Day 6 EASR 2013: The Battle Continues

On the sixth day of this epic rally, the battle between local rally hero Ian Duncan and former World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist continued on the East African Safari Classic Rally. The Kenyan crew have re-taken the lead they had after day three in their Ford Capri and are now 2 minutes 44 seconds ahead of Blomqvist in a Race4Health Porsche 911 on a day that brought rain for some but not all crews.

Blomqvist left Amboseli leading the rally but promptly fell behind Kenyan driver Duncan on the first section of the day. Well, promptly might not be the best description since this section was 110 km long – a pretty average section length on this endurance rally. Duncan set fastest time by a minute from Blomqvist, giving him a lead of just ten seconds over the Swedish crew. After suffering driveshaft problems on day four and dropping down the leader board to fifteenth place, Gregoire de Mevius was still driving hard and set third fastest time in his BMA Porsche 911, whilst Gérard Marcy continued to post consistent times and remained in third place but over fourteen minutes behind the top two.

This long first section proved problematic for the top Datsun cars. Geoff Bell lost over half an hour in his Amigos 260Z when his fan stopped working and the car overheated, giving his well-earned fourth place to team mate Steve Perez, who was now twenty minutes behind Marcy in the overall rankings.  Bell and co-driver Challen stopped to re-wire the Datsun’s fan and were kindly donated water by de Mevius, Perez and the Horseys, as well as the local Masai. The other Amigos Datsun 260Z of Andrew Siddal encountered problems in this section, apparently breaking a driveshaft flange and having to wait to be towed out of the section. Meanwhile the Kenyan father-and-son crew of David and Alex Horsey moved up into fifth in their Tuthill prepared Porsche 911. The Kenyan crew of Onkar Rai and Baldev Chager had incurred penalties for late check-in after yesterday’s service to parc fermé so they had dropped down the field but, with Chager behind the wheel, set sixth fastest time on this long section.

Unfortunately rain hit this section later in the day and many of the crews further down the field encountered rain and muddy going. For the last cars in the rally convoy, they found bad mud conditions and some had to turn around to exit the section back to the start.

Duncan managed to extend his lead over Blomqvist to over a minute on the fifty kilometre second competitive section south of Nairobi that started from Kajiado Town by setting fastest time on this section. Clearly Bell’s setback on the first section had fired up his own cylinders as he set joint fastest time on this section with Duncan. Marcy remained in third with a substantial gap to fourth placed Steve Perez in his Datsun 260Z. However, close on Perez’s heels were the Horseys in their Porsche 911 only two minutes behind. Third fastest time on this second section was set by Kenyan crew Cavenagh and Tundo in their Viking Ford Escort. They have been plagued by problems throughout this eight-day rally but were still driving hard. Their Viking team mate, John Lloyd had moved up to sixth place by setting consistent times and pulling ahead of the Kronos Vintage Porsche 911 of Phillippe Vandromme.

The final sixty kilometre section of the day ran around the back of the Ngong Hills and past the Suswa volcano. Fastest time on this section was clocked by Geoff Bell again, despite getting caught behind the Horseys who were down on power throughout the section. Perhaps it was the sight of Bjorn Waldegård, now spectating, who gave the Datsun crew the thumbs up that provided that little bit of extra motivation. Duncan set second fastest time but over a minute slower than Bell whilst Blomqvist met some traffic in the last section and put in the fourth fastest time.  Cavenagh and Tundo set another third fastest time  on this section. They had a relatively clean run today, although they did confess that in today’s first section they had a brief stop in the same mud hole and against the same tree where they had met problems two days earlier on the rally.

This gave Duncan’s Capri a lead of 2 minutes 44 seconds at the end of the day over Blomqvist’s Porsche 911 with Marcy about 17 minutes behind the Swedish crew in third place in a Porsche 911. There is another wide 22 minutes gap to fourth placed Perez’s Datsun 260Z. The Kenyan crew of David and Alex Horsey have continued to swap driving in a Porsche 911 and the strategy seems to be working as they are now in fifth place just behind Perez. Despite a few hiccups in the first section of the day (see quotes below), John Lloyd is in a well-earned sixth place in a Ford Escort.

Tomorrow’s route takes the crews on a loop centred on Naivasha with four sections. They start with a new section for the rally run in Kedong Ranch that is also run as the last section of the day. The second section from Suswa has been cancelled and the third Soysambu section is contained within the Delamere ranch.

Quotes from the top six crews

Car no. 3   Ian Duncan/Amaar Slatch, Ford Capri V8 Perana

It must be good – we’re still on four tyres and they’re still black and round! For the last 10 km of the last section we met some trucks and farm vehicles on the road but there’s no problem with the car.

Car no. 5   Stig Blomqvist/Staffan Parmander, Porsche 911

We had to stop for trucks in the last section and there was a big heavy transporter – I thought we were on the main road between Nakuru and Nairobi! There was no damage to the car but there is still some brake knock off.

Car no. 6    Gérard Marcy/Stéphané Prevot, Porsche 911

We’re just going gently and keeping our position. In the first section it was very slippery and there were some dangerous parts but we’re happy and will keep going at this pace. Maybe next time we’ll see if we change anything!

Car no. 7   Steve Perez/John Millington, Datsun 260Z

We managed to hit a small tree on John’s side on the first section – it was very slippery and we had to drive cautiously. But on the last section we had to push harder as the Horseys are close behind.

Car no. 8    David Horsey / Alex Horsey, Porsche 911

David drove the first section and Alex drove the second and third. The first was very slippery and wet and the second section was a classic Kenyan rally section so it was very enjoyable. In the last section they’d fixed the road for the first part but after that it was rough. We were down on power in the last section – we think it’s the fuel injection timer belt but hopefully we’ll get it sorted tonight.

Car no. 11    John Lloyd, Gavin Laurence,  Ford Escort RS1800

There was bad rain when we were in the first section and unfortunately we hit an impala 20km from the start and both the animal and our roo bar disappeared together. We were worried it might have damaged the radiator and that the engine would overheat but it didn’t happen. However the right wing is very crumpled.