South African Bell stretches lead on Day two

Driver Eugenio Amos and co-driver Paolo Ceci Amboseli in action yesterday, during the East African Safari Classic Rally 2023, at Kimana in Kajiado. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Inspired Geoff Bell of South Africa clocked 4:13:45.6 to stretch his lead by three minutes 16.4 seconds on the second day of the East African Safari Classic Rally (EASCR) that cruised from Voi to Amboseli on Monday.

Navigated by Tim Challen of Kenya, Bell steered his Datsun 240Z away from troubles that befell most drivers on the tough day that saw 65km stage two (Rombo -Oloitokitok) cancelled due to rain and mud.

Hot on his heels was Eugenio Amos of Italy who timed 4:17:02.0 with his ‘Italian Giraffe’ decorated Porsche 911.

Phillip Kadoorie of Hong Kong, also driving a Porsche 911, finished third in 4:22:40.0, while the closest Kenyan was defending champion Baldev Chager, who ended the day fifth in 4:24:55.0.

Chager blamed tricky notes in the 79km opening stage (Estate-Taita) for his dip in ranking, saying him and his navigator Gareth Dawe spent eight minutes going round a section after they misread the pace notes.

“The first stage was really good till over 800m to the end, I don’t know what happened, we got lost and spent seven to eight minutes finding our way around it, it was really tough for us,” the Kabras Sugar ace told Standard Sports.

“The last stage was good, but I think this is so far the toughest classic I have ever been in. I think everyday will be different, it will be quite a surprise for many to the end,” Chager added. Bell cherished his leads on both days saying his secret is avoiding as much trouble as possible when on the road.

“I try to dodge anything that might give me punctures, this is the difference between me and other drivers,” Bell said.

“The day was very good. A nice outing for me even though stage two was cancelled, I think it was sensible to do away with the stretch because it would have been pretty tough in there. The last stage was fantastic, it was very fast, I liked it.”

Bell promised to carry on with the same momentum in the remaining legs of the race that will end on December 18 in Diani, Ukunda.

Amos said he was slowed down by a puncture in the last stage which was equally faster than the start.

“The section had so many rocks, we spent quite sometime mending the punctures. I think we could have led today,” he said.

Today marks Day three of the rally, which will cruise from Amboseli to Naivasha, covering a total of 514.24km.

The stages the driver will tackle include Iremito- Selenkay (77km), Olootepes-Isinya (64km) and Parane- Kamukuru (75km).

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