Richard’s video diary from the end of the first stage on the final day of the 2019 East African Safari Classic Rally shows just how much tension had gathered as the end of the rally drew closer.
“The cars went into the stage six seconds apart and we’re expecting them any minute now,” whispers Richard. “We’ve got a couple of stopwatches on them to see what their progress has been. To say it’s a nervous wait is an understatement. The tracking may have been a bit deceiving: it looks like Stig may have dropped back and then subsequently got ahead of Kris, but you don’t believe anything until the cars arrive.”
The video shows motorcycles entering the stage, against the flow of traffic. This is always a concern on Safari, as the cars race on live public roads. There are so many hazards to contend with across this nine-day event that it’s a blessing just to reach the finish line, whatever one’s overall position.
As the cars arrived at the stage end and the times were verified, it became clear that the hunters had succeeded: Kris Rosenberger and Nicola Bleicher were leading the rally by over a minute. “We had no option but to give the guy in front a run for his money,” said Kris. “We drove absolutely flat out and the car felt so amazing. Now we’re getting nervous, with just one stage remaining.”
The nerves were unfounded. Stig had a small roll between the stages and although the car was undamaged, the challenge was over. “Second place was tough work but good fun. Thank you everyone,” said Stig at the finish.
“Rally is not just about cars and roads, it’s about people,” said Kris. “After our surprising win on the East African Safari Classic Rally, thanks to all the people who made it happen and also those that made it fun, too! Thank youto my navigator Niki for putting up with me, not getting me lost and letting me really go for it today, risking not only the car but the entire rally.
“There are only two of us in the car, but the team behind us is huge. Thanks to Tuthill Porsche, the greatest crew in the world, for keeping us going and to the gentleman of rallying – world champion Stig Blomqvist – for showing us the way.”
Behind Kris, Stig finished second, leading the three Race4Health cars home inside the top six. Philip Kadoorie and Ryan Champion finished fourth overall – an incredible debut performance from Philip – with Eugenio Amos and Roberto Mometti in seventh position, Joe and Kate Hayes finished twelfth and Renée and Juliette Brinkerhoff brought the 1956 Porsche 356A home in fifteenth position.
The podium and prizegiving celebrations will go on late into the night and most of our team will have a few days to pack up before flying home. Some will stay longer to prepare the cars and containers for shipping and then we’ll have a few months off from Safari, before preparations begin for the next Safari Classic Rally in 2021. Get in touch soon if a Safari Rally entry is on your bucket list: these cars take months to prepare and our waiting list is already substantial.
Thanks to everyone who has followed our 2019 Safari Rally journey: we hope you enjoyed the adventure. Here is Richard’s final video diary from the event. See you in two years!