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Waldegard maintains lead, Duncan charges

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NAIROBI, Kenya, November 21- The 1979 World Champion Bjorn Waldegard maintained his lead into Day Two of the Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic as rains played havoc in Tanzania.

The Swede fought back in defence of his threatened first position by posting the fastest stage time through CS6 (37.7km). That was indeed Bjorn’s first stage win since the rally started on Sunday.

After a very wet ending to Day One run in Amboseli on Sunday, Waldegard was yet again the star attraction at Mount Meru Hotel’s overnight halt in Arusha as defending champion Ian Duncan fought viciously to make up time.

It was a bitter pill for Duncan to swallow on Sunday, after the reigning Kenya rally champion got lost for about a minute in the second section and was fighting relentlessly to recover.

But Waldegard, who won the Safari Classic for the first time in 2007, had to contend with relentless pressure from Belgian Gegoire De Mevius whom he beat by a mere three seconds on the Day’s leader board.

Earlier, Gregoire led when cars crossed over into Tanzania as at CS4 Kamwanga end.

But Waldegard bounced back in awesome fashion by winning the last stage of the Day (CS6) which ran from Jeshini to Panone.

Duncan who won the opening stage on Sunday trails Waldegard by a 1.48 margin. But the legendary Kenyan driver has indeed been the quickest driver so far setting three fastest stage times out of the possible five.

Due to heavy rains on Sunday night, the 142km /CS5 stage running from Monduli to Mto wa Mbu was cancelled due to flooding.

This was meant to be the longest stage of this year’s edition of the Safari Classic. All cars were consequently asked to return to the perc ferme at Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha.

The cars restarted at 1.15pm (+3GMT) and the time allowed from Mount Kenya to Jeshini 1 time control was 60 minutes.

Gregoire was brimming with confidence after a hard day’s drive.

“We have three very close cars together and it puts me under immense pressure; but that’s the spirit of the game,” Gregoire said.

Ian Duncan’s navigator Amaar Slatch didn’t despair in any way.

“The morning stage was really wet and slippery, but the beginning was really nice and the last stage was dry and very fast. But all in all, we had a good day,” said Amaar.

Asked what their comeback plan is, Amaar continued. “We are just going as planned. We are picking up time as we go so hopefully by halfway we should be okay,” said Amaar.

Legendary navigator Lofty Drews described it as a very challenging day out.

“Its always a challenging day and a lot of other crews were also stuck and I think the locals will have made some push money today. I guess there will be big celebrations in Tinga Tinga where most of the cars got stuck,” he noted.

DAY 2 LEADERBORD

1.Bjorn Waldegard (SWE) 4.30.48hrs

2.Gregoire De Mavius (BEL) 4.30.51

3.Ian Duncan (KEN) 4.32.36

4. Geoff Bell (RSA) 4.45.56

5. Gerard Marcy (BEL) 4.46.37

6.Travis Pastrana (USA) 5.04.10

7.Stig Blomqvist (SWE) 5.55.40

8.Thomas Flohr (SWITZERLAND) 6.05.39

9.Steve Perez (GB) 6.12.32

10.John Lloyd (GB) 6.17.21

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