East African Safari Rally
The all-Kenyan crew of Rob Collinge and Anton Levitan have extended their lead after the sixth leg of the East African Safari Rally. Despite gearbox problems, Collinge - in the Datsun 260Z - has pulled out more than a 22 minute advantage over his
nearest rival, Belgian Gerard Marcy. Third position is now held by 1984 World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist, who has climbed one position up the leaderboard during the leg.
Yesterday was a welcome rest day for the crews in the Masai Mara. However with nine hours of permitted servicing time, most of the support teams were busy throughout the day. The competitive action then resumed this morning (Leg 6) with another big day covering a total of 609.01 kilometres.
The route took the crews from the Masai Mara, north, for another three sections over 176.66 competitive kilometres. The first section (CS19) took them up the Mau Escarpment and was one of the toughest and roughest of the event, reaching altitudes of 2,900 metres. The route then took the crews through the famous Kerio Valley before the overnight camp at the Du Toits farm, 12 kilometres from Eldoret.
Collinge still continues to dominate the event, the experienced Kenyan winning one of today's three demanding stages (CS19). He does however continue to have gearbox problems, and will be changing the unit overnight. "The gearbox went at one kilometre from the Mara," said the overnight leader. "It was difficult to keep a rhythm knowing we'd lost third gear, but okay, we drove round it and kept going and didn't lose any time."
After an all-but trouble-free run in Leg 4, Gerard Marcy, piloting the leading Ford Escort RS1600, had his share of problems today. He nevertheless finished second in CS20 and CS21 to maintain his second position overnight. "We've had big problems," said the Belgian. "The clutch broke and we've been going slowly to make sure we don't break everything. It's been a hard day."
Former World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist has moved one position up the leaderboard after today's competitive sections and trails Marcy by just four minutes in this gruelling event. He won CS20 and was never outside the top four during the day. "It's been a rough day, but we've had no problems and the car's been fine," said the Swede.
John Lloyd and Paul Amandini have had a virtually trouble-free day and were never outside the top six in any of the competitive sections. They hold fourth overnight ahead of Frenchman Frederic Dor, who rolled and lost time in CS20 but won CS21. Sixth position is still held by Britain's Iain Freestone in the Ford Escort.
Safari Rally veteran Björn Waldegård has slipped one position into ninth, while former Toyota team-mate Juha Kankkunen has been forced to withdraw after co-driver Juha Repo fell ill during the night.
Thursday's seventh leg takes the crews from Eldoret for another four competitive sections and 214.57 competitive kilometres. The route initially heads north into the Cherangani Hills at heights of 3,050 metres, famous on the Safari Rally, before heading back south back into the Kerio Valley. A new section then takes them up the Laikipia Escarpment for some very steep climbs over tricky terrain before moving on the spectacularly high-speed plains. The route then heads to Nanyuki and the overnight halt at the famous Mount Kenya Safari Club for the overnight halt.
Driver quotes - Leg 6
3. Juha Kankkunen/Juha Repo - FIN/FIN - Datsun 240Z
The crew has been forced to withdraw after Juha Repo fell ill during the night. The crew drove drive directly from the Masai Mara to Nairobi.
5. Björn Waldegård /David Cavanagh - S/RI - Porsche 911
"I remember back in the Toyota days the amount of preparation we did for this rally. There would be one month at the end of the year, before Christmas, and then back in January for another month of confirmation tests. Then we'd arrive early for the recce, deciding what we were doing for the rally, as well as doing two full surveys of the route, maybe three. In total, I'd say we did 30,000 kilometres preparation for one Safari Rally, including the event. That's why I got upset at home when people said it was easy for us! From the first rally I did here, I would say I've spent more than three years of my life in Kenya! Overnight, Francis Tuthill's crew kindly gave us some Őhlins shocks and it made a big difference. We've only got them on the rear though. The last stage (CS21) was brilliant; it brought back real memories of the early days."
6. Frederic Dor/Paul Howarth - F/GB - Porsche 911
"We rolled in the second section (CS20). There were two flat-out junctions where at least the top six crews went off, but only we rolled. It was a fifth gear off into the two junctions at 120 mph; we went off backwards at the second corner." Adding to Frederic's comments, Paul Howarth said: "It's the pace of the World Rally Championship."
9. Iain Freestone/Preston Ayres - GB/GB - Ford Escort
"CS21 was great fun, a super stage, but you had to be careful at the start because it was so rough. It was one of those stages where you were either cautious, or went faster and risked damaging something. We need to change the clutch tonight, as it's been slipping during the day."
10. John Lloyd/Paul Amandini - GB/GB - Porsche 911
"We broke the windscreen and had a puncture on the way to the second section this morning. We've had a couple of overshoots, but otherwise everything's been fine. The car's good, the driver's knackered!"
Leaderboard after Leg 6
1. Rob Collinge/Anton Levitan Datsun 260Z 10hr 27min 06sec
2. Gerard Marcy/Alain Lopes Ford Escort RS 10hr 49min 13sec
3. Stig Blomqvist/Ana Goni Ford Escort RS1600 10hr 53min 13sec
4. John Lloyd/Paul Amandini Porsche 911 10hr 56min 24sec
5. Frederic Dor/Paul Howarth Porsche 911 10hr 58min 42sec
6. Iain Freestone/Preston Ayres Ford Escort 11hr 19min 56sec
7. Simon Glover/Russ Langthorne Ford Escort 11hr 25min 23sec
8. Graham Alexander/David Stewart Datsun 260Z 11hr 27min 52sec
9. Björn Waldegård/David Cavanagh Porsche 911 11hr 28min 04sec
10. Anthony Ward/Ievan Thomas Ford Escort 11hr 49min 29sec
Press release East African Safari Rally