Ford kicks up the dust in Safari Rally opener Ford Martini World Rally Team drivers Colin McRae and Petter Solberg lie fourth and 10th respectively in Kenyaâ€™s Safari Rally after this afternoonâ€™s short super competitive section at Jamhuri...
Ford kicks up the dust in Safari Rally opener
Ford Martini World Rally Team drivers Colin McRae and Petter Solberg lie fourth and 10th respectively in Kenya’s Safari Rally after this afternoon’s short super competitive section at Jamhuri Park, on the edge of Nairobi. Driving a Ford Focus World Rally Car, McRae and co-driver Nicky Grist were only 1.8 seconds behind leader Juha Kankkunen after the 2.4km test. Solberg and co-driver Fred Gallagher in the second Martini-backed Focus were 3.0 seconds behind Kankkunen.
The prospect of seeing the world’s best drivers racing head-to-head over the dusty parkland track drew an enthusiastic gathering of locals to see the opening of this third round of the FIA World Rally Championship, held in baking hot temperatures.
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Finland’s Juha Kankkunen (Subaru) celebrated becoming the world’s most experienced rally driver by leading on this his 130th World Championship Rally. He was 1.0 second ahead of team-mate Richard Burns with Carlos Sainz (Toyota) in third. Behind McRae came Piero Liatti (SEAT) and Toyota team-mates Didier Auriol and Ian Duncan. World Championship leader Tommi Mäkinen was 12th. Only 3.9 seconds covered the top 12 cars.
Drivers head south out of Nairobi to tackle four competitive sections based around the town of Kajiado. It will be a typical Safari day - long dusty sections, two of which total over 110km, and a mixture of wide, smooth high-speed roads contrasting with badly rutted sections, littered with rocky washaways which slow the cars to first gear at times. Competitors leave Nairobi at 09.00, returning at 19.30 after 347km of competitive driving in a total route of 764km.
Nicky Grist: “The middle two competitive sections are the shortest of the day but likely to be the most troublesome because there are plenty of loose rocks and stones in the road. The third, from Olooloitikosh to Kajiado, is a very grassy road with boulders just clearing the surface. If you hit one of those it could easily rip a suspension strut off and there is obviously a big possibility of punctures.”