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How Safari Classic Rally lived up to its billing

Motorsport
 Evgeny Kireev of Cyprus a top his transparent Porsche 911 at the ongoing East African Safari Classic Rally. [Jonah Onyango, SStandrd]

The 11th edition of the East African Safari Classic Rally (EASCR) that ended at the Diamond Leisure Lodge in Diani on Monday night lived up to its billing as the toughest motorsports event on earth.

Out of the 63 drivers, only 50 found the finish line in Diani.

The contest had a new champion, Eugenio Amos of Italy aka the Italian Giraffe.

Kenya’s Baldev ‘Flying Singh’ Chager who was defending the title really put up a good show despite finishing second.

Kris Rosenberger of Austria and his German wife Nicola Bleicher were third.

Two Kenyans; Bonamy Grimes and Ian ‘Flying Sausage’ Duncan completed the top five finish.

This year saw highest number of entries ever at 63 after 15 more drivers were turned away by the federation due to logistics.

The event boosted Kenya’s economy to a tune of Sh225m as event traversed 11 counties where the drivers, crews, stakeholders and fans spent money in terms of accomodation, food and other needed logistics.

 East African Safari Classic Rally (EASCR) driver Emile Breittmayer assisted by navigator Alexis Thomas at Meshanani, Kajiado County. Dec 17, 2023. [Jonah Onyango, Standrd]

The fact that 13 contestants failed to complete the 4000km journey is a true testament to how tough the race was. Some drivers like Phillip Kadoorie of Hong Kong battled up to five punctures, two suspensions and two gear boxes in a day.

Geoff Bell of South Africa who led in the first two days before Amos perched himself firmly on top of the leaderboard never had a chance to recover following an overheating engine.

Others like John Coyne of Ireland who won the Prologue in Vipingo which acted as the event’s shakedown had to throw in the towel midway after suffering an imbalance eardrum.

At some point, the organisers had to cancel three stages for the drivers safety when there was inclement weather.

Going by the variety of challenges in the competition, it is worth noting that the rally tested not only the speed and agility of the competitors but also their endurance and strategic navigation.

“Its been a hell of a ride, even last day was tricky but we said we take it easy, it was raining we had to put like second gear and the third all the time but we somehow managed to survive,” Amos said.

 Gazelle resting at The Amboseli National park in Kajiado County. Dec 17, 2023. [Jonah Onyango, Standrd]

Once again, Porsche 911 proved to be the King of the road in the event, bagging seven slots in the top ten finish.

There were also quite a number of unique entries to the rally this season among them Morgan, an Opel Manta 400, an Ascona 400, Datsun Violet’s, Toyota Levins, a Trabant and a Mercedes 500SLC.

Despite finishing the rally or not, every participant was already a winner as it takes courage to put your life on the line for this tedious motorsports showpiece on earth.

In fact, Classic Rally should one of the bucket list of all motorsports enthusiasts on earth.

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