Changes and unexpected drama dominated the first day of the rally starting with a late night bulletin cancelling the third leg – section CS3 due to route deterioration and a submerged bridge.
This did little to diminish the action on the two remaining legs. An early dampness on the road quickly dried off in the sun on Stage One and there was some changes in car order through the section with Geoff Bell moving up from his seventh place start to the lead in his Datsun 260Z. Second seeded Stig Blomqvist dropped to fifth place at the end of the first section in his Porsche 911, while other Porsches no 6 Richard Goransson and 10th starter Alistair Cavenagh took second and third place, with completion times of just over 30 minutes. Worth mention was car 46, the Ford Escort Mk 1 of Wissanji/Verjee who started last, but made their way to 11th place by the end of the first Stage.
Not all went smoothly however. Roger Samuelsson in car no 18, an orange Porsche 911 was the first to head off-road, rolling his vehicle, early into Stage One. His car, while damaged, has been judged fit to return to rally once repaired, although he has not made a decision as yet as to what to do.
Less fortunate was car no 11, the Ford Escort of John Lloyd and Adrian Cavenagh who also rolled in Stage Two, cracking the oil tank, which meant they were not able to restart their Ford and had to abandon the rally. Car no 4 Gerard Marcy and Eric Gressens in their Porsche 911 also exited after their car rolled in the second stage, and await a decision as to whether they can continue.
In further second stage incidents, Stage One leader Geoff Bell’s Datsun suffered mechanical failure. Borrowing a fire extinguisher from Car 21 (Bharij and Sehmi), they worked to extinguish the fire, but were unable to get themselves back into the rally. Car no 29, the Datsun 240Z driven by Nick Mason didn’t complete following an incident early into the stage. He has yet to decide if he will continue.
For the cars that remained, the Second Stage proved to be tremendously tough, with many vehicles getting trapped in the 800-meter long section of road that turned into a mud bath. High water levels meant that by the time later rally cars came through the area, the water was almost windscreen high. Enterprising locals gathered at the spot to push out stuck cars, along with the rally tow truck, but a jam developed with numerous cars suffering some sort of mechanical issue as a result of the water. Frank Tundo in his Triumph, covered his car with a sort of waterproofing cloth but also stalled. Jorge Perez Companc had a floating piece of wood caught in his wheel but was able to get through the water. Others were less fortunate and had to turn back.
In all, 32 cars completed the day, out of the 50 that started this morning. Leader by the end of Stage Two was Kenya’s Alistair Cavenagh (pic) in a Tuthill Porsche 911 with a time of 1 hour 36 minutes, followed by Stig Blomqvist who recovered in the second section to end up in second place, with Richard Goransson in third, ensuring that Porsche 911s dominated the leader board.
Quotes from the Crews:
8: Onkar Singh Rai/Baldev Chager – Porsche 911
We got stuck like a lot of people in the muddy area, and had to be pushed out by locals, but otherwise it wasn’t a bad day.
9: Bernard Munster/Johan Gitsels – Porsche 911
Not so good. We broke a rear arm so had to drive the whole stage with a broken arm and lost at least an hour. We got through the waterlogged section with help.
10: Alastair Cavenagh/Gavin Laurence – Porsche 911
We had a pretty smooth run all the way through. It’s been a pretty good day.
22: Jonathan Savage/Kieran Day – Datsun 260Z
I had two plugs come off and then the steering nut, so I had to push the steering wheel in, for it to catch and work. Then the intercom didn’t work on the first stage. So it started as a disaster, but then our second stage was better.
21: Raaji Bharij/Ranjeet Sehmi – Ford Escort
We were running great especially in the first stage except the small early problem when everything died. It turned out to be a coil wire which had broken so we re-wired that. At CS2 we caught the car in front, but then had to wait for a tow after getting stuck. Some guys pushed us out because we didn’t manage to get a vehicular tow. We were there for at least 25 minutes.
23: Jorge Perez Companc/Jose Volta – Ford Escort RS 1800
Stage 1 was perfect, as was stage 2 until the water. We tried to take the right side of the waterlogged track, but then a piece of wood got caught on the right wheel. We managed to lever it out, and then I took it easy because of a lot of cars had got stuck.
24: Steve Troman/Calvin Cooledge – Porsche 911
We got trapped in the water and were towed out. Otherwise all else went smooth with the car.
26: Jayant Shah/Ravi Chana – Porsche 911
We got hit in the back of our Porsche while at the water, which has caused some damage and Jayant got knocked over in the incident and hurt his hand. The rest of the day has been fine before then.
27: Paul Darrouzet/Glenn Macneall – Datsun 260Z
The windscreen washer bottle decided to pump itself, and the wipers wouldn’t work, so had to just drive through until the bottle ran out of water.
28: Marzio Kravos/Crispin Sassoon – Ferrari
The water came up to the windscreen as we went through the water, so we also stopped, but we borrowed a Landover and they towed us through. The rest of the day smoothly – see a Ferrari isn’t just a shopping car
30: Frank Tundo/Natasha Tundo – Triumph TR7 V8
Bent the wheel after a prang. In the 2nd stage we caught up with Porsches and hit them round a blind corner. We also had some trouble with our fuel pump in the first stage.
32: Gilberto Sandretto/Fabrizia Pons – Porsche 911
We were stuck in the wet areas behind several cars we couldn’t pass. First stage was good though
33: Jonathan Somen/Richard Hechle – Ford Escort
We broke the shock and got a puncture in the first stage, but it wasn’t too hard to sort that out. Then we got to the mud hole in the second stage and lost at least 35 minutes there.
36: Aslam Khan/Arshad Khan – Porsche 911
With the rains a lot of new ruts have come up. We got stuck in the mud hole and then the car wouldn’t start. Right towards the end of the stage about 10kms out, the shock absorber body came through the car. The car was shaking as though it would fall apart. So we limped out of the end of the stage at 10kms an hour.
38: Samit Gehlot/Asit Patel – Ford Escort
We got stuck, like a lot of people on that muddy section and got a batch of locals to push us out. We had water in the car almost to our knees
46: Karim Wissanji/Mo Verjee – Ford Escort Mk1
We did very well in the first stage, especially considering our position starting last. We ended up at 11th place, but the second stage and the waterlogged road completely ruined our placement
52: Nish Lakhani/Teeku Patel – Datsun SSS 1800
We had to turn around at the muddy section of road at Stage 2 because the water by this time was too high, and we had already waited 90 minutes, which meant we would be time barred.