Updates for the 2017 edition of the East African Safari Classic Rally


(Posted 07th June 2017)

In my early years in Kenya, when the ‘real Safari Rally‘ took place every Easter weekend, did the country turn into a magnet for rally enthusiasts and motor sport fans who flew in their hundreds to Nairobi from their home countries to see man and machine test themselves against the elements, Kenya’s rough back roads and the often unpredictable weather.
Those were the days making today’s memories and the revival of the East African Safari Classic Rally by Mike Kirkland and Co have brought much of the challenges of those days back to an ever growing audience again.
Classic cars, and without meaning any disrespect, classic drivers too will in November fill the motor sport headlines when Safari is again going underway.
As special thank to national airline Kenya Airways for faithfully standing by the event in past years when money was tight, recognizing the huge magnetic effect this sporting event has for the country, for tourism and in fact for the airline itself.
Read on to find out the latest updates from the rally headquarter and look out for periodic additional postings ahead of the November event.

Welcome to the latest Safari Classic Rally newsletter, sharing the continuation of Kenya Airways as our rally’s title sponsor.
Welcome to the latest newsletter for the 2017 East African Safari Classic Rally. Feel free to email pictures of your Safari Classic preparations to mediafor inclusion as an online news item and in the next edition of our newsletter.
Kenya Airways continues Safari Classic Rally sponsorship
Kenya Airways continues as title sponsor for the 2017 East African Safari Classic Rally. This will be the fourth event run with support from our national airline, renowned for spreading the warmth and friendship of East Africa around the world.

Providing a crucial gateway between East Africa and the international community, Kenya Airways is the perfect partner for the Safari Classic Rally. A valued patron since 2011, Kenya Airways supports the rally as one of its key sponsorship initiatives. Safari Classic gives participants an adventure across East Africa, while also offering spectators a spectacular opportunity to travel across the region. Supporters cheer on their favourite teams while also enjoying the often life-changing experience of visiting East Africa.

“Our unique event is held in high esteem by the global rallying family,” notes Safari Classic Rally director, Raju Kishinani. “Combining the positive challenges of historic motorsport with a wonderfully social atmosphere and the timeless charm of East Africa, this legendary endurance rally requires a special partner to radiate its message worldwide. Who better than Kenya Airways to honour this role? We are humbled by their continued support.”

Kishinani’s sentiments are echoed by rally chairman, JS Vohra. As the CEO of Sarova Hotels, which owns many of East Africa’s most famous tourist resorts and safari lodges, Vohra is acutely aware of how important the entire visitor experience is to the rally’s reputation and its international clientele.

“The competitor’s journey to the chequered flag begins as soon as they set off for Kenya,” says Vohra. “The Safari Classic Rally aims to provide a unique and enchanting experience for all of our clients and their travelling partners. We choose to connect with commercial partners who share this ambition and at the top of that list is Kenya Airways. We are delighted to have their support for another exciting Safari Classic event."

Safari Classic Chief visits Morocco Historic Rally
Safari Classic director, Raju Kishinani, recently visited North Africa as an invited guest of the organisers of the Morocco Historic Rally. The 2017 edition of this highly regarded event was a true rallying rollercoaster, with an epic battle for the lead overshadowed by the sad loss of a competitor.
Gérard Brianti was a popular and passionate rallyist and one of life’s true gentlemen. Gérard’s greatest rallying success came with victory at the Monte Carlo Historic rally in 2013, driving his Group 4 Alpine A110. A popular member of the Automobile Club of Monaco, he also held the vice-presidency of ASM, the football club of the Principality. Gérard was 64 years old and his premature departure leaves many good memories with the community. We extend sincere condolences to Gérard’s family and friends.

The loss of BMA driver, Gérard, and concern for his co-driver, Freddy Delorme, led to the BMA team’s retirement as a mark of respect for their team mates. The retirees included Gregoire de Mevius and co-driver Alain Guehennec, who had been enjoying a close battle in their Porsche 911 RS against 2017 Safari Classic Rally entrant, Philippe Gache, and reigning Safari Classic champion co-driver, Stéphane Prevot, in the Mazda RX7.

As the rally entered its closing stages, Gache held the overall lead, with a three-minute gap to the Sunbeam Lotus of Barrile/Chiappe, which was ahead of another confirmed Safari Classic Rally crew: Jorge Perez-Companc and Jose Volta in the Ford Escort RS 1800, prepared at Viking Motorsport.

Behind the Escort lay a familiar car and driver combination: Safari Classic regular, Andrew Siddall and his Datsun 240Z, co-driven for this event by Gary McElhinney. In fifth place overall and just six seconds behind the 240Z was the hard-charging Porsche 911 RS of Belgium’s Joost van Cauwenberge and Steven Vyncke. Joost’s car hails from the Tuthill Porsche stable, and our good friend Francis was also in Morocco with Joost. The 911 took overall victory on last year’s Rally of the Incas and was challenging for a podium here.

As so often happens within sight of the chequered flag, the cards of chance were shuffled. The RX-7 was forced to retire, allowing the Sunbeam to claim final honours, flanked by the Escorts of Perez-Companc/Volta and Bell/Challen. Von Cauwenberge’s Porsche claimed a well-deserved fourth place, with Siddall’s Datsun in fifth.

"It was great to see a mix of machinery at the front of the field and so many other interesting cars down the order," said Raju at the finish. "Highlights included the Citroen SM Bandama confirmed for this year’s Safari Classic and a wonderful Lancia Stratos that may also be in Kenya. What an amazing event: well done to the Morocco Historic team."

Bell & Challen set sights on Safari Classic top step
Geoff Bell’s co-driver, Tim Challen, has spoken of the duo’s determination to attack this year’s Safari Classic Rally. In an interview with Kenya’s Citizen network, Challen outlined the intense preparations undertaken this year, including a recent run on the Morocco Historic Rally in an Escort RS1800, which ended in a satisfying third-place finish (above).

"Morocco was such a great experience for us," said Tim. "The gravel was very smooth and I must admit we enjoyed every bit of it through to the closing control. Having participated in a number of competitions since 2015, we feel we are now in very good form. Chances are high that we will be on the podium in 2017."

Bell and Challen are well placed to succeed in this year’s Safari Classic. Their historic Datsun 260Z has been rested since its victory in the classic category of this year’s Safari Rally. The pair took a Dansport Escort to the third step of the Morocco podium, but the Datsun will be back for the Classic on November 23rd in Mombasa.

Can the duo claim the win that narrowly escaped them in 2011? Who will their strongest rivals be? So many questions as the excitement builds ahead of this year’s event!
Photo from the Morocco Historic website

Safari Rally Mini up for sale at Silverstone
Safari Classic Rally is open to two-wheel drive, normally aspirated rally cars manufactured before the end of 1985. We don’t often mention later Safari rally cars, as they fall outside our remit, but one former Safari Rally car from the late 1990s coming up for sale later this year merits an exception.

This rather special Mini will be offered for sale at the Silverstone Classic Rally auction on July 27th. It is special because it competed on the East African Safari Rally, not once, but an amazing five times: in 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Arriving back in the UK in 2004, it was put into storage until being purchased by Malcolm Huxley and Anne Sealand. They have recently completed a restoration to original 1997 livery, when the car entered its first Safari Rally, sponsored by Corgi Models.

Originally constructed in 1995 by Robert Plant Engineering (RPE Motorsport), the car is described as a fully documented Group A rally car, built to compete on the famous Network Q (RAC) rally. Its competition history also includes the Scottish Rally, Monteburge Rally Sprint in Belgium and Goodwood Festival of Speed rally stages. The car is already a legend, with many Corgi model sets inspired by the Mini. Read more details on the Silverstone Auctions site here.

If a supposedly fragile East German Trabant can successfully complete our challenging event, why not a classic Mini? That would be a great car to see in action here on Safari. All pre-’85 models built to FIA specifications are eligible for entry and they can even run power steering! Contact us to discuss your Safari questions.
Photos courtesy of Silverstone Auctions website

Official Rally Tour and Safari
The official East African Safari Classic Rally tour is an amazing opportunity to experience the awesome splendour of African landscapes and wildlife. It also affords plenty of time to watch the rally action unfolding on the world’s toughest historic motorsport event.

Few experiences compare to exploring the wilds of Kenya and Tanzania by following the legendary Safari Classic Rally through some of our planet’s most famous wildlife reserves and ecological wonders. Our official tour is a truly memorable East African experience.

Download details of the official Rally Tour and Safari here. Contact us for more information.

Jayant Shah and Ravi Chana: Ready for action on Safari Classic
Photo L-R: Jaswinder Chana, Jayant Shah and Ravi Chana on the 2015 Safari Classic Rally

Ravi Chana is fizzing with excitement ahead of this year’s East African Safari Classic Rally, in which he will once again partner renowned Tanzanian rally driver, Jayant Shah.

While Ravi is a highly experienced navigator, with substantial rally mileage clocked up across two decades spent sitting in rally car cockpits, he acknowledges there is always something to learn when sitting alongside one of African rallying’s most experienced competitors. He is also conscious of his rallying heritage, for the seat that Ravi occupies was filled up to 2013 by the great Lofty Drews: part of Safari Rally history, thanks to his victory alongside Shekhar Mehta in 1973.

“Calling the tulips where Lofty once sat gives me great pride,” says Ravi. “When the Safari Classic going gets tough, it is Lofty’s energy that helps me endure this nine-day adventure. Jayant may now be in his seventies, but his record speaks for itself. I have enjoyed every minute of our partnership: especially in the Tanzanian championship. There is always a thing or two to learn from the old guard.”

Though the Shah/Chana partnership was formed many years ago, it was not until 2015 that a space on Safari Classic opened up next to Shah, when Lofty decided to call time on the Classic: an event he famously described as “an adventure before dementia”. Having won the 2wd navigator’s title in Tanzania alongside Jayant in 2013, Nairobi-based Chana was the obvious choice for the vacancy.

When younger, Ravi was mentored by his father and accomplished rally driver, the late Kulwant Singh Chana, before making his rally debut on the 1991 Guru Nanak. Though Chana’s competitive outings are presently confined to Kenya and Tanzania, he has also tackled the Ugandan championship, which is synonymous with hordes of spectators.

In the Kenyan championship, Ravi navigates younger brother, Jasmeet, whom he has successfully guided to several top ten positions. Previously, he navigated elder brother, Jaswinder, who has moved into team logistics and management. The pair scooped the 2012 Kenyan Group S title and Ravi has not rested on his laurels in the intervening years.

While the excitement is high ahead of this year’s Safari Classic Rally, Chana’s expectations are firmly in check. “To finish first, first you have to finish,” says Ravi. “We’ll aim for a trouble-free start, and then see where we are once everyone is into the groove. I trust in my partner and can’t wait to get started.”

Article by Samson Ateka

Learn more about Jayant Shah
Jayant Shah is one of East Africa’s most accomplished rally drivers. Currently competing in the 2WD class of the Tanzania Rally Championship, Jayant was crowned Kenyan National Rally Champion three times in succession from 1982-1984.

Known for his dogged determination, Shah chalked up a rare hat-trick of wins on the prestigious Himalayan Rally in his heyday: in 1983 and 1985 with Aslam Khan co-driving and 1984 with Lofty Drews.

Jayant has, of course, graced several WRC Safari rallies. In 1978 and ’79, Jayant entered the WRC Safari Rally in a Datsun 160J, finishing 9th in 1978 and 12th the year after, navigated on both events by Eisa Najeet.

1984 saw Jayant finish the WRC Rothmans Acropolis Rally with Mike Doughty, but the pair retired with engine gremlins on that year’s Safari. In 1985, Jayant participated in WRC Rally Argentina with Drews, the Rothmans Acropolis Rally with Doughty and then Safari with Ivan Smith, driving a Nissan 240 RS.

Jayant is one of the very few competitors who have participated in all editions of the Safari Classic Rally from 2003 to date. Lofty Drews was his co-driver from 2003-2013, and Ravi Chana stepped in from 2015. The partnership resumes for this year’s Classic, where the duo will once again use a Porsche 911 prepared by Tuthill Porsche.

Shah and Chana tested their Safari Classic Porsche 911 on the Kobil Kilimanjaro Rally of Tanzania and survived the demanding conditions to finish fourth overall.

Send us your story

We love to hear how our competitors and their crews came to Safari and the stories of your preparations and ambitions. We look forward to sharing all photos and stories across our channels between now and the start of the rally. Send your Safari stories tomedia.

Download the latest rally bulletins
For those interested in attending the 2017 Safari Classic Rally or taking part in the event, there is plenty of information available to download on our website.

The full Rally Regulations and the Official Entry Form for the 2017 East African Safari Classic Rally are both available for download here.

Other downloads include updates to the rally regulations, information on hotel upgrades, details of shipping to Mombasa with our partners and technical waiver request forms.

Email us with any questions regarding our rally or to discuss the 2017 event.

Safari Social Media: Follow our Channels
The East African Safari Classic Rally is active across many social media channels. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or check out our website by using the buttons below. Tag us in your pics or share your content with us using the hashtag #safariclassic !
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