KENYA AIRWAYS SPONSORS THE 2013 EDITION OF ‘EAST AFRICAN SAFARI CLASSIC RALLY’
(Posted 04th November 2013)
One of the rally sport’s most popular events, if today not THE most popular one, the Kenya Airways East African Classic Safari Rally, is once again taking place this year and will run from the 21st to the 29th of November. Full house has been reported with the permitted 60 spots all taken up while at least 10 more potential entrants are on standby, should one of the confirmed participants have to drop out at the last minute.
Many Safari Rally fans have never forgiven the international sports body for axing the safari rally as a World Championship event, which took place every year over the Easter weekend. It was then that hundreds of volunteers had the time to flock to the teams to support them and the organizers, but as Easter is a variable holiday it no longer suited the bureaucratic officials to change their programming every year. The motor sports body at the time also had issues with having a rally run over at times in excess of 5.000 kilometres and progressively forced the Kenyan organizers to cut this down further and further, until in the end on only a shadow of the past glory of the match of car and driver against some of the roughest tracks on the planet remained.
Revived by none other than repeat runner up and local racing legend Mike Kirkland, in the format of the Classic Safari Rally, the biannual event has swiftly brought the aficionados of old together again and spectators as well as racers once again meet, often deep in the Kenyan ‘bush’ where the cars have to driver over grueling terrain and face both dust and mud to the delight of onlookers, as kilometre long dust trails rise behind the speeding cars while on other spots they have to splash their way through muddy sections, if they do not get stuck in the mire.
The car lineup this year will again include the venerable Porsche 911 but also multiple winning car Datsun, as the Nissans were called back then. Winner of the 2011 event Bjorn Waldegaard from Sweden, a multiple world champion, will race again against 2009 winner, local Kenyan Ian Duncan and another 58 other entrants, trying to defend his title from two years ago. Cars entered must all be pre 1978, using the ordinary manufacturers’ engines with turbo technology barred to level the playing field like in the old days, when Volkswagen Beetles competed with Porsches, Mercedes’ and even Ferraris. And like in those days, all the cars have to use regular fuels available at petrol stations in Kenya or Tanzania, while servicing the vehicles too is restricted to a mere two hours at the end of each stage. The sight of those classic cars alone is expected to draw crowds numbering thousands to the main viewing points and the start and finish locations of the various stages.
In its original format did the rally cover all three East African countries, but following rather negative experiences with their first and so far only sojourn into Uganda after the revival of the Classic Rally, the event was since then restricted to race through Kenya and Tanzania only.
This year’s rally, running over a distance of some 4.100 kilometres, will start and end in Mombasa, flagged off on the 21st November at 08.30 hrs and will end with the declaration of the results by the stewards on the 29th November at 17.00 hrs followed by the gala and prize giving ceremony at 19.00 hrs the same day.
Kenya Airways is once again the main sponsor of the event, of special significance this year as tourism to the Kenya coast has taken a serious downturn, bringing the spotlight back on a country which, inspite of a recent event remains largely safe and continues to be a prime vacation destination, for safaris and for beach holidays. For more information on the rally visit www.eastafricansafarirally.com or www.facebook.com/EastAfricanSafari or else pay a visit to www.kenya-airways.com and www.magicalkenya.com