Why Bamrah has been forced to shift his target in the rally

Rommy Bamrah (Kenya) and Harvey Jutley (Kenya) in action during the East African Classic Rally. [East African Safari Rally Classic Team]

As the going gets tough, the tough get going.

One of the drivers who is determined to reach the finish line in Watamu is Rommy Bamrah and his navigator Harvey Jutley.

Due to the harsh conditions of the rally, the duo has been forced to revise their target in the gruelling event.

“We initially had an objective in this year’s race, which was to finish strongly in the top 10, but after a number of incidences, we have revised our aim which is now to be among the top 20,” said Bamrah.

“We are making this decision just to be realistic and avoid putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves.”

The duo has been affected by the harsh weather conditions that kept on alternating as the nine-day competition changes location from one place to another.

The event has been gaining intense heat and dust as it moves further to the coastal towns of Voi and Mombasa.

This seems to be taking toll on participants and the crew.

The climate change, which has brought increasingly higher temperatures, has adversely affected the performance, reliability and endurance of their 1972 Datsun 240Z engine which now requires close attention.

“In addition, the blistering heat around the rally route has resulted in what will be known as ‘‘The Dustiest Safari’’.

“The choking dust clouds have added more strain to the need for hard acceleration and high speeds whenever there is an opportunity for fast driving, all in the name of producing competitive section times,” Bamrah noted.

Bamrah and Jutley have been astounded by the wear and tear on their tyres due to the high temperatures, dust, roughs and the wash aways.

When they reached the Amboseli National Park control on Sunday, they had already wrecked 12 tyres, including three that were destroyed during one stage.

Their rapidly diminishing stock of tyres has become a matter of concern about surviving the closing stages before the finish line at Watamu.

The impact of competing against a small army of well-heeled participants driving cars backed by massive service teams using equipment that would do credit to top-class commercial workshops, also influenced the duo’s change of target in the ongoing rally.

Asked to predict the outcome of the remainder of the contest in the Taita Hills and coast sections Bamrah said: ‘‘We have high hopes of achieving our revised target of a top 20 finish. If we do so, this will be as good as being in the top 10 in the past.’’ 

Driving a route opening car in the 2003 Classic Safari was Bamrah’s first link with one of the world’s toughest motorsport event. 

Over the years, he has noticed that the rally is becoming a high-speed contest, which is ideal for powerful cars with sports car racing acceleration and high top speeds.

The best result achieved by the Datsun 240Z crew came in 2017 when they finished 16th overall.

For this year’s event, they have been sponsored by the Komatsu earth movers distributor, the Panafrican Equipment Group. 

This enabled them cover the cost of extensive mechanical preparation and the purchase of all rally tyres they thought would be sufficient for the 5000 kilometres rough and tough route.