Competitors ship their cars for the 2017 Safari Classic Rally!

The East African Safari Classic Rally 2017 News Updates

Two months to go to the 2017 Safari Classic Rally
It is now just 65 days to the start of the 2017 Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic Rally. In workshops throughout Kenya and Tanzania, the biggest names in African rallying are putting the final touches to their classic rally chargers, ready to go head-to-head with Europe’s most respected historic rally teams across the plains of Kenya and Tanzania.

“The original East African Safari Rally is a special event in the hearts and minds of the global rallying community,” says Pipi Renu, General Manager, Safari Classic Rally. “It is a real privilege to evoke the memory of the greatest drivers and adventurers of that period by running the world’s most challenging historic rally every two years in their honour.”

This year’s Safari Classic Rally includes several small but significant tweaks to the rally regulations, which have encouraged many new European competitors to ship their cars to Africa for the nine-day event. Power steering is now permitted on the grounds of comfort and safety, and the cut-off age for cars has been stretched to 1985.

While four wheel-drive and turbocharged cars remain ruled out for safety and balance of performance reasons, extending the age range brings new cars to Safari, including the Group B Mazda RX-7 of Le Mans and Dakar Rally competitor, Frenchman Philippe Gache. Also coming from France is the Daunat Historique squad of Citroen SMs. Fitted with racing Maserati engines, these idiosyncratic machines will be real crowd pleasers amongst the thousands of spectators that always line the Safari Classic Rally route.

“We’ve clocked up thousands of kilometres and spent several weeks surveying the route for this year’s rally, including many stages which have never been rallied before,” notes Renu. “Since its inception in 2003, Safari Classic has been about man and machine tackling the toughest terrain, and the virgin stages take away some of the perceived advantage held by local experts. Completing this year’s Safari Classic Rally will be a real feather in the cap for all who take part.”

As to who will win, that is anyone’s guess. All the top teams have been testing their cars and ironing out the last gremlins, and the entry list is awash with highly competitive Ford Escorts, Porsche 911s and Datsuns of all shapes and sizes, but Safari is always entirely unpredictable: rallies have been lost in the last ten kilometres. The battle is sure to rage hard from the start at Whitesands Mombasa on November 23rd.

Classic partnership continues with Kenya Wildlife Service
We are delighted to confirm our continued partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). A valued supporter through previous Safari Classic rallies, KWS will continue to assist with planning and logistics on our stages through Amboseli National Park, which again forms part of the route for this year’s Safari Classic Rally.

KWS is tasked with the protection and preservation of Kenya’s wildlife populations and natural ecosystems via proactive management and enforcing all related laws and regulations. Protected by a Kenyan Act of Parliament, the devoted labours of Kenya Wildlife Service activists bring inestimable benefits to the Kenyan people and the entire global population.

The Safari Classic Rally partnership with KWS has played a pivotal role in establishing sports tourism as part of Kenya’s international identity and also helped to protect many endangered species.

“One aspect [of this association] which has been of great significance for KWS is that all proceeds from the East Africa Safari Classic Rally go into our sustainability fund, to ensure that wildlife is not endangered,” noted KWS Deputy Director Strategy and Change, Edwin Wanyonyi. “We are proud to be associated with this iconic event. It is our ultimate goal to work with other players to conserve, protect and sustainably manage wildlife resources."

“KWS is a key partner of the Safari Classic Rally,” said the rally’s General Manager, Pipi Renu. “This year’s route features two overnight stops at Amboseli National Park, which is synonymous with the ‘big five’ game animals: namely the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros.”

“Few experiences compare to rallying through the wilds of Kenya, following in the tyre tracks of the original Safari Rally competitors through some of our planet’s most famous wildlife reserves and ecological wonders. We sincerely thank our co-sponsors Kenya Wildlife Service for their unswerving support and offering us this wonderful experience.”

NAC Rally Team ships for Safari
Poland’s favourite historic rally squad, the NAC Rally team, have shared pictures of their Mercedes 350 SLC Safari Rally challenger heading for Kenya. Replacing the 450 SLC driven by Pawel Molgo and Piotr Domownik on the 2015 Safari Classic, the 350 comes with one important advantage for rallying over its big brother: a manual transmission.

"We have remained true to the Mercedes brand, which has had many successes in marathon rallies," says Pawel. "However, we felt that the manual transmission was more suited to us, and since the cars participating in the competition had to comply with FIA homologation, we were forced to downsize our engine to go to a manual.

"Downsizing the engine is not a big issue. The 350’s V8 has similar power to its predecessor and, of course, the engine has been carefully stripped and rebuilt, with spec including forged pistons. We have carried over the suspension and roll cage from the previous car and also lost quite a lot of weight, including removing the superfluous air conditioning from 2015. We improved the cabin, and we enjoy the lower weight of the car!

"Although Piotr and I are born off-roaders, the difficulties we experienced in the previous edition of the East African Safari Classic Rally really surprised us," notes the NAC rally team leader. "The rally was as demanding as the most famous cross-country marathons, and our car was perhaps not best suited to the difficulties. I am sure we are now much better prepared and the equipment will not disappoint us. Our goal for the 2017 Safari Classic Rally is to vanquish the disappointments of our last attempt and to finish as high as possible in the final classification."

Thanks to Mariusz Bodnar and Arek Kwiecien at for their original story.

Armstrong & Sudle Datsun 160J ships for Safari
Kenyan-born Scott Armstrong and Harpal Sudle (now respectively based in Coventry and Leeds) recently finalised the necessary paperwork for their Datsun 160J and shipped the Violet to Kenya for this year’s marathon spectacular.

"Scott worked tirelessly to meet the deadline for shipping," says Harpal. "Three weeks before the due date, we didn’t have an engine and we almost pulled out. We were badly let down by the first engine builder, but then Andy Dawson stepped in to help. Andy is a veteran Safari tech who worked with Nissan back in the old days. We were lucky to get his support. The engine build was completed in time and we made our departure date.”

“Building and preparing a Safari Violet is easily one of the most difficult things I have ever done,” said Scott. “There are nearly no parts or info available and I have had to research every part of the car and get some parts made. Very hard work! But I suppose that’s why everybody takes the easy route and goes for an Escort.

“It’s like a test session for us now, as we didn’t have time to test everything properly. This is a shame, but I am happy to bring the Violet back to Safari. This was one of the most successful cars in the history of Safari but has gone unnoticed over the years: the PA10 160J won 4 times in a row! We are really looking forward to taking the car onto the first stage: the target is 100% reliability and to get to the finish.”

Tuthill Porsche ships for 2017 Safari Classic
Two-time Safari Classic winner, Tuthill Porsche, has shipped its Porsche 911 Safari car fleet to Africa for the 2017 East African Safari Classic Rally.

Three 40-foot shipping containers loaded with cars and parts were loaded onto container trucks headed for Felixstowe. The journey from Felixstowe to Mombasa is expected to take six weeks in total. The containers should arrive in Kenya by the end of October, where they will be transferred to Tuthill Safari HQ at Vipingo Ridge, just outside Mombasa.

“Safari led us to develop a system for maintaining large numbers of cars in remote locations, and this is what we now do on all of our events,” says Richard Tuthill.

“We effectively run a myriad of individual teams, centrally controlled and coordinated. Each car has its own spares kit box – 6ft x 3ft x 3ft – in which there are enough parts and spares to do most of the rally. In addition to these spares kits, we also have a mother ship in the form of a 40ft container that travels everywhere with us. Forty per cent is an air-conditioned parts store, which is racked and loaded with military precision, leaving sixty per cent to hold over two hundred wheels and tyres and other large consumables and equipment.”

The main parts ‘mother ship’ was the first container to leave the team’s base this week, followed by two more containers containing a vast array of parts and four cars in total.

“Some of the cars we are supporting on this year’s rally are already in Kenya and a few more cars will be flown straight to Africa,” notes Tuthill. “While we’re not running double-digit numbers of cars this year as on previous events, it makes things no less interesting to run with a smaller team this time around. The challenge will be just as extreme.”

Viking Motorsport ships for the 2017 Safari Classic
Viking Motorsport recently completed its Safari Rally preparations and shipped the Ford Escort RS 1800 of Jorge Perez Companc and Jose Maria Volta to Kenya, sharing photos on the Viking Motorsport Facebook page.

‘Safari rally 2017 packing finally done and containers leaving this week," commented the team. "It’s a huge task to pack for such an event and 4000 kms over 9 days is one of the great challenges left in rallying today.” Well said!

We look forward to welcoming the team back to Africa. Congratulations to all at Viking Motorsport on a great Escort win in historics on last weekend’s Rally Isle of Man.

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.

Vishram and Ismail fire up the Escort
The 2017 Safari Classic Rally will be Ramesh Vishram’s fourth appearance behind the wheel of a Ford Escort Mark 2. While Vishram has experienced technological evolutions across several different eras of rallying, he confesses to a growing soft spot for simple and reliable Ford Escorts Mk 2s.

“Nothing beats the nine-day adventure of the East African Safari Classic Rally in the cockpit of a classic Ford Escort,” says the reigning Kenyan Classic Car champion. “While I was part of the legendary East African Safari Rally before its removal from the WRC calendar, Safari Classic is a completely different challenge.

"The long sections are incredible: it is literally doing a Kenyan National Rally Championship event, every day for nine days! Driving and maintaining the car on a continuous basis entails mental and physical stamina, as well as sound planning and a reliable team too.

Vishram tackled the 2011 and 2013 Safari Classics with Atul Kochhar, before teaming with Rohit Bhudia for the most recent event. The 54 year-old starts this year’s Classic with a Safari rookie alongside.

Riyaz Ismail has never competed on the Classic Safari, but has gathered substantial experience as a controller and service crew member. The potential for a pairing like Ramesh and Riyaz to spring a surprise by maintaining a consistent pace while staying out of trouble can never be ruled out on Safari.

“It’s always great to contest the world’s greatest historic motorsport event, so sincere thanks to Cementers Racing and also to Ramesh for this golden opportunity,” smiles Riyaz. “I previously served in team management for Aslam Khan’s ALS squad and am delighted to be back in a different capacity. 2017 has been my eighth year in the KNRC and sixth year in Kenyan Rally Raids, but to finally secure a Safari Classic co-driver’s seat is one of the highlights of this season.

“I have tasted marathon rallying, when Ramesh and I finished sixth overall in the Rift 1000 Classic Rally. I’m sure my Rally Raid experience will come in handy, as the tulip system is more or less the same as what we work to during off road competitions.”

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 to media.

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.

The latest Competitor Information Updates include:

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 !
color-facebook-48.png Facebook
color-twitter-48.png Twitter
color-instagram-48.png Instagram
color-link-48.png Website


%d bloggers like this: