Day 9 Roundup: Safari Congratulations and Conclusions

Well, the rally is over. In the end, we won and took sixth place: our Iowa farm boy philanthropist beating Race4Change’s fourth car, driven by a six-time Kenyan Rally Champion. That was Ian Duncan, who finished seventh.

I’m waiting for the pics to confirm, but I believe we enjoyed a very symbolic moment when the truly magnificent Fabrizia Pons and similarly legendary Yvonne Mehta – wife of the awesome Shekhar Mehta, five time Safari winner and guru of African rallying – took our number 24 car across the finish line: two of motorsport’s greatest female competitors closing our rally by embodying what empowered women are capable of.

Pics of that and more Race4Change news to come, but here’s the day 9 roundup courtesy of the Safari Rally Press Office. Kudos to Francesca Davenport for doing such an amazing job on the press for this event!

Day 9: 2011 Safari Classic Rally

On the last day, the priority of all crews was to drive their cars over the finishers’ ramp at Mombasa, come hell or high water. And there have been plenty of both on this incredible adventure of a rally. Out of the forty-six crews that started the rally nine days ago, forty-three crews set off from Voi this morning for the final day of competition: an impressive number of survivors on this epic event combining endurance with high speed competition over some of the toughest terrain and through some of the toughest conditions.

Bjorn and Mathias Waldegård, who were leading the event yesterday by twenty-four minutes, took it cautiously all day in their Porsche 911, setting respectable times but by no means the fastest. “It was a cruising day today,” said Waldegård. “And we didn’t put in an attack. I’m very glad to be here and very, very glad to have won the rally. Mathias has done an absolutely brilliant job and done everything 100%.”

Second-placed crew Geoff Bell and Tim Challen were also taking things easy in their Datsun 260Z but still suffered two punctures in the last section. “We had two punctures only 400 metres apart from each other,” said Bell. “And we managed to bend a rim. I’m very glad to be here. We’ve been taking it easy today but maybe that was problem!”

Third placed Stig Blomqvist and Ana Goni also decided not to push too hard in their Ford Escort. “It’s been a really hard rally this year,” said Blomqvist. “But that’s the way it is on the Safari.”

As the cars went over the ramp at the Sarova Whitesands hotel in Mombasa there had been no change in the top three from yesterday. After an impressive battle with several top crews, Waldegård was the overall winner by thirty-five minutes from Bell. This is the first Porsche victory on the Safari rally. Third place overall went to Blomqvist who, despite hitting major problems with a broken axle on the first day, had climbed up from thirty-first position and was forty-one minutes behind Bell.

On the first 27 km section in the Taita foothills Gérard Marcy and Stéphane Prévot set fastest time by only five seconds from Steven Funk and Andrew Doig in another Porsche 911, while third fastest time went to Ian Duncan and Amaar Slaatch in their Ford Capri. Waldegård set only twelfth fastest but with, twenty-four minutes in hand over Bell, it was clear that the former World Rally Champion had a safe steady finish in his sights.

The second section of the day was the rally’s first section in reverse with a small twist in the centre. Funk was clearly getting into his stride on this fast open section, setting quickest time by over half a minute from Duncan, while Perez, who also went well in the first section, set third fastest. Waldegård set eighth fastest time and his lead over Bell had now been diminished to twenty-two minutes but, with only 45 competitive kilometres and the road section back to Mombasa left to go, the Swedish crew clearly didn’t want to take any risks.

The last section was not without its problems. Second overall crew Geoff Bell and Tim Challen hit problems in their Datsun 260Z when they had two punctures in quick succession and bent a rim, losing at least ten minutes. Fortunately for Bell he had a substantial lead over third placed Blomqvist and managed to maintain his second place overall, putting him between two former World Rally Champions on the podium which is no mean feat! This meant that Waldegård’s lead extended to thirty-five minutes over Bell, whilst the gap between second placed Bell and third placed Blomqvist was reduced to just under forty-one minutes.

Steve Troman and Michael Nutt set fastest time on this last section in their Porsche 911 with Marcy setting second fastest and Duncan setting third fastest. This meant the top three remained the same from yesterday, as did the top ten indicating that everyone was adopting a cautious approach to ensure a safe finish.

Multiple Safari competitor Marcy finished in fourth place in his Porsche 911, followed by Steve Perez and Staffan Parmander in their Datsun 260Z in fifth place. Sixth place was taken by Steven Funk and Andrew Doig in their Porsche 911 who had put in a reliable performance throughout the rally and set their first fastest time on today’s second section.

Current Kenyan Rally Champion Ian Duncan finished in seventh place alongside co-driver Amaar Slatch. The Ford Capri crew were in the top three for the first part of the rally but dropped down to 22nd place due to mechanical problems on the third day but managed to pull up to seventh place overall.

Although getting on the podium of this remarkable event is an incredible achievement so too is making the finishers’ ramps, which was clear by the huge smiles on each and every one of the crews that finished today. Indeed, it’s difficult to find words to describe the experience of competing on this event but, one thing’s for sure, it’s definitely addictive.

About John Glynn

John Glynn is the owner of Ferdinand Porsche Magazine and resident Race4Change media expert & blogger. John owns five classic Porsche cars and knows the Porsche scene inside out. Check out his articles on the Ferdinand Porsche Blog at www.ferdinandmagazine.com.
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