Tuthill Porsche 911s claimed four of the top eight places on the recent five-day Top Fry Classic Rally through Kenya’s Laikipia and Baringo counties. Thirty seven cars started the 1500-kilometre rally, including five Tuthill-built Porsche 911 Safari cars and one Safari Beetle, built by Francis Tuthill in his secret workshop at the bottom of the garden.
Alastair Cavenagh mounted a strong challenge right from the start, setting the fastest time on stage eight and running in the podium places up to the end of day three. Nursing long-time back problems and a failed brake hose towards the end of the rally, this tough five-day trial was a relentless physical test for Alastair and co-driver Gavin Laurence, who eventually finished the rally in fourth place overall.
Tanzania’s great champion, Jayant Shah, came home sixth: first among a handful of non-Kenyan drivers to take part in the rally. Sitting alongside Ravi Chana in the Light Yellow Porsche 911, Jayant enjoyed a reliable event supported by his local crew under the guidance of a Tuthill mechanic.
Aslam and Arshad Khan finished seventh overall, with Rob Linck and Imran Khan close behind. Both Tuthill-built cars have enjoyed long careers in African rallying and finishing well inside the top ten on this notoriously harsh event is testament to their strength and the talent of their crews.
Britain’s Andrew Siddall switched from his regular perch in a Datsun Z to run one of our older cars which had been resting in Kenya since Safari 2015. Car supply issues left Andrew without a drive until this one was located in storage at the very last minute. Andrew and co-driver, Gary McElhinney, finished in the top three on stage six and eventually came home in twentieth position: a super effort on their 911 debut.
Last but most definitely not least is the driver and car so beloved of rally fans on social media: Francis in his Beetle, which has had some small but important upgrades since its debut outing on this event a couple of years ago. Running with a mere 90 bhp compared to cars running over 300 bhp in some cases, Francis and co-driver Raju Chaggar finished just outside the top twenty. No doubt there will be plenty of news to catch up on when the company founder arrives back in the UK later this week.
The eventual winners of the Top Fry Classic Safari were Baldev Chager/Ravi Soni in a Porsche 911, followed by Geoff Bell/Tim Challen in their famous 240Z and Onkar Rai/Des Page-Morris in another 911. Twenty-nine cars were classified finishers and our congratulations go to all for a job well done.