Poland’s favourite historic rally squad, the NAC Rally team, have shared pictures of their Mercedes 350 SLC Safari Rally challenger heading for Kenya. Replacing the 450 SLC (below) driven by Pawel Molgo and Piotr Domownik on the 2015 Safari Classic, the 350 comes with one important advantage for rallying over its big brother: a manual transmission.
“We have remained true to the Mercedes brand, which has had many successes in marathon rallies,” says Pawel. “However, we felt that the manual transmission was more suited to us, and since the cars participating in the competition had to comply with FIA homologation, we were forced to downsize our engine to go to a manual.
“Downsizing the engine is not a big issue. The 350’s V8 has similar power to its predecessor and, of course, the engine has been carefully stripped and rebuilt, with spec including forged pistons. We have carried over the suspension and roll cage from the previous car and also lost quite a lot of weight, including removing the superfluous air conditioning from 2015. We improved the cabin, and we enjoy the lower weight of the car!
“Although Piotr and I are born off-roaders, the difficulties we experienced in the previous edition of the East African Safari Classic Rally really surprised us,” notes the NAC rally team leader. “The rally was as demanding as the most famous cross-country marathons, and our car was perhaps not best suited to the difficulties. I am sure we are now much better prepared and the equipment will not disappoint us. Our goal for the 2017 Safari Classic Rally is to vanquish the disappointments of our last attempt and to finish as high as possible in the final classification.”
Thanks to Mariusz Bodnar and Arek Kwiecien at terenowo.pl for their original story and permission to share.