Stig Blomqvist wins the Safari Classic Rally

It was a Swede dominated podium, as rally car ace Stig Blomqvist navigated by Stephane Prevot in car no 3 was this year’s winner of the East African Safari Classic, only the second rally he has won in Africa. Congratulated by his son on twitter for fulfilling his “long held dream,” the veteran driver admitted that this year’s event had been particularly hard. “The safari really is never easy,” he said, adding “although today we knew we had a decent lead.”

He was followed by his Team Tido teammate, and professional touring car driver Richard Goransson, with Emil Axelsson in car no 6 who closely tailed Blomqvist by a few minutes throughout each day, until today when they suffered a series of setbacks that left them 8 minutes behind.  Dropping from their regular second placing out of the top ten in all stages, Goransson said. “We had an eventful last day. On the way to the first stage the trip meter broke down, then the door wouldn’t lock, so had to drive the first section with it open. We had a slow puncture too.  In the 2nd stage we got stuck in a mud hole, and in the 3rd the gearbox broke so we only had fourth gear, so many challenges. We are very pleased with the result for my second attempt at this event.”

There was plenty of exciting rallying action on the final day of the East African Safari Classic, as cars headed from Taita  Hills back to Mombasa Taking in iconic section that twists down into the Taita Hills, a fast midsection, and the rough tough Samuburu to Kasava 2 there was a bit of everything in today’s rallying.

The first Kenyan on the podium was car no 10 Alistair Cavanagh/Gavin Laurence, who came in 4th place. “It was a good result given the problems we have had,” he said. “We had to nurse the car for two days, so it’s as good as can be. We have to start preparing for 2017 now!”

Bernard Munster in car no 9 who came in 5th was very pleased with his result, especially since he towed his BMA teammate Gregoire de Mevius 17kms out of CS19 section on Day 8 after de Mevius hit a spectator’s car. “He broke his drive shaft and his wheel was bent so we towed him  to the end of the stage. We did it fast enough so we could keep our place – we went 80kms an hour over the jumps and everything with him behind on the towrope. I knew I couldn’t lose too much time as Cavanagh was behind me on the road, but didn’t want to leave de Mevius behind.” Said Munster. As a result of their quick exit De Mevius/Gisoul’s Porsche retained their 3rd place.

Next on the ramp was the only non-Porsche in the top 10, owned and navigated by Ranjeet Sehmi and driven by Raaji Bharij, which took 6th place. “We had a great rally, we didn’t have even a single puncture. The only stoppages were due to mud during the whole rally. Day six we were fourth overall, and we have set some reasonably good times. We are top of our class, and the only non Porsche in the top 10,” said Sehmi, as Bhariji did a victory whoop on top of the car.

Tanzanian veteran car no 26, a distinctive yellow Porsche  driven by Jayant Shah/Ravi Chana, who drove a consistent steady rally took 7th place at the ripe age of 75. Tuthill Porsche’s Richard Jackson/Ryan Champion and Steve Troman/Calvin Cooledge took 8th and 9th

Said Richard Jackson; “We were fastest on the second stage and set some good times. Ryan drove particularly well and we would have been in the frame if we hadn’t had that distributor problem on Day 6. That brought us to a standstill across an 80k stage and we had to wait to be rescued. We pulled ourselves back and are pleased to be in the top 10.”

Final place in the top 10 went to Viking Motorsport’s Jan Hagman/Philip Clarke in car no 20. “That’s awesome,” said Clarke, “Its all about nice and steady and no mistakes. We had 3 punctures, 2 we changed, and one we ran on. We didn’t do anything stupid, and here we are.”

As ever there were casualties during the day, in this the rally that to date has had the most breakdowns and incidents. Car 30 of Frank limped out of the final stage behind the highly popular Trabant of Michael Kahlfuss, with its two-stroke engine and thin body. Most expected it would not complete the rally.

And Aslam Khan, car 36, had a lapse of concentration that saw him go over the edge of a culvert, teetering suspended on his front two wheels. As they were towed forward, they ended up rolling, an incident that took them to 33rd place today from 17th place in Day 8’s overall tally. “It was ridiculous, only 6kms from the finish and it took another 30 minutes to get it out. Brain failure after all these long and hard days,” said Khan.

Car 17 Roman/Fornander was towed on the main road, Samit Gehlot of car 38 drove the last 130kms on one gear, and  car 33 of Somen/Hechle lost its distributor cap and were helped by the Connollys in the green Porsche. “We were given a tow out of the first section, then had a problem again the 2nd section. But we got ourselves here, so the unfinished business of two years ago is finished, even if we aren’t quite where we would have liked to be.”

And Roger Samuelsson drove a series of fast day 9 times including a 2nd fastest in the first section CS22 finished in 41st place after his day 1 crash. “We are the fastest drivers in the worst position,” he laughed.

Car no 47 Coetzee/Pollen’s Ford Escort who rolled spectacularly yesterday in the final section returned by plane from the hospital this morning to watch the podium call and prize giving.

In total 46 cars finished the rally. In order to qualify as completing you need to have completed four days of the eight days of the rally.

2       Gregoire de Mevius          Nicolas Gilsoul                     Porsche 911
We didn’t push hard because there was such a big gap after losing 10 minutes on the accident. But we ended up close against to Goransson, we had a puncture in the last section. First time I did the rally without any penalty I did all the sections without having to be towed, so pleased with that.

3       Stig Blomqvist                   Stephane Prevot                Porsche 911
Safari is never easy. Today was quite an easy day, we knew we had enough of a lead. Yesterday  there was a lot of traffic and we were the first car on the road is always a bit difficult. Was a guy who wanted to turn right and I was overtaking. This rally has been quite rough. A bit of rain and a bit of everything.

5       Carl Tundo                        Tim Jessop                          Triumph TR7 V8
Today was good. We set the fastest time in the penultimate, so the car has proved itself and now we need to improve it. This is my first time here as a driver, so that’s also a great feeling and now I have more of an idea. Highlight was the fastest time on the longest section.

6       Richard Goransson           Emil Axelsson                     Porsche 911
We had an event filled last day. On the way to the first stage the trip meter broke down, then and the door wouldn’t lock, so had to drive the first section with it open. We had a slow puncture too. 2nd stage got stuck in a mud hole, 3rd gearbox broke so we only had fourth gear. A good result for my second attempt at this event.”

7       Geoff Bell                           Tim Challen                        Datsun 260Z
We broke the swing arm and crawled out of the section and then broke the other side yesterday so today’s fantastic run was great. This rally gets faster and stronger with each year. We had a good time.

9       Bernard Munster             Johan Gitsels                       Porsche 911
No major problems, we were cruising and keeping our fourth place safe. Its great to have three cars at the finish. We helped Gregoire yesterday – towed him out when he broke his drive shaft and his wheel was bent. For 17kms, we did it fast enough so we could keep our place – we went 80kms an hour over the jumps and everything. I couldn’t lose too much time as Cavanagh was behind me. It was tough but a really good result.

10     Alastair Cavenagh            Gavin Laurence                  Porsche 911
We got in. And considering all that has happened it’s as good as it can be. Would have been a bit closer to podium but had to take it really easy for two days, Have to wait now for another two years.

14     Matthais Kahle                 Thomas Schunemann        Datsun 260Z
It was really hot in the car and the road was hard, especially for the last day. Pain in my arms from the shaking, but we finished without problems and that’s the best. My biggest memory was from  the first day of being so deep in the water that we were inside the car, sitting hip high in water – that stands out as a memory from this rally.

15     David von Schinkel          Per Bjorkman                     Porsche 911
Today was good. Nothing special. Car worked well. People asked us to tow, which was a bit weird. Four cars that had broken down, but we felt we had done our civic duty.

16     Christer Johansson          Mattias Adielsson               Porsche 911
Today was pretty good. Nothing happened but the last stage was very bumpy, so we were hearing more and more noise with it. We have driven without brakes, on three wheels, we have done everything except rolling. We are so happy to have finished. The triumph is all the better because of all the drama we have experienced.

18     Roger Samuelsson            Robin Friberg                     Porsche 911
We are the fastest drivers with the worst position – second last. Fifth overall yesterday. I enjoy the driving rather than crashing over stones, so today was like that for the most part.

20     Jan Hagman                      Philip Clarke                       Ford Escort RS 1800
Our day was good. That’s awesome and its all about nice and steady and no mistakes. We had 3 punctures, 2 we changed, one we ran on. We didn’t’ do anything stupid, and here we are.

21     Raaji Bharij                       Ranjeet Sehmi                    Ford Escort
We want to try to see if there is anything else we can do to the escort . We don’t want to go out and get a Porsche as it would kill the whole spirit of what we do. So we need to make the Escort go better.

22     Jonathan Savage              Kieran Day                          Datsun 260Z
It was quite rough today, but then a really nice flowing finish until the last 25kms. Yesterday we were lucky when we missed a triple caution yesterday. I must say that if you help someone in the middle of nowhere and you mutually agree then you should get your time back. Otherwise it’s a disincentive to helping others who are stuck.

23     Jorge Perez Companc      Jose Volta                            Ford Escort RS 1800
Unbelievable, we are here. 2nd day I rolled and they repaired. 3rd day I overheated and still we kept going. It’s a very tough race. This one was harder than last edition. Some stages were even tougher than Dakar. So we are pleased to have finished.

24     Steve Troman                   Calvin Cooledge                  Porsche 911
Nerve wracking because we had Richard Jackson chasing us, so we had to hold our place. Love this safari and its atmosphere. There’s always something going on, competitors and spectator wise. It’s just fabulous.

25     Richard Jackson               Ryan Champion                  Porsche 911
We were fastest on the second stage, Ryan drove particular well. We had a great day, we would have been in the frame if we hadn’t had that distributor problem on Day 6. We have had top runs but that failure was unfortunate because it brought us to a standstill across an 80k stage and we had to wait to be rescued. We pulled ourselves back and are pleased to be in the top 10

26     Jayant Shah                      Ravi Chana                          Porsche 911
All went fine and I am very happy. Car went fine. We have had a smooth rally and our happy with our placement.

27     Paul Darrouzet                 Glenn Macneall                   Datsun 260Z
Today was a pretty good day. A lot to do, quite technical today. The rougher stuff was a bit tedious. Nice to have done it. Did it in 2007 and my car broke in half so I couldn’t. So good to finish. Our lowest point was losing a couple of bolts in section 11 and had to sit waiting for six hours to be rescued. That took us form 17th to last as we took big penalties. So, in all I am pleased to have finished.

33     Jonathan Somen               Richard Hechle                   Ford Escort
“We were helped out of the first section then had a problem again the 2nd section. But we got ourselves here, so the unfinished business of two years ago is finished, even if we aren’t quite where we would have liked to be.”

36       Aslam Khan                      Arshad Khan                      Porsche 911
It was ridiculous, only 6kms from the finish and it took another 30 minutes to get it out. Brain failure after all these long and hard days.”

38     Samit Gehlot                     Asit Patel                             Ford Escort
Only had one gear for the last 130kms so we feel lucky and happy to be there. We’ve raised almost 5 million shillings for our charity, so very happy.

41     Tejveer S. Rai                    Zahir Shah                          Porsche 911
Quite an eventful last day. We caught the car in front of us, so that slowed us down. Then we hit the washaway very hard and bent the steering but managed to make it out of the section. Haven’t been able to make up the time we lost, but its indescribable to be here in one piece after 10 days doing this rally.

48     Kailesh Chauhan              Simon Phillips                     Ford Escort Mk11
We cruised along and it was hard to focus because it’s the last day – we were looking forward to finishing. Faultless drive although the gearbox making more noise so glad to finish. It’s been pretty fast this year.

49     Michael Kahlfuss              Ronald Bauer                      Trabant 601R
We have a standard 4 gears gearbox and a small two-cylinder engine, and we are very pleased to have made it round.