Abarth/Fiat looks strong on Safari

From Chris Biewer [ 10/03/2007 ].
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After SS6 Abarth/Fiat has a firm grip on the Safari Rally leaderbord. Unfortunately with this being the first IRC event and about the most specialised rally in the world, it is at the moment difficult to get accurate stage by stage results. Even the drivers themselves suffer from that. However it is clear that Andrea Navarra in his works Abarth Grande Punto S2000 has moved into a convincing lead at the half way point of leg1. And this is clearly the tougher leg of the rally.

 

The day started off with the longest stage of the rally. The Elementaita stage circles around 2 vulcanoes in the Rift Valley. Altogether 5 stages have been covered in the region before returning to the service on the south edge of Lake Elementaita. The same stages are repeated this afternoon with the final leg being held on 8 not quite as classic and long stages south of Nairobi tomorrow.

At this point, after SS6 Andrea Navarra in the Fiat Grande Punto has moved past early leader Hideaki Miyoshi in the Mitsubishi Lancer EvoIX. Navarra's team mate Umberto Scandola is currently in 2nd place, making it an Abarth/Fiat 1-2. However Scandola feels he is a long way off putting a thread on his more experienced team mate and will be more concentrating on defending Fiat's strong position.

Andrea Navarra commented: “I knew it was going to be tough, but it’s even more challenging than I expected. One of the biggest problems we had was one I only realised this morning. We completed the recce in a large 4x4, where you have a really good view of the road ahead and all the potential traps. In the rally car though you are much lower down, so it is a lot more difficult to see the rocks and holes. It would be so easy to make a mistake."

To add to the challenge, the weather is at the moment dry and very hot, with temperatures rising further for the afternoon loop.

One competitor who will not be seeing the end of the rally is Kenyan driver Lee Rose. His Mitsubishi completed the first 36-kilometre stage of the day to end up in the top five, but his car stalled at the finish control and would not re-start.

More accurate results we will display as soon as we get them.