East African Safari Rally : Leg 3
The all-Kenyan crew of Rob Collinge and Anton Levitan have claimed the lead in the East African Safari Rally after the third leg of this legendary event.
The Datsun 260Z driver has had a virtually trouble-free run and has nearly 16 minutes
in hand to second-placed Gerard Marcy. John Lloyd, who started fourth overnight, has climbed back into third in the Tuthill-prepared Porsche 911. Stig Blomqvist, who led for the opening two legs, has dropped back to fourth after problems in the first section of the day.
Late last night, the organisers took the decision to cancel CS8, where a number of crews got lost due to possible inconsistencies in the road book. Today, however, the third leg took in four competitive sections over 202.48 kilometres. The route took the crews north from Arusha for one final section in Tanzania, on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, before crossing the border back into Kenya for the longest test of the event, the 105.12 kilometre run from Namanga to Kibini (CS12). After a further two sections, the crews arrived in Nairobi for the overnight halt on the outskirts of the capital city.
Collinge started the day in second position and won the opening section in Tanzania, where tough navigation over desert-like terrain saw a number of crews lost in the maze of tracks. Despite briefly losing their way, the Kenyan then benefited when Blomqvist lost time and the winner of the 2003 East African Safari Rally cruised into the lead.
"There were a lot of tracks in the opening section and we got a bit lost," said Collinge. "The day was then trouble-free until we hit a big rock in CS13, punctured and lost all the tread from the right rear tyre."
Gerard Marcy has climbed into second position in the leading Ford Escort. He and co-driver Alain Lopes have had an incident-free day and hold a healthy advantage going into the fourth leg. "We've had no problems all day; it's been a holiday so far and we're very happy," said Marcy.
John Lloyd regains third position in his Porsche 911, the Briton delighted with his overnight position. "The first section (CS11) was like an orienteering course! We've bent a few wheels but otherwise the day's been good. As Paul (navigator) said to me, 'when was the last time you started a special stage with Stig Blomqvist, Björn Waldegård and Juha Kankkunen behind you!'"
1984 World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist has had a frustrating day in the Historic Motorsport Escort. "I thought we had a puncture in CS11 but in fact it was a broken rim," said fourth-placed Blomqvist. "We stopped to change it and the jack broke so it took a long time to change the wheel with spectators helping us. Then we got stuck in sand in a dry riverbed and lost around 25 minutes in the section. Not a great day," added the Swede, who then went on to set joint fastest time, with Kankkunen, in CS12.
Fifth position is held by Frenchman Frederic Dor, who also got lost in the opening section but went on to win CS14. "We got a bit lost and then broke a wheel," he said. "There were cars circling everywhere trying to find the right track and we got lost in the dust. The first part of CS12 was very tough on the suspension and it was flat-out for 40 kilometres; otherwise a good day for us."
Rounding off the top six is Iain Freestone in a Ford Escort. "We've been taking it steady as the car's falling apart! The track rod ends keep knocking out."
The other two former World Rally Champions and Safari Rally veterans competing in the event have however had a good day. Björn Waldegård showed his experience in the opening section (CS11), finishing second behind Collinge on what he regarded as the perfect Safari stage, and was then joint third in CS13, alongside Blomqvist. He and co-driver David Cavanagh overnight in seventh. Juha Kankkunen has been flying today in the Datsun 240Z, the Finn finishing third in CS11, winning CS12 and CS13, and claiming second in the final section of the leg. He and Juha Repo hold 14th position going into the fourth day of competition.
Monday (Leg 4) sees the crews head north of Nairobi and into the famed Masai Mara for another four competitive sections and 175.38 competitive kilometres. The route heads out towards Nakuru and the Delamere Estates for the first section of the day before heading to Narok and the Mara plain, awash with spectacular game. The crews then overnight in the Mara Simba Lodge after driving a total of 504.65 kilometres.
Leaderboard after Leg 3
1. Rob Collinge/Anton Levitan Datsun 260Z 6hr 30min 49sec
2. Gerard Marcy/Alain Lopes Ford Escort RS 6hr 46min 11sec
3. John Lloyd/Paul Amandini Porsche 911 6hr 51min 48sec
4. Stig Blomqvist/Ana Goni Ford Escort RS1600 6hr 55min 09sec
5. Frederic Dor/Paul Howarth Porsche 911 6hr 58min 16sec
6. Iain Freestone/Preston Ayres Ford Escort 7hr 02min 42sec
7. Björn Waldegård/David Cavanagh Porsche 911 7hr 03min 25sec
8. Simon Glover/Russ Langthorne Ford Escort 7hr 11min 22sec
9. Graham Alexander/David Stewart Datsun 260Z 7hr 11min 50sec
10. Anthony Ward/Ievan Thomas Ford Escort 7hr 17min 28sec
Press release East African Safari Rally