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Waldergard powers to Classic Rally glory

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NAIROBI, Kenya November 28 – Veteran former world rally champion, Bjorn Waldergard, is the 2011 Kenya Airways East Africa Classic Rally champion after nine days of tough competition.

Navigated by his son Mathias, Waldegard who last won the title in 2007 arrived at the Whitesands Beach hotel in Mombasa for the ceremonial finish with a time of 18:54.20.

Driving a Porsche 911 under the Race 4 Change team, Waldegard started Monday in the top spot and finished with a 13 minute lead between him and second placed Geoff Bell who returned with a time of 19:57:59 while renowned rally driver Stig Blomqvist came third with 20:38:37.

Waldegard seized back their lead Sunday on the first section, setting fastest times and gaining more than four minutes over Saturday’s leaders, Bell and Tim Challen in their Datsun 260Z.

“We had cruised today and some of the sections were rough like hell so we didn’t put in an attack. I’m very glad to be here and to have won the rally. Mathias has done an absolutely brilliant job.

“He was very good in 2007 but he has got even better and did everything 100 percent. He has set quite a record on the Safari, winning both times he has competed in 2007 and 2011.” said Waldegard who led the first ever Porsche to a Safari win.

The best placed local driver was reigning champion Ian Duncan who finished the marathon rally in the seventh, navigated by his trusty co-driver Amaar Slatch in a Ford Capri.

“Today was okay but it was a shame we couldn’t do another section rather than coming in with all that traffic on the Mombasa Road. We’ve had fun racing with Steven (Funk) today and everyone seems happy with the rally.”

Duncan who is the current Kenyan rally titleholder was in the top three for the first part of the race but dropped down to 22nd due to mechanical problems on the third day but managed to pull up to the top ten in the latter stages.

On Sunday the drivers drove through a 2.5 km spectator section at Athi River at the East Africa Portland Cement quarry where an elaborate section was laid out.

This was a sprint section with Gregoire de Medics setting the fastest time.

Only five seconds separated the three quickest times marks with by Andrew Sidall and Michael Borrisow tying, while Waldegard was third.

ACCIDENT

Waldegard had a close shave a couple of days earlier when he lost his lead to Bell after hitting a lorry that was stuck sideways in a mud hole.

His car clipped the corner of the lorry, which hit the side of the car and damaged the roll cage but his crew rebuilt the vehicle on the road section and he embarked on chasing the leader.

Waldegard was racing under the banner of Race4Change team that is behind efforts to promote the economic empowerment of women in Africa.

The team included X-Games legend and NASCAR super-hero, Travis Pastrana and Steve Funk, local Safari hero Patrick Njiru and Fabrizia Pons, one of the world leading female navigators all in Porsche 911 works cars.

Pastrana only featured for the first four rally days posting commendable times before Njiru took over from him after the one day break of the rally.

It was not a smooth ride for Njiru though after his Porsche broke down two days to the end of the rally and was scheduled for re-start. Funk who was bankrolling the team managed to bring back his Porsche to the finish ramp in sixth.

The happy go lucky Funk had more celebration to do after setting the fastest stage time on the first stage this morning. 43 out of 46 rally cars crews that started the rally managed to survive the rally that combines endurance with high speed competition.

The next edition will be held in 2013 with title sponsors and national carrier Kenya Airways commiting to back the event.

KQ EASCR FINAL OVERALL RESULTS

1. Bjorn Waldegard b (SWE, Porsche 911) 19:22:36
2. Geoff Bell (RSA, Datsun 260) +35:23
3. Stig Blomqvist (SWE, Ford Escort RS1800)+76:1
4. Gerald Marcy (BEL, Porsche 911) +90:20
5. Steve Perez (GB, Porsche 911) +141:6
6. Steve Funk (CAN, Porsche 911) +153:54
7. Ian Duncan (KEN, Ford Capri) +163:33
8. Jean-Piere Mondon (Ford Escort) +174:5
9. John Lloyd (GB, Ford Escort RS1800) +182:44
10. Plilipe Vandromme (FRA, Porsche 911) +193:46
11. Gregoire de Mevius (BEL, Porsche 911) +215:35
12.Franz Wunderich (GER, Porsche 911) +235:42
13. Richard Jackson Jacks (GB, Porsche 911)+259:7
14. Aslam Khan (KEN, Porsche 911) +275:41
15. Richard Arrowmith (Ford Escort MK1) +283:33
16. Steve Troman (KEN, Porsche 911) +314:47
17. Kulwinder Sandhu (KEN, Datsun P710) +323:19
18. Jac Nellenmann (DK, Porsche911) +329:19

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