NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 23 – Competitors arrived at Ol Tukai Lodge bruised and battered on Thursday recounting a tough start to the 2017 Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic Rally.
Overnight leader Stig Blomqvist of Sweden talked of a very tricky first day especially in the first section where most of crews got stuck in one of the mud holes.
“Overall am happy to be back here to defend the title I won last time,” Stig said.
Despite the conditions, oldie Dinesh Sachania of Kenya also returned to the Lodge in Amboseli enthusiast of his run.
He said: “The second stage was good and the long section was tough with a lot of corrugation. We are not thinking a lot about tomorrow (Day Two) just taking it a day at a time.”
Nick Mason of GB had a great run and managed to get through everywhere. “For us it was a good day. However it was very disappointing in the length of time that we were left out baking in the sunshine, waiting for decision to be made. Thank God for the second stage, it was absolutely fantastic which brightened up everyone for the day.”
Kabras Sugar Racing ace Tejveer Rai of Kenya had probably more downs than ups. “We got stuck in both the stages. Apart from that we lost a lot of time. The waiting didn’t affect us too much but you feel the concentration going off a bit, but that’s the part of the challenge.
His teammate Baldev Chager of Kenya had a very challenging and extremely tricky day despite wrapping up his first day in third.
“I think we were very lucky not to get stuck in stage 1 that’s why we had a good stage time. Looked forward to stage two but we had an issue with the fan belt. It snapped 5km and we had to be very careful which lost us a bit of time.”
Eight more days to go, it’s a rally that can catch you out and can be good to you or be very cruel. Of course we have to do our best as a Kenyan entry but we have stiff competition from the likes of Stig, but it should be good fun.”
Carl “Flash” Tundo had an electrical fire before even the first stage and we had to rewire the car losing about a minute and a half.
“The times we set were all top 10, and we are in the same minute with Stig. The good thing is that the officials made good decisions with the times and I commend them. We have done a lot of work on the Triumphs and I think the fire was caused by putting the tracking unit the wrong way but it’s all sorted now.”
Onkar got stuck behind a lot of cars in the mud holes but besides that he had a good day. “However we lost gears and we didn’t have 4thgear but we still got good times. Would have been better. As for the whole Kabra’s team, we are talking together and we just have to make sure we get to the end.
Italy’s Steffano Rocca talked of a very nice race and nice first day. “Unfortunately in the morning we had to wait. In the first stage I got stuck in a mud hole and got stuck there for almost an hour and a half.
The second section was great I had two cars that slowed me down a bit but ended up wel. The car is more than fantastic and better than the last classic rally, my team has done a fantastic job on the car.”
Tim Mammen and his teammate Keith Henrie were going on very well and got through the mud holes at least in the beginning.
“At some point I got an overtake request. Unfortunately I pulled up to far on the left side and ended up stuck permanently in the mud. So we spent half an hour stuck. Rocca tried to pull us backwards, didn’t work, but we later got help but we baked in the sun for 3 hours. The 2nd stage was great and we had fun in it.”
Cementers Kenyan driver Ramesh Vishram talked of a good day, “but such a pity that the first stage had an issue but all in all its been a good start, besides the wet conditions but I thank God that we managed to go through. Second stage was rough with a lot of wash outs and had to be extremely cautious. The car has minor issues which they will sort out tonight before the second day.”