove one full section without one. We have collected 15 minutes of penalty but we are here.”

Co-driver Klaus-Peter Kristek added: “It feels like three times Christmas in one day.”

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

“No real problem today. Twenty seconds before the start the engine cut off and then started again ten seconds before the start. There was no problem in service and it was only when we were back in parc ferme that we realised the master switch was broken.”

47   Bernhard Kessel / Ronny Kessel (Porsche 911)

“The last two days we had problems with our clutch and did not do any driving. We wanted to improve on our position but now we are even further back. But still the event was super – except for the last two days.”

48   Paolo Faldini / Nicolas Beech (Porsche 911)

“Today was excellent. The last two days were very good. We set very fast section times and yesterday even came third once. I liked the rally very much. It was challenging, exciting with a lot of variety. Incredible!”

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

“We are fine. We had a problem with the clutch today and got a 20 minutes penalty. And the air scoop in the roof blew off – luckily it was only today. It is good to be here in the end and sad that the rally does not go on.”

52   Quentin Savage / Russell Savage (Datsun 180B)

“No problems today for a change. It was an excellent day and we had a lot of fun. The second section was really nice today.”

 



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