COLLINGE EXTENDS ADVANTAGE IN EAST AFRICAN SAFARI RALLY
The all-Kenyan crew of Rob Collinge and Anton Levitan have extended their lead after the sixth leg of the East African Safari Rally. Despite gearbox problems, Collinge - in the Datsun 260Z - has pulled out more than a 22 minute advantage over his nearest rival, Belgian Gerard Marcy. Third position is now held by 1984 World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist, who has climbed one position up the leaderboard during the leg.
Yesterday was a welcome rest day for the crews in the Masai Mara. However with nine hours of permitted servicing time, most of the support teams were busy throughout the day. The competitive action then resumed this morning (Leg 6) with another big day covering a total of 609.01 kilometres. The route took the crews from the Masai Mara, north, for another three sections over 176.66 competitive kilometres. The first section (CS19) took them up the Mau Escarpment and was one of the toughest and roughest of the event, reaching altitudes of 2,900 metres. The route then took the crews through the famous Kerio Valley before the overnight camp at the Du Toits farm, 12 kilometres from Eldoret.
Collinge still continues to dominate the event, the experienced Kenyan winning one of today's three demanding stages (CS19). He does however continue to have gearbox problems, and will be changing the unit overnight. "The gearbox went at one kilometre from the Mara," said the overnight leader. "It was difficult to keep a rhythm knowing we'd lost third gear, but okay, we drove round it and kept going and didn't lose any time."
After an all-but trouble-free run in Leg 4, Gerard Marcy, piloting the leading Ford Escort RS1600, had his share of problems today. He nevertheless finished second in CS20 and CS21 to maintain his second position overnight. "We've had big problems," said the Belgian. "The clutch broke and we've been going slowly to make sure we don't break everything. It's been a hard day."
Former World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist has moved one position up the leaderboard after today's competitive sections and trails Marcy by just four minutes in this gruelling event. He won CS20 and was never outside the top four during the day. "It's been a rough day, but we've had no problems and the car's been fine," said the Swede.
John Lloyd and Paul Amandini have had a virtually trouble-free day and were never outside the top six in any of the competitive sections. They hold fourth overnight ahead of Frenchman Frederic Dor, who rolled and lost time in CS20 but won CS21. Sixth position is still held by Britain's Iain Freestone in the Ford Escort.
Safari Rally veteran Bjorn Waldegård has slipped one position into ninth, while former Toyota team-mate Juha Kankkunen has been forced to withdraw after co-driver Juha Repo fell ill during the night.
Thursday's seventh leg takes the crews from Eldoret for another four competitive sections and 214.57 competitive kilometres. The route initially heads north into the Cherangani Hills at heights of 3,050 metres, famous on the Safari Rally, before heading back south back into the Kerio Valley. A new section then takes them up the Laikipia Escarpment for some very steep climbs over tricky terrain before moving on the spectacularly high-speed plains. The route then heads to Nanyuki and the overnight halt at the famous Mount Kenya Safari Club for the overnight halt.
DRIVER QUOTES - LEG 6
3. Juha Kankkunen/Juha Repo - FIN/FIN - Datsun 240Z
"The crew has been forced to withdraw after Juha Repo fell ill during the night. The crew drove drive directly from the Masai Mara to Nairobi. More information to follow when available.
5. Bjorn Waldegård /David Cavanagh - S/RI - Porsche 911
"I remember back in the Toyota days the amount of preparation we did for this rally. There would be one month at the end of the year, before Christmas, and then back in January for another month of confirmation tests. Then we'd arrive early for the recce, deciding what we were doing for the rally, as well as doing two full surveys of the route, maybe three. In total, I'd say we did 30,000 kilometres preparation for one Safari Rally, including the event. That's why I got upset at home when people said it was easy for us! From the first rally I did here, I would say I've spent more than three years of my life in Kenya! Overnight, Francis Tuthill's crew kindly gave us some Őhlins shocks and it made a big difference. We've only got them on the rear though. The last stage (CS21) was brilliant; it brought back real memories of the early days."
6. Frederic Dor/Paul Howarth - F/GB - Porsche 911
"We rolled in the second section (CS20). There were two flat-out junctions where at least the top six crews went off, but only we rolled. It was a fifth gear off into the two junctions at 120 mph; we went off backwards at the second corner." Adding to Frederic's comments, Paul Howarth said: "It's the pace of the World Rally Championship."
9. Iain Freestone/Preston Ayres - GB/GB - Ford Escort
"CS21 was great fun, a super stage, but you had to be careful at the start because it was so rough. It was one of those stages where you were either cautious, or went faster and risked damaging something. We need to change the clutch tonight, as it's been slipping during the day."
10. John Lloyd/Paul Amandini - GB/GB - Porsche 911
"We broke the windscreen and had a puncture on the way to the second section this morning. We've had a couple of overshoots, but otherwise everything's been fine. The car's good, the driver's knackered!"
12. Simon Glover/Russ Langthorne - GB/GB - Ford Escort
"What a great day's rallying!"
15. Anthony Ward/Ievan Thomas - GB/GB - Ford Escort
"We got a broken windscreen on a road section, but the stages have been great; no problems and another Sunday drive!"
16. David Kedward/Crispin Sassoon - GB/GB - Ford Escort
"Somehow we drove out of Parc Ferme with the bonnet pins out and the bonnet flew up and smashed the screen. In the first section (CS19) we had a problem with a front strut, and then the steering rack mount broke; it's all been held together with a Jubilee clip and bungee straps for three stages!"
18. Jayant Shah/Lofty Drews - GB/GB - Datsun 180B
"We tried to sort out the steering during the rest day, having broken all the roll bars, but had to wait until the rest day to sort it. The Terratrip cable ripped out in Leg 4 which made things difficult. so we had to judge distances on the clock. We were supposed to be driving the Datsun 260Z we had in 2003, but it's still delayed on the ship from Australia, so our preparation with the 180B had to be very quick. Today, we got stuck in sand in the Delamere Estate (CS20) and lost a lot of time as we had to be towed out. We also broke a shock absorber and the propshaft."
19. James Ingleby/Mike Bowen - GB/GB - Rover
"We went off at the same place as Frederic Dor, but didn't roll. We had a problem with the shock absorbers after Leg 4, but didn't have time to repair them during the rest day, so we did it on the road section outside the Mara this morning."
20. Marzio Kravos/Renzo Bernardi - EAK/EAK - Mercedes 450 SLC
"The starter motor broke in Nakuru and we've had a shock absorber pop out, otherwise, an okay day."
24. Jurgen Bertl/Jiri Kotek - D/CZ - Porsche 911
"We lost the brakes halfway into CS21, couldn't stop and went off three times."
2015. Soren Kjaer/Mads Kjaer - DK/DK - Porsche 911
"We were basically just fettling the car during the rest day, although we needed to sort a synchromesh problem with the gears. Otherwise, 2015 is ready for action! We had a few punctures today and need to change the gearbox tonight, as we lost a couple of gears."
22. Graham Alexander/David Stewart - AUS/AUS - Datsun 260Z
"It's been an average day."
24. Jurgen Bertl/Jiri Kotek - D/CZ - Porsche 911
"We changed all the suspension during the rest day and just checked the car over."
28. Albert Michiels/Patrick de Coninck - B/B - Porsche 911
"Lord and Lady Delamere found us 500 metres from their house and we were their guests for the rest of the day; a great experience. We had an engine problem and there was a fire yesterday, possibly due to unburned petrol going into the engine. We tried our hardest to stay in the rally, but it was impossible."
29. Marc Devis/Dan Erculisse - B/B - Porsche 911
"All the shocks and wheel bearings were changed during the rest day and we were happy with the condition of the car going into today. We'd been warned it was rough at the start of CS21, but it wasn't so bad and overall things have been good."
32. Timothy Mammen/Jaspal Matharu - GB/EAK - Datsun 1600 SSS
"We've blown the exhaust so it's been a noisy day! We had a puncture in CS21 and it's been very rough today."
34. Bo Axelsson/Eugen Damstedt - S/FIN - Volvo 142S
"We changed another piston - our second of the event - rebuilt the suspension and reinstalled the gearbox during the rest day." The crew is now reported to have retired during the leg.
36. Simon Sharpe/Denis Burnett - EAK/GB - BMW 2002
"We had a problem in CS20 when we caught Jayant Shah. Trying to pass him we got stuck in deep sand and lost 20 minutes."
38. Hardev Singh Sira/Manjeet Singh Degun - GB/GB - Peugeot 504 Coupe
"Yesterday was meant to be a rest day! In the first three days we had 10 punctures and in the second leg had to drive 15 kilometres on a rim as we'd already used the spare. On the third day we had another two punctures at the same time after hitting a rock and bending the rims. Punctures have put us back 10 minutes a time and 10-12 positions, which we're unlikely to recover. In the fourth leg we lost a front caliper which meant we had no brakes for 10 kilometres and there was no service allowed after the section. We had less than half braking power for the next two sections. Day 4 we had a radiator leak, but despite all that we were 22nd after the fourth day, which on the positive side wasn't too bad half-way through. During the rest day we fixed the brakes and radiator leak, and just did general maintenance, including cleaning the inside of the car; although I hope our wives don't read that! It's been fun but stressful so far." The crew hit a gazelle going out of the Mara this morning and broke the radiator. They were able to continue, after being towed by a service crew.
43. Uwe Kurzenberger/Gabriele Mahler - D/D - Peugeot 504
"We had problems with the suspension on the first day and after that we had problems with the clutch, with too much dust going into it. Day 4 we had gear selection problems."
47. Jonathan Savage/Quentin Savage - EAK/EAK - Datsun 260Z
"It's been very rough, but everything's held together. The car and navigator did good and we have no complaints."