Safari Classic 2015: The Stage is Set

With the curtain about to go up on the 2015 Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic Rally, behind the scenes the organizing team that will run this famous event is now in top gear.

With less than a fortnight remaining for the event to officially kick off, the Event Manager, Ashok Bhalla, met all of the team’s group leaders on Sunday for a final briefing. He commented afterwards: “I am happy with my team that comprises over one hundred and fifty people from both Kenya and Tanzania. They have collected all their equipment from us including the timing clocks, control boards and other branding materials which will play a major role in running the rally over the nine-day period.”.

Meanwhile, a new seeding system has been put in place to help drivers re-position themselves in case of any mechanical problems that might have slowed their progress during the competition. Normally such problems could cause them to fall right back down the entry at the daily re-start based on the previous day’s results and they could thus be running behind many slower cars that would be difficult to pass in dusty conditions.

Speaking from his office in South Africa, the Clerk of the Course for the Safari Classic and himself an experienced rally competitor, Richard Leeke, said that the new scheme has been created to provide a level playing field and fair deal for those who may lose their original starting positions due to unforeseen circumstances. He said; “It is designed to stop protracted negotiation during the event regarding reseeding. The initial start list will be split into five groups and any reseeding will be done within the groups based on the end of day results. If a competitor has a problem during the day, then he cannot fall out of his group. In addition, if a competitor improves his performance within the daily results then he could, in the interest of safety, move into the group ahead.”

The Safari Classic organisers took the opportunity of the briefing to express their gratitude to the number of additional sponsors that have come on board to support this Kenya Airways event. Ashok Bhalla said: “Copy Cat, which has been supporting the rally since 2005, will provide us with photocopying services throughout the competition both in Kenya and Tanzania. In addition, they will providing all of the name-tags for drivers, officials, press, and the members of the service crews and sponsors. Furthermore Shell Kenya will provide the team with fuel vouchers worth over Kshs.1m ($10,000).”

Other sponsors of the Safari Classic include Access Kenya, Kabarnet-Natural Drinking Water and Kenya Wildlife Services.

The rally will start from Mombasa on November 19th with a loop of competitive sections finishing back the Whitesands Hotel before spreading its wings to travel to Tanzania through Amboseli and the border post of Namanga. In Tanzania it visits Lake Manyara and Arusha and then goes back to Mombasa via the border post at Taveta. The whole event will be about 3,331 kilometres (2,070 miles) long spread over a period of nine days in both in Kenya and Tanzania. Of that mileage, there are twenty-four competitive sections within it that will largely decide the result since the liaison sections between them are driven in time with no penalty under normal circumstances. Eighty per cent of the roads used for the competitive sections are new to the rally and they will total some 2,000 kilometres (1,242 miles).

Twice winner of the rally and one of the biggest names in the history of the Kenya National Rally Championship, Ian Duncan, will head the list of fifty-seven starters in his Ford Capri 3100. Starting immediately behind him will be two Porsche 911s driven by previous FIA Rally Champions, Gregoire de Mevius from Belgium and Stig Blomqvist from Sweden.