Tim Mammen is making his sixth Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic Rally appearance in 2017, behind the wheel of a new P510 Datsun 1600SSS, which he will run minus the power steering.
Asked how he plans to cope with the tough East African conditions, Mammen said: “The SSS was never homologated with power steering. I just have to continue with the weight training and sweat it out on the event. I think it is going to be a tough event with the heat at the Coast, so those with power steering may find it a substantial benefit.”
The 2017 edition will be Mammen’s first event with Keith Henrie, having driven on the 2003 and 2005 editions with Jaspal Matharu alongside and in 2007, 2013 and 2015 with Kishan Bhanderi as co-driver.
“I’ve shared driving and navigating responsibilities on all previous events and it’s been fantastic fun! This time around, we have a new Datsun, so we will start carefully and hope to pick up some speed thereafter. I’m hoping for a basically dry Safari interspersed with a little local rain as the Datsun is good in the mud.
“We did quite well with our previous 1600SSS in 2003, 2005 and 2007, so hopefully we can improve after having two poor events in a Mazda RX7 which was not really tried in Kenya. The old SSS was a great car; built in Kenya by Jaspal Matharu and quite different to the Mazda RX7 we used more recently. The rotary engine had power but it was odd to drive with no engine braking and I found the car incredibly noisy. So I decided to go back to the Datsun 1600SSS. The car we will run on this year’s Classic was built by the brilliant Stewart Wilkins in Australia and it is a beauty. Let’s see how it performs.
Mammen says he is ready to begin an exciting new new partnership with Keith Henrie. “Keith is an experienced navigator who has vast knowledge of Safari Classic roads. The one thing that will be beneficial to the team is that he’s a technically savvy co-driver who understands the dynamics of marathon rallying.
“The Safari Classic has always been a great adventure and an opportunity to see old friends. I have always savoured that long journey: it is the different places that you get to visit that makes it more than a driving adventure. It’s a big challenge and our last two events were not great, so we are hoping to improve.”