Coyne sets pace in Classic Rally prologue

Driver Jakub Grochola and Co-driver Michal Jucewicz in Opel Manta 400 during the 11th edition of the East African Safari Classic Rally 2023 at Vipingo Ridge Resort, on Saturday.[Jonah Onyango, Standard]

John Coyne of Ireland, navigated by compatriot Josh Mcerlean, stamped his authority on his debut by clinching the 15.5km East African Safari Classic Rally (EASCR) prologue held on Saturday at the Vipingo Ridge in Kilifi.

Coyne clocked 15:37.9 to lead the prologue or the shakedown that gave the drivers seeding ahead of rally proper on Sunday.

The 63 speedsters in contention also used the occasion to have a feel of their machines ahead of Day 1 that will cruise them from Mombasa to Voi.

Kris Rosenberger of Austria, navigated by his German wife Nicola Bleicher, ended the prologue second in 15:46.1.

The Austrian said he's not under any pressure to win the rally but will be happy with a respectable finish.

The rally maverick and former winner of the Classic Safari (2019), is always known for his fearless approach to rally driving.

He always expresses unwavering confidence in the game.

"I'm geared up to take on the challenges that this iconic rally has to offer," stated Rosenberger.

Defending champion and multiple national rally winner Baldev Chager, who finished the prologue eighth in 16:07.9, noted there’s always pressure to be first on the road and that's never really an advantage.

Chager is seeking to be responsible and sensible and take care of what him and his navigator will be doing behind the wheel during the tedious journey.

Ian Duncan (16:25.4) was ranked 13th in the shakedown.

Duncan is spinning a Datsun 280 Z now christened the 'Flying Sausage' following his support from Farmers Choice who sponsored him to win the 1994 WRC Safari Rally.

The two-time Classic Rally winner is looking for a hat-trick in the ongoing global motorsports showpiece.

A rally veteran with a storied career, Duncan's return to the Classic Rally is met with eager and anticipation.

Duncan reflects on the upcoming challenge, noting that this year’s rally will be very interesting.

“I think the unpredictability of the weather is definitely something to watch out for, it will make the competition interesting," he said.

The prologue had a Spectator Park area where fans were thrilled as they enjoyed the start of the rally.

Day 1 of the rally today will cover a total of 358.86km from Mombasa to Voi.

It has three stages namely Sokoke-Samburu (120km), McKinnon -Mwatate (89km) and Mariwenyi- Ngutuni (31km).

The vehicles will rest overnight at the Voi Wildlife Lodge.

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