After a gruelling nine-day rally across 2,000 miles of the toughest terrain in Kenya and Tanzania, British drivers Richard Jackson and Ryan Champion were awarded joint victory on the 2017 East African Safari Classic Rally.
Driving a classic Porsche 911 sponsored by Welcome to Yorkshire and built by Tuthill Porsche, the duo set the fastest times on ten of the twenty-one stages, finishing in the top three on more than half the competitive sections. The final result was a sporting one, given a delicate situation that developed on the penultimate day.
Having run close to the front for the first few days of the rally, Jackson and Champion took the lead on day six, passing rival 911 driver, Baldev Chager. A thrilling contest ensued, with the drivers swapping fastest stage times up to the penultimate day.
Chager lost more than twenty minutes on the opening stage, which temporarily sealed the Yorkshire crew’s lead. The second stage of the day – CS20 – had endured heavy rain leading up to the event, causing several mud holes along its length, which were virtually impassable for two-wheel drive cars. The Yorkshire 911 was first into one and stuck fast, with rest of the field soon similarly mired. Only five cars from the day’s twenty-four starters completed the stage in under the maximum time, some of whom took another road to circumnavigate the problem area.
The rally continued to its final stage of the day, with Carl Tundo in his amazing TR7 V8 now showing as leader. Several competitors queried the validity of CS20, as just twenty percent of the starters had finished the stage. The rally stewards decided by majority to cancel the times for that stage, granting the lead back to Jackson and Champion. However, on the morning of the final day of the rally, Carl Tundo submitted an understandable query in response. After much deliberation, the stewards decided to award a joint victory.
“Once again, the Safari Classic Rally lived up to its reputation as the toughest historic rally in the world,” said team boss, Richard Tuthill. “In extremely challenging conditions, our Porsches appeared on the podium twenty-three times over twenty-one stages, taking twelve stage wins in total against highly skilled competitors who fought hard all the way.
“Though Ryan and Richard drove a wonderful rally, winning almost half of the stages over eight driving days and 3,200 kilometres, they agreed to share victory as the most sporting thing to do following organisational issues on the penultimate day. We hope that the organisers will learn from the issues on this year’s event and put some predetermined processes in place to deal with such situations, as and when they occur in the future. It will save a lot of heartache.”
Stage Wins – 2017 East African Safari Classic Rally
Champion/Jackson – 10 stage wins
Chager/Soni – 4 stage wins
Bell/Challen – 2 stage wins
Blomqvist/Adielsson – 2 stage wins
Tundo/Jessop – 2 stage wins
Bharij/Sehmi – 1 stage win