BLOMQVIST POWERS INTO SECOND IN 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 Bjorn 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. Bjorn 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!"
7. Gerard Marcy/Alain Lopes - B/B - Ford Escort RS
The crew has been delayed with an alternator problem.
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."
12. Simon Glover/Russ Langthorne - GB/GB - Ford Escort
"It's been a mixed day. The throttle linkage fell apart, but we managed to fix it. Then we broke the left rear suspension, so it was a bit bumpy on the last one!"
15. Anthony Ward/Ievan Thomas - GB/GB - Ford Escort
"The last section was rough and fast, the type of stage where you can smash the car to bits. The car got very very hot earlier and we had to slow; the temperature was off the clock."
16. David Kedward/Crispin Sassoon - GB/GB - Ford Escort
"No dramas for us today. We've been driving steadily as it was a make or break day."
18. Jayant Shah/Lofty Drews - GB/GB - Datsun 180B
"The car died on us six times in CS25; the battery, ignition, alternator - it just kept happening. The rest of the day's been beautiful and we're up for a beer tonight!"
19. James Ingleby/Mike Bowen - GB/GB - Rover
"It's been a fraught day. We had no brakes in CS24 and only the front left working through CS25. The oil pressure and brake pipes had rubbed together; it was very dodgy on the section. Every time I pressed the brakes, more fluid came out."
20. Marzio Kravos/Renzo Bernardi - EAK/EAK - Mercedes 450 SLC
"We broke the rear cross-member in the second section today and it took us 3.5 hours to replace it. Still, we're here."
2015. Soren Kjaer/Mads Kjaer - DK/DK - Porsche 911
"We fitted a new gearbox last night and I didn't take my foot off the floor throughout CS25!"
21. Josef Pointinger/Peter Hall - A/GB - Ford Escort
"We're here! In CS24 (where Hall was driving) there were so many uphill sections where you needed big engine revs that we lost all the oil. The warning light came on, but we just had to limp through."
22. Graham Alexander/David Stewart - AUS/AUS - Datsun 260Z
"We've had no real problems, other than following in other people's dust."
24. Jurgen Bertl/Jiri Kotek - D/CZ - Porsche 911
"We lost the rear brakes 20 kilometres before the finish of CS25."
29. Marc Devis/Dan Erculisse - B/B - Porsche 911
"It's been a good day. We've been gentler on the car; the end is near and the risk of breakage bigger. CS25 was incredibly fast, as fast as I dare go putting my mind away. It's been a lovely day though; great scenery and I can already taste the beer!"
30. Jean-Michel Martin/Jean-Francois Chaumont - B/B - Porsche 911
"The whole day's been very difficult; in fact the whole rally. We're trying to get to the finish and happy to be here. No mechanical problems, just a puncture this morning."
33. Aslam Khan/Imran Khan - EAK/EAK - Datsun 180B
"It's been an excellent day. We took a precautionary extra service this morning because we could hear a noise underneath the car, but it's all been beautiful, very good."
36. Simon Sharpe/Denis Burnett - EAK/GB - BMW 2002
"It's been a bit of a struggle today. We had a broken bolt in the gearbox cross-member but otherwise no major dramas."
40. John Hills/Michael Tuckey - GB/AUS - Ford Escort
"Excellent, no worries, and the stages have been pretty good."
47. Jonathan Savage/Quentin Savage - EAK/EAK - Datsun 260Z
"CS25 was hairy! We overtook another car and it's been a good day taking it a bit easier. The car's fine, but we need to check one or two things tonight."