COLLINGE WITHIN SIGHT OF VICTORY IN EAST AFRICAN SAFARI RALLY
The Datsun 260Z crew of Rob Collinge and Anton Levitan continue to head the leaderboard in the East African Safari Rally. The all-Kenyan crew claimed the lead after the third day of competition and now have nearly 24 minutes in hand with just four competitive sections remaining. Stig Blomqvist, the early leader, maintains second in the Ford Escort RS1600 with Frederic Dor extending his lead over fourth-placed John Lloyd to 16 minutes.
Today's penultimate leg was another long day on the road for the crews, although the second scheduled competitive section was cancelled due to the volume of heavy machinery along the route. The crews left the Mount Kenya Safari Club at 06:00 hrs and arrived far south, in Voi, at 16:35 hrs. A 212 kilometre road section took them to the first and only competitive section of the day - the longest at 113.62 kilometres - before a long road section to the overnight halt at Voi Wildlife Lodge, north-west of Mombasa.
Collinge and Levitan were unable to repair their engine problem overnight, so the Kenyan duo has been forced to run on five cylinders throughout the day. They nevertheless won the section by nearly four minutes. "We obviously had a lack of power in the section; one of the inlet valves isn't working on one of the cylinders," said Collinge. "The section was very rough, but the suspension is awesome on these stages."
Former World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist has not been feeling at his best today, but the Swede still set second-fastest time to maintain his overall second position. "It was a bit rough in places, but I'm feeling happy," said the Escort RS1600 driver after a trouble-free day.
Frederic Dor consolidated his third position today, the Frenchman also enjoying a good day in the Tuthill-prepared Porsche 911. "No big problems, we just lot the 'trip after 20 kilometres'," he said. "We had to take it a bit carefully in the section as it was very fast with a lot of dry mud holes, which are difficult to see. I've been surprised by the speeds this year though."
John Lloyd maintains fourth in the second Tuthill Porsche, while Iain Freestone continues to hold fifth position, currently one position higher than his 2003 East African Safari Rally result. Australian Graham Alexander rounds off the top six in another Datsun 260Z. Safari Rally veteran Bjorn Waldegård, and co-driver David Cavanagh, were lucky to maintain seventh position, having driven the section with big steering problems.
Tomorrow (Saturday 10 December) may be the final leg but it will be no cruise to the finish for the 30 remaining contenders in the second East African Safari Classic. The leg takes the crews from Voi into the famous Taita Hills for the first of four competitive sections that could well prove to be the sting in the tail. After a further three sections the crews arrive back at Diani Beach, Mombasa, after completing a total of 170.70 competitive kilometers in a total distance of 347.04 kilometers.
DRIVER QUOTES - LEG 8
5. Bjorn Waldegård /David Cavanagh - S/RI - Porsche 911
"We've driven 75 kilometres with the steering completely loose," said the Swede, indicating 4" of play in all directions as the steering column retaining bracket had failed. "Bloody hell; that was hard work!"
7. Gerard Marcy/Alain Lopes - B/B - Ford Escort RS
"We ran for 50 kilometres in John Lloyd's dust, but the car is feeling very nice after our electrical problems yesterday."
9. Iain Freestone/Preston Ayres - GB/GB - Ford Escort
"I spoke to one of my daughters last night and she told me it should be easy to win, just don't take your foot off!"
10. John Lloyd/Paul Amandini - GB/GB - Porsche 911
"That was a great fun section and the car's running beautifully."
12. Simon Glover/Russ Langthorne - GB/GB - Ford Escort
"The section was as advertised! Just one puncture, otherwise fine for us."
15. Anthony Ward/Ievan Thomas - GB/GB - Ford Escort
"I'm happy, again, and the car's running great."
16. David Kedward/Crispin Sassoon - GB/GB - Ford Escort
"There was a horrid smell of gearbox oil in the car, so there's obviously a leak. The section was rough in places, but good fun."
19. James Ingleby/Mike Bowen - GB/GB - Rover
"We lost the anti-roll bar yesterday and repaired the steering last night and picked up penalties going into Parc Ferme. Otherwise okay today, although we lost the intercom in the section."
20. Marzio Kravos/Renzo Bernardi - EAK/EAK - Mercedes 450 SLC
"We hit a big ditch in the section, the car flew into the air and bashed down hard on the back end."
2015. Soren Kjaer/Mads Kjaer - DK/DK - Porsche 911
"The goal; Mombasa!"
21. Josef Pointinger/Peter Hall - A/GB - Ford Escort
"We've been keeping an eye on the oil gauge after yesterday's problems. The engine generally seems to be using a lot of oil, but we're still running!"
22. Graham Alexander/David Stewart - AUS/AUS - Datsun 260Z
"The section was very rough and loose, but the car's fine although the driver's a bit beaten around!"
24. Jurgen Bertl/Jiri Kotek - D/CZ - Porsche 911
"We've had slower cars in front of us and got stuck in dust twice for 25 kilometres. The front brakes were a bit in and out, but just because they were hot."
29. Marc Devis/Dan Erculisse - B/B - Porsche 911
"We're taking it easy, looking after the car to get to the finish now."
32. Timothy Mammen/Jaspal Matharu - GB/EAK - Datsun 1600SSS
"We had a good run with no problems, thank God!"
36. Simon Sharpe/Denis Burnett - EAK/GB - BMW 2002
"We're having fun! No problems at all today, just a lot of fun."
38. Hardev Singh Sira/Manjeet Singh Degun - GB/GB - Peugeot 504 Coupe
"We broken the steering and the head gasket went yesterday and we arrived at Mount Kenya at 03:00 hrs. Today we've had no problems, but it's straight to bed now."
47. Jonathan Savage/Quentin Savage - EAK/EAK - Datsun 260Z
"Excellent; a great fun section. We changed two shocks and the engine mounting yesterday and the car's now running very sweetly."