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Italian Amos crowned 2023 East African Safari Classic Rally champion

 Driver Eugenio Amos and assisted by navigator Paolo Ceci (left) celebrate their 11th edition of the East Africa Safari Classic Rally win at Diamond Leisure Golf Club, Diani on Monday. Dec 18, 2023. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

After nine days of high-octane action, the 2023 East African Safari Classic Rally (EASCR) is finally over with 'Italian Giraffe' Eugenio Amos and his navigator Paolo Ceci being crowned champions.

The Tuthill Porsche 911 speedsters clocked 14:42:35.2 to win the 4,000km race with 10 minutes 45 seconds lead at the top.

This successfully saw their crowning at the lush Diani Golf Course in Ukunda on Monday afternoon.

Last year's champion, Kenya's Baldev Chager, co-driven by compatriot Gareth Dawe in a Porsche 911, clocked 14:53:20.2 to finish second.

The 2019 champion Kris Rosenberger of Austria and his German wife Nicola Bleicher were third in 15:11:40.2 in their Tuthill Porsche 911.

Another Tuthill Porsche 911, driven by Bonamy Grimes of Kenya and navigator Martin Rowe scooped fourth place in 15:32:56.3.

It was Ian Duncan, co driven by Jaspal Matharu, who broke the Porsche dominance in the rally after he timed 16:12:10.4 to finish fifth.

 Driver Baldev Chager and assisted by navigator Gareth Dawe joined by the team to celebrate their second position during the award and closing ceremony at Diamond Leisure Golf Club, Diani on Monday. Dec 18, 2023. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Out of the 63 drivers who started the race on December 8, only 51 managed to make it to the finish line in Diani.

While savouring their victory, Amos, who led the race for five consecutive days, said the victory is yet to sink in.

"I just can't believe this. I'm still digesting this win. I'm I really the champ?" he posed.

He summarised the entire journey saying it was really tough but their calmness, focus and ability to avoid more troubles on the road is what worked out for them.

"Actually, we were living in the moments, we were taking one day at a time. Again, I want to thank Chager for being a worthy competitor. His determination to chase us everyday is what kept us alert and on our toes. We knew with every slight mistake, he would have zoomed past us."

Amos first visited Kenya in 2012 while on honeymoon. He did his first Classic Rally in 2019 but was not successful.

While giving his account of the rally, Chager said this year's competition was really different as it had unique challenges in every corner they took.

 East African Safari Classic Rally (EASCR) driver Emile Breittmayer assisted by navigator Alexis Thomas arrive from Meshanani at Amboseli Sopa Lodge without a bonnet during the 11th edition of EASCR in Kajiado County. Dec 17, 2023. [Jonah Onyango, Standrd]

"It was the most challenging in my entire career," Chager said.

Chager too praised Amos saying he's an amazing speedster.

"He was super quick, he kept his car all together, the vehicle was super strong, some of the lines he was taking over the roughs left me in awe, I was quite impressed with his vehicle," Chager said.

"As a person, Amos is one of the most fantastic people I have ever met in my life. He's friendly, always happy and I'm glad to make friends like him during this event," Chager added.

Rosenberger was glad to have finally made it to the podium after a horrendous outing last year, which saw him strike a tree trunk.

"It was hard this year too. We had to battle five punctures, repair damaged suspensions, got stuck on the mud, but I'm glad we made it to the podium," Rosenberger said.

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