Today is exactly one year ago since the start of the 2015 East African Safari Classic Rally. Fast wifi was thin on the ground in Kenya, so most of our reporting was limited to Richard’s video blogs, when we could find a connection quick enough to upload them. As we prepare for the 2017 Safari, we’re looking back at our rally and reporting on the events of the day, one year ago. Time is running out to enter next year’s event!
Rally Day 1: Heat and Mud
The first day of the 2015 Safari Classic Rally was a 160-kilometre loop of stages, all held to the north of Mombasa. The service trucks left Whitesands at 5:45 in the morning, arriving into first service well ahead of the cars. Another truck went north to Malindi, ready to top the cars up with fuel as they came through the town. All crews would then meet for a quick service at the end of stage two, before the day’s final two-hour service and parc fermé on the outskirts of Mombasa.
The El Nino phenomenon had caused torrential rainstorms in Kenya before Safari. Many stage routes were flooded, submerging bridges and other dangerous obstacles. The lack of obvious detours forced some stages to be cancelled. CS3 on day one was the first cancelled stage, leaving just two stages to run.
We had an interesting start to the rally, when the 911s of Roger Samuelsson and Gérard Marcy both rolled on the first day’s stages. As ever, our protective roll cages did their job and the crews emerged unharmed. Serious flooding on the second stage caused huge headaches for many competitors but at the end of Day 1, four of the top five cars were Tuthill-built 911s, with Alastair Cavenagh/Gavin Lawrence using all of their local knowledge to take an early lead. We were the only team to use mud tyres for this section of the rally, which was a sizeable gamble at the time. It later proved to have been the right decision.
Samuelsson’s orange 911 was inspected at end-of-day service. Though the damage was severe, it was mainly cosmetic. The car would be repaired in Mombasa and rejoin the rally after rest day. Gérard Marcy was not so lucky, however. Gérard’s wrist had been fractured in his high-speed roll, so the Belgian driver was forced to retire. Co-driver Eric Gressens travelled with us for the rest of the rally.
Tomorrow: Rally Day 2