COLLINGE TAKES SECOND VICTORY IN 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...
COLLINGE TAKES SECOND VICTORY IN 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 Bjorn 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.