East African Safari Rally
Local favourites Rob Collinge and Anton Levitan continue to lead the 2005 East African Safari Rally after the seventh day of competition over Kenya's unforgiving roads. The Datsun 260Z crew has just over 20 minutes in hand, however former World
Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist has been on a charge, powering into second after another long day of gruelling competition. Porsche 911 driver Frederic Dor has enjoyed a trouble-free run and the Frenchman moves into third position.
Today's seventh leg took the crews from Eldoret for another four sections and 214.57 competitive kilometres. The route initially headed north into the Cherangani Hills at heights of 3,050 metres, famous on the Safari Rally, before heading back south into the Kerio Valley. A new section then took them up the Laikipia Escarpment for some very steep climbs over tricky terrain before moving on to the spectacularly high-speed plains awash with holes and ruts. The route then headed to Nanyuki and the famous Mount Kenya Safari Club for the overnight halt.
Rob Collinge started the day with a 22 minute advantage over Gerard Marcy. The Kenyan was never outside the top six throughout the leg and won CS23 and CS25. "It's been reasonably traumatic," said Collinge. "We dropped onto five cylinders this morning and I reckon we've lost about six minutes."
Belgian Gerard Marcy started the day in second position, but has dropped down the order to 17th after a disappointing day. A broken alternator screw on the Escort initially delayed them and, despite repairs, they were again stopped in the final section with the same problem. So, second position has been taken by Stig Blomqvist and Ana Goni, the pair winning both CS22 and CS24 to move one place up the leaderboard in their Escort RS1600. "We've had no problems and I'm quite happy we've got through another day," said the Swede.
Frederic Dor has enjoyed a great day of competition, the Frenchman powering up the leaderboard from fifth to third overnight, just over 10 minutes adrift of Blomqvist. The pressure is however on Dor, as he and fourth-placed John Lloyd have been battling hard throughout the event and they are only split by 12 minutes with two days remaining and where anything can still happen. "We've had no problems at all today," said Dor.
Former World Rally Champion and Safari Rally veteran Björn Waldegård has moved two positions up the leaderboard, into seventh, despite more brake problems.
Friday's penultimate leg is another long day for the crews, leaving the Mount Kenya Safari Club at 06:00 hrs and arriving far south, in Voi, at 16:35 hrs. A 212 kilometre road section takes the crews to the first competitive section - the longest at 113.62 kilometres - before the final section of the leg from Nziu to Makindu. In total, the penultimate leg takes in 188.79 competitive kilometres over just two sections before the overnight halt at Voi Wildlife Lodge.
Driver quotes - leg 7
3. Juha Kankkunen/Juha Repo - FIN/FIN - Datsun 240Z
Juha Repo is confirmed to have had blood circulation problems. The Finn is however fine, resting in Nairobi and hoping to join the rally in Mombasa.
5. Björn Waldegård /David Cavanagh - S/RI - Porsche 911
"It's been an interesting day; fantastic places, beautiful and famous mountains, absolutely lovely. We slowed a fair bit today to preserve the car and survived okay. On extremely fast and rough roads like the last one (CS25) you need some speed, but you have to pace yourself as well. We lost the brakes again, for the fifth time, on the section, but at least we had the front brakes. A rear suspension bolt also came loose before CS24, but we managed to fix it for the section. It's just been another day at the office!"
9. Iain Freestone/Preston Ayres - GB/GB - Ford Escort
"The final section (CS25) was too fast and dangerous with so many holes. It's been a mixed day. We totally broke the front suspension on CS24 and managed to replace it, but with just 20 seconds to spare."
10. John Lloyd/Paul Amandini - GB/GB - Porsche 911
"We had a puncture in CS24, just after passing Gerard Marcy; it took a long time to change."
Leaderboard after Leg 7
1. Rob Collinge/Anton Levitan Datsun 260Z 12hr 55min 00sec
2. Stig Blomqvist/Ana Goni Ford Escort RS1600 13hr 15min 15sec
3. Frederic Dor/Paul Howarth Porsche 911 13hr 25min 48sec
4. John Lloyd/Paul Amandini Porsche 911 13hr 37min 37sec
5. Iain Freestone/Preston Ayres Ford Escort 13hr 58min 32sec
6. Graham Alexander/David Stewart Datsun 260Z 14hr 00min 55sec
7. Björn Waldegård/David Cavanagh Porsche 911 14hr 02min 49sec
8. Simon Glover/Russ Langthorne Ford Escort 14hr 22min 23sec
9. Anthony Ward/Ievan Thomas Ford Escort 14hr 33min 50sec
10. Jonathan Savage/Quentin Savage Datsun 260Z 14hr 40min 46sec
Press release East African Safari Rally