Just 17 of the original field of 41 cars left Nairobi today to contest the final leg of the Safari Rally of Kenya. The crews headed south out of the city, back to the Whistling Thorns Service Park for a repeat of the four stages first run on ...
Just 17 of the original field of 41 cars left Nairobi today to contest the final leg of the Safari Rally of Kenya.
The crews headed south out of the city, back to the Whistling Thorns Service Park for a repeat of the four stages first run on Friday.
The perilous stage conditions continued to cause problems for the crews, and today's leg saw high profile retirements from third placed Petter Solberg, and fifth placed Bruno Thiry. The short SS11 was cancelled to put the rally back on schedule after a delayed start to SS10.
Victory went to Tommi Makinen, who managed to hold onto the lead he secured on the second section of the event. The Finn won by a margin of more than 12 minutes, and moved ten points clear at the top of the Drivers' Championship.
SS10 0650hrs Oltepesi (117.46km)
Tommi Makinen and Harri Rovanpera were first through the stage, but low cloud prevented some competitors' safety helicopters from taking off, and the rest of the field was delayed until the situation improved. Petter eventually started at 0836hrs, with Richard Burns acting as spotter in the helicopter above. But 60 km into the section Petter hit trouble. Lying 3rd overall and on course for a career best Safari finish, his Subaru suffered a suspected right-hand front wheel bearing failure. Petter and co-driver Phil Mills continued driving, but the wheel came off a short time later. The pair tried to make repairs on the stage, and managed to get underway again on three wheels, with Phil Mills sitting in the boot to balance the car. But considering the safety of the crew, and the considerable distance remaining, the team instructed Petter to retire.
Makinen was fastest through the section, and extended his overall lead to six minutes and 39 seconds. Rovanpera was second, with Delecour third -- despite running with a damaged propshaft. A turbo-boost problem hampered Freddy Loix' progress, and he lost 39 minutes driving slowly through the section.
Fastest time: Makinen (Mitsubishi) 1:01:02
SS11 0858hrs Kajiado (49.95km)
SS12 1057hrs Orien (112.52km)
His propshaft and gearbox replaced in service, Francois Delecour was quickest through the penultimate stage. Makinen was second-fastest, but almost a minute and a half slower than Delecour, who was still trying to close the four and a half minute gap on Armin Schwarz. The Skoda driver was third fastest, and held an advantage of just under three minutes into the final section.
Fastest time: Delecour (Ford) 50:09
SS13 1306hrs Maili Tisa (71.83km)
A transmission problem for Harri Rovanpera threatened to upset the finishing order on the final stage, but although he lost five minutes on the section it was not enough for him to lose second place. Delecour was fastest and secured fourth overall, but couldn't catch Armin Schwarz in the Skoda who finished third -- earning the Czech Manufacturer its best ever WRC finish. But there was a sting in the tail for Skoda when Bruno Thiry crashed their second car and retired, losing his fifth place. In the end though victory went to Tommi Makinen in the Mitsubishi. He was third quickest on the stage and won the rally by a margin of 12 minutes and 37 seconds.
Fastest time: Delecour (Ford) 38:08
The ninth round of the 2001 World Championship starts in five weeks time, when teams travel to the spiritual home of rallying -- Finland. It's an event that Richard is looking forward to: "This is one of my three favourite events and although I've not won it yet, I've been close quite often. Perhaps this year will be the one!" He said. Solberg too is keenly anticipating the high-speed event that starts from Jyvaskyla on August 24th.
"SS10 was a really hard stage, and we had some very bad luck. On the road section from service we heard a noise from the front wheel bearing which got worse and worse. 60km into the stage I felt there was a problem, then the wheel came off and that was it. We tried somehow to get to the finish, we tried everything, but we couldn't do that safely so the team decided it was better to stop.
We're had a few problems during the rally, but wherever possible we're been quick, we've won some stages, and have had a good rhythm. But it wasn't to be our rally this time. I'm looking forward to Finland now -- the Finnish guys had better watch out."
"We decided to retire the car on the first stage as Petter had a terminal problem. It seems that there was a wheel bearing failure or something of that nature. Obviously it's difficult to diagnose the exact cause of the problem from the Service Park. Petter heard a noise from the car on the way to the stage, but they did what they could to continue. It seems that they even tried with Phil balancing the car by sitting in the boot. But with 35kms to go, it was too dangerous to carry on.
It is frustrating and disappointing for the team. We expect problems on this rally, but we have not experienced these particular problems in all our endurance testing.
This can really be a soul-destroying rally. I'm sure Tommi will be biting his nails right the way to the finishing ramp."