MOMBASA, Kenya, November 29 – Legendary driver Ian Duncan sealed his second Kenya Airways East African Safari Rally triumph in a dramatic finale that saw the local ace clinch the crown on the very last stretch of the gruelling nine-day event.
Duncan in his carroty Ford Capri had his campaign effectively sewn-up when the 1984 World Rally Champion and closest rival Stig Blomqvist punctured on the rally’s last stage in Majengo near Mariakani as curtains came down on the 2013 edition in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa.
The winner and Swede maestro started the last day of Safari Classic on Friday morning separated by just nine seconds with Duncan possessing the thin advantage.
On the first competitive section – a run back through the Taita Hills –the two drivers set equal fastest times with the stopwatch unable to separate them.
But on the second section in Mackinon Road, the tide turned in Blomqvist’s favor as he beat Duncan by 47 and led the contest by 38 with just one competitive section before reaching the finish ramp at the Whitesands Hotel in Mombasa.
However, the final decisive twist in this extraordinary endurance rally for classic cars was to happen when the Swede punctured on the last section to lose four minutes as he surrendered the title to the Kenyan who was navigated by his trusted aide Amar Slatch.
“Last time we won (2009) we were leading on the last day by 9 minutes, this time it was 9 seconds so today was stressful! Just because of that pressure it was much more challenging this year,” the winner said.
Blomqvist who was navigated by compatriot Staffan Parmander had was downcast after a flat tire put paid to his hopes of reclaiming the classic rally title.
“Of course it could have been a better day. We had a puncture in the last section not too far from the end and had to change it. It’s been close for the victory on other rallies I’ve done but not on a long, hard event like this,” he offered.
Third place went to Belgians, Gérard Marcy and Stéphané Prevot driving – like Blomqvist and Parmander – a Tuthill prepared Porsche 911.
Steve Perez from Britain came in fourth followed by all Kenyan crew of Onkar rai and Baldev Chager in a Porcshe 911.
Kenyan father-and-son crew, David and Alex Horsey, took sixth place in another Tuthill prepared Porsche 911 with Safari Rally lover John Lloyd in seventh in a Viking Ford Escort Mk2 co-driven by Gavin Laurence.
The remainder of the top ten were occupied by Porsche 911s with Gregoire de Mevius and Alain Guehennec taking eighth in a BMA Porsche 911.
Local crew of Manvir Baryan and Jaswinder Chana claimed ninth with the Belgians Patrick Van Heurck and Alain Lopez rounding up the top finishers in another Tuthill Porsche 911.
PROVISIONAL FINAL RESULTS
1. Ian Duncan (Ford Capri, KEN) 16:54:46 hours
2.Stig Blomqvist (Porsche 911, SWE) +3:14
3. Gerald Marcy (Porsche 911, BEL) +44:59
4. Steve Perez (Datsun 260Z, GRB) +56:03
5. Onkar Singh Rai (Porsche 911, KEN) +59:30
6. David Horsey (Porsche 911, KEN) +70:30
7. John Lloyd (Ford Escort RS 1800, GRB) +81:32
8. Gregoire De Mevius (Porsche 911, BEL) +99:08
9. Manvir Baryan (Porsche 911, KEN) +116:58
10. Patrick Van Heurck (Porcshe 911, BEL) +123:13