Pressure Builds on Rally’s Longest Day

Controlling the pace today helped Stig Blomqvist retain his lead on the road, in another exciting day of rallying, which included the longest single section of the rally, at a distance of 158kms. “I took it easy,” said the seasoned rally champ who did his first East African rally in 1971. “We had some problems with the tyres yesterday so I had to be really careful.”

This meant that Goransson in car no 6 and de Mevius in car no 2 both driving Porsche 911’s sat in Blomoqvist’s dust for most of the long section on a beautiful sunny day in Tanzania. “We can’t use screamers to overtake, because we are all travelling too fast to get as close as 200m for it to activate,” said Car no 2’s navigator Nicolas Gisoul. “But we are still pleased with today.”

Despite Stig’s road lead it was Gregoire de Mevius who finished in the best time today, with a final tally of 156:28, followed by Kenya’s Carl Tundo in his Triumph TR7 in 157:55, and Goransson just a second slower at 157:56.

With tight close times, the race for the top slots is still on.

“There’s only 25 seconds between us and Car no 2 in that first section, which alone is the distance of half a full WRC rally.,” said Emil Axelsson of Car no 6, “and Stig controlled the pace from ahead. It wasn’t bad because we got the car back in one piece, which was our plan. There are still 2 days to go.”

Kenya’s Carl Tundo in Car no 5, a Triumph TR7 set the fastest speed in CS16, finishing in 83;48, a time that was 4 minutes faster than Stig’s time. He dropped to 11th place in the second section, but finished a creditable second at the end of the Day 7, leaving him in 8th place overall.

Brit Geoff Bell in his Datsun 260Z had a good day, finishing 8th on Day 7, leaving him in 4th place in the overall rankings and breaking Porsche dominance of the top 5 slots. Bernard Munster’s steady performance keeps him at fifth place in his Porsche 911.

A number of vehicles bow out of the rally. Onkar Rai, previously sitting at 5th place overall is now out following engine trouble. His brother Tejveer Rai got stuck in a mud hole having slowly rolled the car in CS16. Despite attempts by others to help it took some two hours before he was back on the road, and he dropped to 13th place overall.

Tim Chesser, car no 44, who had a tough day 6 with shredded tyres had a broken gearbox 75kms into the first section and managed to drive the remaining 60kms in third gear before getting stuck trying to avoid another car. They were unable to restart, and missed the second section, dropping to 40th place after 2 difficult days.

Car 30 Frank Tundo’s TR7 broke his steering and was also stuck in a section. Kenyan Aslam Khan Porsche was luckier. When he had an electronic failure some 20kms from the end of CS16, the gallant team in the pink Porsche driven by David von Schinkel, towed them the entire way out of the section.

In smaller incidents car 37 Connolly’s luminescent green Porsche got stuck in a mud hole and was towed out by locals, as was Bernhard Kessel in car no 45.

A few cars were didn’t start today. Car 35, the Mercedes 450SLC of NAC Rally Molgo/Domownik has pulled out although he remained determined to return another year

“We have learned a lot, and plan to come back next year with a better prepared car, rather than taking a normal car and bringing it along to do this rally.”

Likewise Car no 40 the Peugeot 504, while still in the rally, also feels this is a recce for future events. “It is more difficult than Morocco and Senegal, and we are learning from this experience how to do it better next time.”

Car no 12 Sidall/Williamson’ Datsun 260Z, opted not to start after their long stop in CS14 yesterday.

Car’s no 33, Jonathan Somen’s Ford Escort, 29, Nick Mason’s Datsun, car 26, Jayant Shah, car 52 Nish Lakhani, car 43 Ramesh Vishram, car 42 Rommy Bamrah. Car 47 Kobus Coetzee, and 32 Gilberto Sandretto were among those who had a smooth day with minimal problems.

CREW QUOTES FOR DAY 7

2 Gregoire de Mevius Nicolas Gilsoul Porsche 911
Stig was managing the section, Goransson caught him after the first section, and so we were following each other in the dust and not driving so quickly. Stig didn’t want to take any risk in this stage, which was the longest in the rally. We enjoy the 2nd and 3rd section and keep a good speed. The rally is still long, anything can happen.

3 Stig Blomqvist Stephane Prevot Porsche 911
Not a bad day. I controlled the speed on the long one, took it very easy because we had a problem with the tyres so had to be really careful.

6 Richard Goransson Emil Axelsson Porsche 911
Long sections, we did half a world rally in the first stage alone. We caught Stig quite early – he was controlling the speed for us. The third one was very rocky. There was only 25 seconds between us and de Mevius. You have to be careful on the rocks. We got back with the whole car, which was our plan.

7 Geoff Bell Tim Challen Datsun 260Z
We had a good day, a small puncture but otherwise a clean day.

10 Alastair Cavenagh Gavin Laurence Porsche 911
A good day, had to be careful with the car as it’s falling to bits. A lot of welding being done at the moment as the rear suspension was pulled out of the body yesterday so we need to keep patching it up. Our goal is to finish and get up another place or two.

14 Matthais Kahle Thomas Schunemann Datsun 260Z
Easy one today. It’s a tough race and it can be hard to drive, but we were pleased today.

16 Christer Johansson Mattias Adielsson Porsche 911
We had a great day. Didn’t even hit one stone.

21 Raaji Bharij Ranjeet Sehmi Ford Escort
Clean day for us aside from small brake failure with out 10kms to go. We thought we had fixed it, but the pipe was still leaking, so we did the last section with only front brakes. The biggest damage was on the transport back when some kid threw a rock at us and cracked the windscreen.

22 Jonathan Savage Kieran Day Datsun 260Z
Excellent day. We were on the notes. Not a single problem. When you work together everything goes well.

26 Jayant Shah Ravi Chana Porsche 911
We did OK. Not worried about our positions. As we get to Taita that will become more important but not now.

27 Paul Darrouzet Glenn Macneall Datsun 260Z
Clean day with only one puncture.

29 Nick Mason Harpal Sudle Datsun 240Z
Everything’s working, the car’s working, the navigator’s working, the drivers working, the service crews are working. Was a good day

32 Gilberto Sandretto Fabrizia Pons Porsche 911
We had a good day, took it slow in order to ensure we get to Mombasa in one piece.

33 Jonathan Somen Richard Hechle Ford Escort
Great in the first two sections and then we broke something on the steering 20km s in the last section, so we changed it, but we lost time.

34 Ondrej Coufal Roman Madera Datsun 240Z

36 Aslam Khan Arshad Khan Porsche 911
We had an electrical problem in the first stage. Luckily we were towed out by the pink Porsche. It was 20kms to the finish and they pulled us out.

37 Simon Connolly Francis Connolly Porsche 911
We were fine aside from getting stuck in the only bit of mud and having to be towed out by some locals.

38 Samit Gehlot Asit Patel Ford Escort
Lost steering in the third section but we managed to get out, so no penalties there. Lost a bit of time though.

40 Francois Lethier Arnaud Debron Peugeot 504
We are fine until 88kms and then trouble with the drive and timing. No big mechanical problems. WE have done Morocco and Senegal, and done very well, but this one is much more difficult. We are learning for our next time.

41 Tejveer S. Rai Zahir Shah Porsche 911
Not a good day. We got stuck in a mud hole and couldn’t’ get out. Stuck there for 2 hours. It’s heart breaking. Eventually some locals helped and it took two cars to pull us out.

42 Rommy Bamrah Harvey Jutley Datsun 240Z
No dust. We had a good day

43 Ramesh Vishram Rohit Bhudia Ford Escort Mk11
No problems today aside from losing brakes in the last section, but we took it easy for the last 10kms. The long section was very fast.

44 Arron Banks Tim Chesser Ford Escort
75kms into CS16 our gearbox went and we managed to get the car here by driving in third gear, but then 7kms before the end we got stuck and the car wouldn’t start, so we had to be pulled out. And we had a puncture. We missed the second section.

48 Kailesh Chauhan Simon Phillips Ford Escort Mk11
Stage 1 we got stuck but managed to get ourselves out. We went further on and saw Tejveer stuck really badly and lost another 15 minutes there, but other than that stages were good.

50 Kishan Bhanderi Tim Mammen Datsun 1600S
We haven’t had a clutch all day, but better than yesterday when we had no exhaust or intercom. Without the clutch we cant go above 5000rpm, and we need to go 8000rpm.

51 Dinesh Sachania Tinu Khan Datsun 180B
We had two punctures. But it’s very good as it reminds me of old days. This is my first classic, but I used to do the safari rally years ago, so good memories.

52 Nish Lakhani Teeku Patel Datsun SSS 1800
Clean day again. Sections were really fast. Except the last one is rocky. We are pleased to have 2 clean days. Hoping for 2 more.