Early Going in the 2013 Safari Classic Rally

With the first three places occupied by Swedish and Kenyan drivers and with four different types of car filling the first ten places overall, the Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic Rally 2013 is not turning out to be dominated by any one nationality or make of car. Indeed with the majority of the top runners commenting on the differences of nature between the three competitive sections run today, the rally would appear to have a very varied make-up.

With so many Porsche 911s entered, the winning model from 2011, it was suspected that they would run away with things and it has to be admitted that there are five of the Stuttgart-manufactured cars in the top ten. And one of those is leading outright – and it is driven by a Swede. But this is not the winner of the 2011 Safari Classic, Björn Waldegård, but his compatriot and fellow ex-World Rally Champion, Stig Blomqvist. By winning in 2011 – and incidentally also in 2007 in a Ford Escort – Waldegård was allotted number one and seeded to start first on the road. This proved to be a disadvantage as he encountered various obstacles in the course of the first section – cows and the occasional motor cycle – and consequently had to drive cautiously recording a time that was only sixth fastest on a section where Blomqvist was fastest overall. Both are driving Tuthill prepared Porsches.

Second overall and looking quietly confident that there is more to come is the multiple Kenyan Rally Champion, Ian Duncan. His Ford Capri 3-litre that he is sharing with Amaar Slatch, the co-driver with whom he won the Safari Classic of 2009 in a Ford Mustang, was looking untroubled and had shown itself to be a model of consistency by taking third fastest time on all three stages. Kenya is also well represented by Alistair Cavenagh and Carl Tundo who have their Viking-prepared Ford Escort Mk2 1800 in fifth place. Sixth is another Porsche, this one from Kronos Vintage in Belgium and driven by Gregoire de Mevius.

The three Datsun 260Zs of the Kick Energy Team and prepared by BTR are all in the top ten with South African, Geoff Bell, heading them in seventh position with Andrew Siddall and Steve Perez rounding out the top ten in ninth and tenth respectively.
One of the revelations of the rally so far has been the BMA Porsche 911 of Bernard Munster who, after taking things perhaps too cautiously from the start, recorded fastest time on the second stage and now lies eighth overall on his first attempt at the Safari Classic. His remark on stepping from his car at the time control at Taita Hills Lodge was that “Today, I have driven more competitive kilometres than I would in an entire European Rally”.

The Safari Classic continues tomorrow with two more competitive sections in Kenya before crossing into Tanzania for two days of action before returning to Kenya for another four days of rallying that will finish back in Mombasa on Friday next.

Quotes from top three crews

Car no. 5, Stig Blomqvist /Staffan Parmander, Porsche 911
No problems for us – and I think we are hitting the right speed. But it IS hot in the car ….

Car no 3, Ian Duncan/Amaar Slatch, Ford Capri
Well, we are here ! Arriving at the end of the first day always makes you feel better. Of course it is hot in the Capri with the engine up front and the exhausts underneath us, but rally cars in Africa are hot places anyway. We had a puncture near the end of the first section but drove out on it.

Car no. 1, Björn Waldegård/Mathias Waldegård, Porsche 911
We had to be careful on the first stage. Although the Zero car had gone through an hour or so before, we had to dodge quite a lot of non-competing vehicles and particularly cows – who of course did not understand about the rally, through they do now ! And we had a few cows on the quick stage through the sisal. But the car is going well and it is a long way yet.