63 drivers set for tough test as Classic Rally finally zooms off

Kenya's Baldev Chager and his navigator Drew Sturrock in action in the 10th edition of the East African Safari Classic Rally. [East African Safari Classic ]

The 11th edition of the East African Safari Classic Rally (EASCR) is finally here, all the 63 drivers are set for the battle between man and the machine.

The person to beat in the grueling 4000km race that revs-off at the Vipingo Ridge in Kilifi County today is Kabras Sugar Racing ace Baldev Singh Chager.

“The Flying Singh” will team up with his long-term partner Gareth Dawe in a Porsche 911 as they hope to become the second duo, after compatriot Rob Collinge/ Anton Levitan (2003 and 2005), to accomplish back-to-back wins.

Multiple Kenya National Rally champion Ian Duncan is not only out for a third victory following his triumphs in the event in 2009 and 2013, but he will be seeking to revisit the nostalgic memories of 1994 when he lifted the Safari Rally gong while sponsored by Farmers Choice.

“We want to make ‘The Flying Sausage’ great again. On that note, we are now aiming to win this classic rally, if not to make another podium finish,” Duncan told Standard Sports last week.

Another event favourite is former champion Kris Rosenberger of Austria who will be navigated by German partner Nicola Bleicher. Rosenberger stunned many when he won the grueling rally in his debut in 2019.

Other local drivers dreaming to pull a surprise this year include the Khan brothers Aslam and Arshad, Farhaaz Khan /Keith Henrie, Shakeel Khan / Assad Mughal, Raaji Singh Bharij/ Rajay Sehmi and Anthony Nielsen /Amaar Slatch. Others are Steve Parkinson /Russell Parkinson, Robert Calder /Gavin Laurence, Nish Lakhani/ Teeku Patel, Rommy Bamrah /Harvey Jutley, Glen Edmunds / Lloyd Destro, Rajesh Maini/ Devan Bhundia, Piers Daykin / Tariq Malik, Eric Bengi / Tony Gikuhi and Kyle Lucas /Imran Ahmed.

The opening start today will be a 12 km prologue at Vipingo Ridge that will act as a shakedown for seeding.

The contest will also give spectators a rare opportunity to watch the drivers and the cars as they battle for favourable rankings ahead of rally proper tomorrow.

The prologue stage will serve as a thrilling precursor to the main event, offering a glimpse into the high-octane action and rigorous scrutiny that all crews and their vehicles will undergo.

The prologue comes after a diligent and mandatory scrutineering process at the venue on Thursday that involved meticulous examination and verification of the cars to ensure they are compliant with the technical and safety regulations standards.

The vehicles were closely inspected; from engine specifications to safety equipment that ensured that each car is fit for the challenging conditions that awaits them.

“We looked at the fire extinguishers, battery cut offs, examined the seats, the seat belts, helmets etc,” Assistant Chief Scrutineer Robert Gow said.

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