In the 9 days since the start of this Classic Safari rally, our cars have had to endure suspension damage, fuel problems, sand attack, electrical gremlins, wayward navigation and more. Though our 911s now occupy 4 of the top 9 places, the East African Safari Classic Rally continues to be the ultimate challenge for Team Tuthill Porsche.
One of the biggest challenges on Safari is tyres: how to get the most from them without pushing them into unreliability. Though it’s temping for the inexperienced to regard desert driving/broken road events as not tyre critical, that is quite a misapprehension.
Tyre choice is a key consideration for us, especially on an event like this. With such long stages over very mixed surfaces, the last thing a driver needs is to start off on the wrong tyres, or the right tyres at the wrong pressures, and have to do a 60 km stage losing valuable time, right the way through.
The other important balance to find on tyres for endurance rally events is robust construction versus weight versus grip. In the last two days, most of our drivers have had punctures and they have cost the team dearly. Steve Troman and Calvin Cooledge were hardest hit today, losing time and position as a result of three punctures. Gerard Marcy and Stephane Prevot also found themselves with a flat; not the news you want when you are trying to keep pressure on the third place man.
Jarry and Andreoli had tyre problems yesterday, but today was relatively straightforward from a rubber point of view. The Flohr/Breton and Aguirre/Mirasol cars both enjoyed a day free of tyre troubles.
At time of writing, Martin Aguirre remains the only driver who has not yet suffered a puncture during this entire event. This is a credit to Martin’s driving, and the care with which he treats the car. As we always say, sympathy for the underpinnings is an important part of marathon events, and reliability always stands a driver in good stead.
Though our highest placed driver remains a way off the lead, as long as stage miles still remain, anything can happen.