Held every November in the UK, the Roger Albert Clark Rally is a homage to the original RAC (Royal Automobile Club) Rally that counted for the World Rally Championship up until 2002. In that respect, it is similar to the East African Safari Classic Rally that recreates the challenge and atmosphere of the original East African Safari, also last held in 2002 when it too counted for the WRC. Both events cater for older, classic cars and both find that their popularity is increasing.
The entry list for this year’s R.A.C. Rally contained five of the entrants who have already committed to doing the Safari Classic in November 2015. All showed that they are a force to be reckoned with, as much on the forestry tracks of northeast England as on the murram tracks of East Africa.
Heading the list were two Porsche 911s in Safari trim entered by BMA Autosport from Belgium for Bernard Munster and Gregoire de Mevius. Munster had to retire just before halfway when a rocker arm broke in his engine. However, de Mevius, after a lengthy excursion on a fog-bound third stage, worked his way up the field to finish fourth overall and win his class.
Andrew Siddall left his Safari Datsun 260Z at home and had an outing with his Ford Escort Mk2 RS1600 in which he battled with fellow Safari entrant, Mark Bentley’s Escort Mk2 RS1800 right up to the last stage. Victory went to Siddall by just twenty-eight seconds and gave him eleventh place overall with Bentley twelfth.
The other Safari entrants competing were Jan and Martin Hagman from Sweden in a Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800 similar to the Viking Escort that they will use on the Safari Classic. This Escort was prepared in Sweden and has been used by the Hagmans now for some four years on gravel rallies but Viking were out to help service it during the rally. The mud and fog encountered were, Hagman admits, very different from what they were used to in Sweden but they came through to finish sixteenth overall and with more experience in case the Safari Classic turns out to be a wet one as in 2011.