East African Safari Classic Rally – weekend report
1984 World Rally champion, Stig Blomqvist continues to the lead the East African Safari Classic Rally after day four of the event. However, the Swede didn’t have it all his own way over the weekend.
On Friday, the action was shortened from three stages to two, albeit still consisting of 154 kilometres of competitive running. ‘Ndi 2’ opened the day with its mix of flowing mountain roads and twisting downhill sections.
As a legacy of his success on day one, Blomqvist was first on the road and, therefore, first to encounter any obstructions. Slowed by traffic, the Swede lost time and the rally lead.
“Being first on the road in Africa is such a problem – there are a lot of obstacles and on the first stage there were a lots of cars, and then some more cows. Those cows just get everywhere’, Blomqvist explained.
Fellow Swede, Björn Waldegård had his own problems to deal with on the opening stage. His son, and co-driver, Mathias was suffering from severe motion sickness, effecting his ability to navigate.
Despite this, the father-son duo managed to set the fourth fastest time, as Ian Duncan headed the overall standings after finishing the stage second in his Ford Capri.
Friday’s second stage was a masterclass from Waldegård. Finishing the 116-kilometre ‘Isineti’ stage in a time of 64 minutes, the 1979 WRC champion averaged over 100kph across the rough terrain.
Blomqvist would finish the stage sixth, 49 seconds down on Duncan, to finish the day just over a minute behind the Ford in the overall standings. Waldegård had consolidated third, with Gerard March fifth in another Tuthill 911.
After the high of winning Friday’s second stage, Saturday’s opening point-to-point brought Waldegård back to earth after the Swede rolled his Tuthill Porsche 911 out of the 2013 East African Safari Classic Rally.
Both Björn and Mathias were unscathed but, with the latter showing some signs of concussion, the pair were airlifted to Nairobi for a hospital check up.
The day proved more productive for Blomqvist who closed to within 15 seconds of Duncan in the overall classification.
Despite a gearbox problem on the day’s opening stage, Blomqvist finished second, over 90 seconds ahead of his closest rival. This gave the Swede the overall lead heading into the eighth stage.
Stage eight saw the Swede, co-driven by Staffan Parmander, finish fourth, losing exactly thirty seconds to Duncan’s Ford. A similar result on stage nine saw the lead Porsche 911 driver end Saturday just 15 seconds from the head of the table.
With Waldegård’s demise, Gerard Marcy and Stephan Prevot moved up to fourth overall, nearly five minutes ahead of their closest challenger, maintaining Tuthill Porsche’s strong presence in the top five.
In the end, Saturday proved to be the prologue to Sunday’s main act for Blomqvist and Parmander. In an action packed day, the Swedes finally snatched the lead back come the close of play.
Struggling with a brake problem, Blomqvist wedged his Tuthill Porsche 911 in a typically soft, African sand bank on the opening stage. After losing “about six or seven minutes”, the Swedes dropped to fourth overall.
However, their luck was to change on Sunday’s second stage. At 116 kilometres long, ‘Bulls Eye 1’ was a tough test for the competitors, with third-placed Gregoire De Mevius running off the road in his non-Tuthill 911.
Further aiding Blomqvist’s charge, erstwhile rally leader, Duncan suffered three punctures. This catapulted Blomqvist back into the overall lead, finishing the day with a 50 second advantage over the recovering Ford Capri.
Marcy and Prevot moved their Porsche 911 onto the podium, finishing the weekend in third, as David and Alex Horsey ended the day seventh after another solid performance.
Keep up to date with Tuthill’s East African Safari Classic Rally with daily updates here at Total911.com.