Safari mid day updates

Safari mid day updatesFrom Chris Biewer [ 04/04/2009 ].
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Lee Rose stamped his authority on the first loop of proper Safari stages. It is a loop of 3 stages, 2 of which are close to 50km long each! The overnight leader was Kenyan champions Baldev Chager in his Subaru. However once leaving Nairobi, things were no longer on Chager’s side. In SS2 Rose passes him fair and square, the next stage Chager lost 9 minutes for mechanical problems and is well outside the top10 now.

The first proper stage is a real classic. The Elementeita stage actually starts near Gilgil near the Nairobi-Eldoret main road, goes into the Rift Valley and the road winds through partly forestry area between several(!) vulcanoes! It seems Lee Rose likes this stage a lot. In IRC Safari 2007 Lee Rose alongside Ugandan Subaru driver Riyaz Kurji were fastest on this stage, but both retired with mechanical problems immediately after. In 2008 Lee Rose pulled half a minute out of everyone on this stage and went on to win the rally. In 2009 the Elementeita stage is actually 10km longer than previous versions, but Lee shows consistancy, winning it again by exactly half a minute!


With Chager still 2nd, the most interesting bit in IRC terms is the 4th makes points place for the all ladies team Lola & Mégane Verlaque in a VW South Africa run Polo S2000.


However with these we also have the main victims for the second long stage in a row, SS3: Overnight leader Chager lost 9 minutes with mechanical problems on his Subaru, while the Volkswagen, challenging Mitsubishi for IRC makes points, retired for good.


The stage was another near 50km stage, also in Rift Valley area, but completely different in character. This stage is run on the Ranch of Lord Delamere. While the first stage was twisty and technical in extremely mythique scenery, this one starts out on farm roads with long, long straights followed by square corners. Only towards the end this stage turns more twisty and technical.


This stage accoringly served us some interesting changes, brilliant drives as well as the problems for Chager and Verlaque. Alister Cavenagh moved from 8th overall to 3rd in the IRC standings in this stage alone. 3rd overall, but with a Subaru not entitled for IRC points, is African championship leader Jamie Whyte. Overnight he was not even in the top10!


SS4 then was a short blast along the Lake Elementeita. It was Lee Rose’s 3rd stage win of the morning and behind him the positions also stayed largely the same as before.


However it is bound to not stay like this. The afternoon has a repeat of the 3 morning stages, including both the very different character stages that are close to 50km long each! When did we last have a 50km stage in WRC? In IRC we celebrated a 60km stage in San Remo. Here we have 4 such monsters in a day, 2 still to come!