Already 49 confirmed entries have been received for the sixty places available on the starting list for the 2015 East African Safari Classic Rally. With a new route covering some 4,000 kilometres (2,485 miles) in Kenya and Tanzania and sponsorship maintained by Kenya Airways, the World’s Greatest Rally is proving ever more attractive to drivers who want to experience the best adventure that rallying has to offer.
Tough and demanding conditions are part of the DNA of the East African Safari but the new route has been conceived to be at one and the same time less damaging and more user-friendly. There is a reduction in long liaison sections and more competitive sections of which the longest is now 184 kilometres (114 miles), more than half the total competitive mileage of a World Championship Rally.
Perhaps the most amazing – and appealing – aspect of the Safari Classic is that while the cars and competitors spend their days dealing with the demands and hazards of East African roads amid dust, dirt, mud and floods (depending on the weather), each night is spent in a luxury hotel or game lodge far removed from the ardours of the day. And the new route brings new hotels and lodges into play while not ignoring some old favourites.
New Rally Route for 2015
Starting outside Mombasa at the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort & Spa, the first day of competition is a loop that goes up to Malindi and back. The second day takes the rally into the Amboseli National Park with its famous lodges and views of Mount Kilimanjaro. The third day utilises a loop out from Amboseli so that the rally will spend a second night among its wild animals.
On the fourth day, the rally skirts Kilimanjaro and enters Tanzania to spend two nights at Lake Manyara. Ernest Hemingway claimed that this was the loveliest lake in Africa. The rest day here should give the rally crews a chance to see the local sights while the mechanics service the rally cars. Local attractions include lions that climb trees and sleep in the branches, and the famous Ngorogoro crater, 610 metres (2,000 feet) deep and 260 square kilometres (100 square miles) in area.
On leaving Lake Manyara, the rally heads to the Tanzanian city of Arusha for a two-night stay with the sixth day of rallying then taking place as a loop based on Arusha. From here, the rally plunges into the Pare Mountains to the southeast of Kilimanjaro, before crossing back into Kenya to spend a night in the shadow of the Taita Hills. The final day sees the rally head back to base at Whitesands on the Indian Ocean while avoiding the traffic on the main Nairobi-Mombasa road.
“We held two debriefs with the competitors last year, one in Kenya and one in London.” says Rally Director, Raju Kishinani. “Our intention was to find out what was good about our rally and what could be improved. The result is the event that we have planned for November 2015. This will retain the toughness of a traditional Safari Rally so that to win will still be an heroic achievement and worthy of the rally champions whose names are inscribed on its record book. Having consecutive nights at most of the chosen hotels reduces the liaison mileage for both competitors and service crews. We think this is a format that will appeal widely – as is shown by the healthy state of our entry list with another year to go before the start.”
His fellow director of the company responsible for organising the Safari Classic is J.S.Vohra who, after receiving reports from the route surveys that have been done, said : ”I promised everyone at the debriefs earlier this year that we would have a new route for 2015 with new roads and improved driving conditions. From the information coming in to me, we are definitely achieving those objectives and are on target to deliver a really great and pleasurable rally in 2015.”
With the entry growing so rapidly, and only a dozen or so places on the entry list still to fill, competitors who have the intention to enter are strongly recommended to get their name down or risk missing what is billed as “The World’s Greatest Rally”. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your rally plans.