The penultimate day of the 2019 East African Safari Classic Rally perfectly encapsulated the highs and lows of this incredible event. Safari Classic is amongst the toughest of historic motoring challenges – if not the toughest – and it is an emotional roller coaster.
The speeds and stage distances involved in racing across the toughest terrain in East Africa guarantees that significant incidents will occur and today just such an incident befell Philip Kadoorie’s car. Lying in third position and defending well against an experienced local who was chasing hard in a similar Porsche, a bump that was not highlighted on the notes caught the crew out.
The car took off and landed heavily on some rocks, which bent up the floor and damaged the pedal box. The crew lost the clutch and the throttle action stiffened, causing the engine to run at full throttle much of the time. Philip and Ryan nursed the car through the remainder of the stage, losing roughly twelve minutes and dropping them down to fourth position.
The car restarted the final stage of the day and set the third quickest time, but the crew is currently four minutes off the podium. One stage tomorrow has been cancelled, so only two stages remain: the lesser of which is unlikely to cause too much drama. Thus, with just one stage left where good or bad luck could play a part, we will just have to wait and see how things play out.
One man who is happy to wait and see what tomorrow brings is Stig Blomqvist of the Race4Health team. Stig has been running at his own pace all rally: a pace closely matched by former Austrian national rally champion and three-time national champion, Kris Rosenberger.
“Another day with no problems and we are happy to be here,” said Kris. “I want to stay close to Stig and, if something happens to him, we are there. We are keeping to our tactics and going as fast as the car can go. It’s not by coincidence that Stig has similar timings, it’s just that he knows this rally very well!”
As we prepare to start the final day of another epic Safari, less than seven seconds splits the pair: the closest gap entering the final day of Safari that any of us can remember. Here’s Richard talking to Stig in today’s evening service, with an added appearance from Francis:
Further down the field, Eugenio Amos has rediscovered the mojo he felt he had lost in Tanzania and set some excellent times over the day. The Alitalia-liveried 911 is now in seventh position overall and the crew hopes to finish the event on a high.
“These are the special stages I like, where you have to dig deep into your experience rather than being all flat out all the time,” said Eugenio. “Here it’s no joke. Today I found the stages challenging and the motivation that I lacked yesterday came back. Two cars stopped, so we might have gained some positions and that’s added to my enthusiasm for the final day.”
As mentioned previously, the stages tomorrow have been rearranged due to washouts, so we have a 63 km stage first thing, with a short 15 km stage to complete the event. We’ll be posting updates across our social media channels, so check in with us there. Here’s Richard’s final walkabout on the final service of the final full day of the 2019 Safari Classic Rally: