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Collinge takes victory in his final rally
East African Safari Rally
After 1,602.88 kilometres of competition over some of the most gruelling and challenging roads in Kenya and Tanzania, the all-Kenyan crew of Rob Collinge and Anton Levitan claimed their second consecutive victory in the East African Safari Rally,
the world's most historic rally. The Datsun 260Z crew took the lead after the third leg and finished the event back in Mombasa with nearly 26 minutes in hand. Former World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist, the early leader, finished second in the Historic Motorsport Escort RS1600, with Frederic Dor, in the Tuthill-prepared Porsche 911, third overall.
Today may have been the final leg but it was no cruise to the finish for the 30 remaining contenders in the second East African Safari Classic. The leg took the crews from Voi into the famous Taita Hills for the first of four competitive sections that could easily have proven to be the sting in the tail. After a further three sections, the crews arrived back at Diani Beach, Mombasa, for the finish after completing 170.70 competitive kilometres in a total distance of 347.04 kilometres. In total, the route covered 4,496.28 kilometres through East Africa.

After suffering with engine problems yesterday, Collinge was back on full power for the final leg. He cruised to the finish, delighted to have won his final rally before retiring from the sport.

"It means a lot to go out like this in our last rally; I'm thrilled," said Collinge. "I knew it would be tougher this year but the victory is much better than in 2003, as this year we were up against three former World Rally Champions. I thought it was possible to win before the start though, we felt quite confident. We managed to fix the valve retainer last night but our engine problems have been very un-Datsun; it just shows how tough the car is that you can thrash it on five cylinders for a day. I have to say thank you to the control officers; hats off to those guys for a great job."

Former World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist was lucky to make the finish after breaking the steering rack today. He and co-driver Ana Goni were however happy to finish second in the Escort. "It's been quite a normal Safari, just like the old days," said Blomqvist, who won two of today's sections. "It would have been difficult to win; it was impossible to beat the Datsuns in the '70s and it's the same now. But I'm happy with the result and the car's been good other than one day of problems."

Frederic Dor, who finished second in the 2003 event, was equally delighted with third position in the lead Porsche. The Frenchman won two of the day's sections and finished just over five minutes adrift of Blomqvist. "I've really enjoyed it, everything's been perfect," he said. "Our only problem has been the roll in the Delamere Estate."

London City insurance broker John Lloyd was relieved to have finished after crashing in the final leg of the 2003 event. He finished a fine fourth overall in the second Tuthill Porsche 911. Australian Graham Alexander moved one position up the leaderboard today after a furious battle to the finish with Iain Freestone and Björn Waldegård, who finished sixth and seventh respectively.

Commenting on the success of the 2005 East African Safari Classic Rally, Event Director Mike Kirkland said: "I'm totally delighted that everyone has enjoyed themselves so much. They've seen our beautiful country and everyone is saying they want to come back on holiday. To have all these happy people in Kenya means a great deal to everyone involved; Kenya has been delighted to host everyone and looks forward to welcoming everyone back again soon."

Over the last 10 days, the East African Safari Classic has also embraced a humanitarian side by pledging charitable donations along the route, benefiting a number of schools in Kenya.

Driver quotes - Leg 9

Björn Waldegård

5. Björn Waldegård /David Cavanagh - S/RI - Porsche 911
"Our first day without problems! It's been a fantastic Safari though; you have to expect problems but I've enjoyed every minute of it, even the four hours each night as a mechanic! I think of the old days, passing through such beautiful places, and it amazes me that everyone we have met seems to have loved what I've done in Kenya over the years. The competitive sections absolutely compare to the old days, with great stages, and the road sections are easy but not stupidly easy. It's been fast like hell at times though; 130 kph in the last section. All the effort that we put into this has been worth every minute."

9. Iain Freestone/Preston Ayres - GB/GB - Ford Escort
"We've had one hell of a battle today with Graham Alexander and Björn Waldegård; it's been the three of us all day. What a fantastic last day though. We took it a bit carefully to get to the finish, but we're second in class, second Escort and second British crew, so I'm happy, especially as we had no service crew for two days. We've enjoyed the whole thing, it's been fantastic. We've spent the whole rally looking after the car and the plan was to be there or thereabouts and expect some attrition. Those I expected to be in front of us are, so we're well pleased to have finished our second Safari Classic (the crew also finished sixth in 2003). Björn, though, what a true ambassador to rallying; a fantastic guy."

10. John Lloyd/Paul Amandini - GB/GB - Porsche 911
"We didn't break anything today, despite Paul telling me to take it easy about 50 times! We've been a bit nervous the last few days, but had a good time in the Taita Hills today, which were amazing. I'm absolutely delighted and it's nice we've never been out of the top four. It's been bloody good fun."

12. Simon Glover/Russ Langthorne - GB/GB - Ford Escort
The crew is reported to have had an accident in the final section but are unhurt.

15. Anthony Ward/Ievan Thomas - GB/GB - Ford Escort
"We had our first problem of the rally today, when the intercom broke in the second section, which was a pity as it was a lovely twisty section. We've had no punctures, no broken wheels, nothing; in 2003 we had seven broken wheels and 15 punctures! The car's been perfect, even though the rally's been much faster this year."

Overall Results - 2005 East African Safari Rally
1. Rob Collinge/Anton Levitan Datsun 260Z 15hr 49min 18sec
2. Stig Blomqvist/Ana Goni Ford Escort RS1600 16hr 15min 05sec
3. Frederic Dor/Paul Howarth Porsche 911 16hr 20min 35sec
4. John Lloyd/Paul Amandini Porsche 911 16hr 41min 49sec
5. Graham Alexander/David Stewart Datsun 260Z 17hr 04min 33sec
6. Iain Freestone/Preston Ayres Ford Escort 17hr 04min 55sec
7. Björn Waldegård/David Cavanagh Porsche 911 17hr 05min 23sec
8. Anthony Ward/Ievan Thomas Ford Escort 17hr 59min 44min
9. Jonathan Savage/Quentin Savage Datsun 260Z 19hr 02min 17sec
10. Simon Sharpe/Denis Burnett BMW 2002 ti 19hr 14min 08sec
Press release East African Safari Rally

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     Blomqvist powers into second position
     Collinge extends advantage
     Collinge maintains lead
     Kenyan Rob Collinge claims lead
     Statements of the main figures
     With the overall victory as their main aim
     Nasser Al-Attiyah polishes off the opposition

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