Safari day9&10 - Rob Colinge wins

Safari day9&10 - Rob Colinge winsFrom Chris Biewer [ 19/12/2003 ].
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The last two sections of the 2003 Kenya Airways East African Safari have confirmed the top3 positions. Rob Collinge and Anton Levitan have won the 50th anniversary East African Safari Rally in their Datsun 240Z. 47m55s down was Frédéric Dor in 2nd with Stuart Rolt in 3rd, both driving Porsche 911. Day9 was really tough, through Tanzania all the way, alongside Mount Kilimanjaro and including the section that in 1963 eliminated the entire field bar 7 cars. Crews were competing until way into darkness. This was followed today by a short and relaxed day along the coast of the Indian Ocean, back into Kenya and to the finish on the Mombasa beach. However the rally was not over until the finish ramp, the last two legs claimed a few teams in most dramatic style!

The main casualties were John Lloyd, Richard Martin-Hurst and Robert Kaugi. Kaugi was driving the only Ford Capri in the field. However he and navigator Willy Mburu had a dramatic accident on a hillside section on day9 so tight and twisty that Michèle Mouton nick named it "just like Corsica on gravel". The Capri went off the hillside violently. The crew was unhurt, but the car was finished. ironically their case was added to when their service crew came out for rescque but never arrived after running out of fuel on the way!

A probably even worse accident was suffered by John Lloyd on the very last day. John describes himself: “We barrel-rolled the car in the first section of the day and it then caught fire. It’s completely destroyed, along with all our passports, licenses and paperwork. It’s obviously disappointing after such a long event, but the important thing is that Paul and I are okay.” Holy ...., err, you insert what you feel appropriate!

Richard Martin-Hurst and Tony Devantier in their Rover 3500 V8 are actually classified and were present with their car at the Mombasa finish, but they had their hearts broken as well. On day8 the Rover lost water and it was thought the car had blown the head gasket. On day9 however everything seemed to be fine again and following John Lloyd's incident the Rover looked on course even for a top10 finish. But nope, it wasn't to be: “We had a broken main rear spring after the first section today and then realised at the start of the second that all the front suspension was hanging off. It was too dangerous to carry on so we drove non-competitively to the finish. We’re pleased to be at the end, but it’s obviously disappointing to have missed the last two sections; the only ones we’ve missed all event. It’s an old car, but it held up well; it’s not really built for these conditions.”

And if you thought all this is bad, look at these guys list - and still they apparently failed on their objective to kill the car! Peter Banham and Bettyann Banham, Mercedes 220SE after day9: “We’ve had a catalogue of problems, from silicone in the fuel tank in the opening legs, to hydraulics and the wrong size con rods. We’ve had to have pistons re-welded, we blew the head gasket, an oil seal has gone on the back and the starter’s broken. Having said that, we’ve only missed day five of competition and the middle section yesterday when the shock absorber bracket broke. The car’s done 40,000 competitive kilometres; I couldn’t hire it to anyone else so we thought we’d kill it here! Betty was 60 last week, it’s my 60th in a couple of months, we’ve been married 25 years and this is the 50th anniversary event. We’ve blown all our savings to do it and we have to drive over the finish ramp, not push the car; drive it. We competed in this event in 1982 and didn’t finish; it’s the only international rally we’ve not finished in over 50 events; we had to do it.”

In the overall final results, the top3 we already mentioned. There was a hot battle for 4th place and this stayed exciting right until the end of the last stage. Andrew Barnes came 4th in the leading David Sutton Escort. However Porsche driver Bruce Field was only 4m43s down in 5th with another Escort of Iain Freestone being another 6m24s behind. These gaps are like seconds in a WRC event, remember the crews have covered near 5000km of which 1553.65km were competitive, about the distance of 4 WRC events and that in Africa!

The event is now over after 10 days! But the results are indeed still very fresh. Please keep looking out for two more articles coming soon with further results, tales and reflections!