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Safari Rallyt; Day six - Friday: Amboseli to Taita.

The rain in the night certainly enlivened the Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic Rally 2007 and gave the surviving crews a new challenge in their first two sections on Friday. On the first, Bjorn Waldegård, as the overnight leader opening the road for the other cars, suffered most from the soft, slippery conditions and was caught and passed by his team mate, Stig Blomqvist, towards the end of the section. This reduced Waldegård´s lead by two minutes but he promptly answered back with fastest time on the second section. The two Escorts finished the day in the same positions, first and second overall, now seven minutes apart.

Behind them, the true pace setter was Porsche driver, Gerard Marcy who took fastest time on the first and third sections and has consequently closed the gap slightly to third placed man, Frederic Dor, in another Porsche 911. Fifth is Geoff Fielding in yet another Porsche who now has a comfortable gap between him and John Lloyd´s Datsun 240Z after the latter´s encounter with a river crossing. Steve Perez is seventh in a Datsun 20Z with a hard-charging Paul-Eric Jarry just a minute and half behind him in a Porsche 911. The best local driver is Jonathan Savage in ninth place with his Datsun 260Z. This is despite a near miss with a bridge after a management decision to land the right way up in the river rather than roll over the parapet and land upside down in the river. In tenth is the ever-popular Roddy Sachs from South Africa in the first of the three Datsun 180Bs.

The main excitement of the day was provided by some of the later runners who, faced with the first big river crossing of the rally in the middle of the second section, tried to turn the rally into a regatta. Among those requiring help from the willing local inhabitants to reach the far shore were John Lloyd (Datsun 240Z) and Joseph Pointinger (Ford Escort). The general feeling from the crews was that the muddy sections had been great fun, not too rough and not much chance of getting stuck, while all the sections had been much smoother than even the previous day.

Tomorrow, Saturday, the Safari Classic goes into Tanzania with two classic sections just across the border before the night halt in the shadow of Kilimanjaro at the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge.

Provisional top ten results
Pos. Driver/Co-driver Car Total penalty

1 Bjorn Waldegard/Mathias Waldegard Ford Escort Mk1 09h14m03s
2 Stig Blomqvist/Ana Goni Ford Escort Mk1 09h21m08s
3 Frederic Dor/Didier Breton Porsche 911 09h26m53s
4 Gerard Marcy/Alain Lopes Porsche 911 09h36m48s
5 Geoff Fielding/Preston Ayres Porsche 911 10h05m21s
6 John Lloyd/Adrian Cavenagh Datsun 240Z 10h16m26s
7 Steven Perez/Michael Stuart Datsun 260Z 10h21m03s
8 Paul-Eric Jarry/Craig Redelinghuys Porsche 911 10h22m39s
9 Jonathan Savage/Quentin Savage Datsun 260Z 10h34m40s
10 Roddy Sachs/ Peter Young Datsun 180B 10h48m48s

Almost before the rally cars got into the first competitive section away from Amboseli, the dramas were starting - amongst the service crews. The overnight rain had turned the old pipeline road from Loitokitok to Emali into a mud slide and first Tuthill Porsche had their big truck slide into a ditch and get firmly stuck, and then forty kilometres on, the Historic Motorsport truck did the same. The latter was worst off since the front tyre punctured in the incident and then the man with the ignition keys was spirited off which made later retrieval a bit tricky. It even had the misfortune to rip out a brake pipe while being retrieved. Tuthill´s truck made it to Taita in time for service but the Ford truck was itself in need of service and will turn up later.

Notes on the cars and crews.

Car No 1 Bjorn Waldegard
"We had a medium day. On the first section there was a lot of black cotton and it was very sticky. We were first on the road that meant the others could see the right line to take. At one point we hit a sticky patch and Stig took a cleaner line and passed us. We also have a slight misfire. We thought we fixed it yesterday but it´s still there and on that last fast section the engine was not pulling properly and we lost some time." On arrival at Taita, the mechanics discovered that the pinch bolt for the distributor was completely loose - and had been slightly so for days. This is now being replaced and the Waldegaards should not have to worry about misfires in future.

Car No. 2 Gerard Marcy
"The first section was very muddy and the second section was OK. The third was very fast - I think we got to a top speed of 206kph."
Alain Lopes : "Normal day for the co-driver, we followed the route !"

Car No. 3 Stig Blomqvist
"There was no problem today. We try to go not too fast for the conditions but the driving is very nice."
Ana Goni : "For Bjorn it was really bad luck to be first car through that first section".

Car No. 4 Frederic Dor
"Marcy passed us in the first section - perhaps we were being a little too careful. When it is twisty I can get nearer to Stig and Bjorn but not on the fast stuff. And I didn´t want to go flat out on that last part of the last section: 15 km flat out can take 1000km off the engine."

Car No. 6 John Lloyd
Lloyd´s 240Z was the first casualty of the river crossing in the second section. He got stuck for about six minutes and had to be pushed out. "The concrete looked as if it was broken," he said. "So we took another route which didn´t prove to be the best. It certainly had the deepest water and sandiest bottom." They also had problems with the brakes in the last section and in Lloyd´s words "took a detour through a hedge."

Car No. 7 Keith Callinan
"This was the best day out. We´re very happy. No problems in the mud and that last section certainly got the adrenaline going."

Car No. 8 Steve Perez
After the rest day the 260Z is now running at the rear on the MCA suspension from Stefano Roccas 260Z which rolled out of the rally on the third day. "The suspension is much better," said Perez. "But we could still do with a little more power, especially on that last 15 kilometres on the last section."
From co-driver Mike Stuart: "The suspension is a lot better. Steve drove a perfect pace. We got caught by Jonathan Savage in the first section but, as a local, he gave us a bit of a driving lesson in how to rally in these conditions and Steve was right on him until the end."

Car No. 10 Geoff Fielding
"We took it steady on the first section because it was very slippery. Africa was showing us another face but I´m still really enjoying the stages."

Car No. 11 Graham Alexander
"We got the valve springs fixed yesterday and we´re back on six cylinders. But on the third section the radiator was leaking and we had to stop twice to re-fill it with water."

Car No. 15 Richard Martin-Hurst
"Unfortunately we didn´t fit new front tyres in Amboseli and, with the rain last night we were a bit all over the place on the first two stages but it was enjoyable nevertheless. The car´s giving non problems."

Car No. 16 Stephen Troman
From Richard Tuthill: "Steve has gone off 5km from the start of the third section and unfortunately he´s ripped the front arm off the chassis. He can´t drive the car but a service car has gone back and will collect him when the section has finished. Only the car is damaged and the crew are fine."

Car No. 18 Jayant Shah
"We had just a perfect day. Typical Safari: totally enjoyable."

Car No. 19 Paul & Mary-Ellen Kane
The Mustang developed a taste for fan belts in the second section. The Kanes changed one themselves but when the second one went they decided to get towed into service where it was changed again. They drove straight to the Taita Hills Lodge keeping the revs low. "But we still enjoyed it," said Mary-Ellen. "This way we get to see the landscape properly and meet the people and we´ll be up and running again tomorrow."
At the moment the Mustang´s fan belt problem has been diagnosed as stemming from the alternator.

Car No. 20 Paul Eric-Jarry
"Today was OK. We´re here on time: nothing broke and there were no accidents. The first two sections were very slippery but we took it ´easy-does-it´ and we got through. We tried to drive smoothly and keep up the pace. We´ve been running with the windows open because we´ve had a smell of petrol."

Car No. 21 Jonathan Savage
The 260Z of the Savages had an encounter with a different river to most in the second section. They were a bit fast into a sharp left into a narrow bridge only a couple of kilometres after the start and decided rather than hit the parapet and roll into the river the best option was to steer into it. "It was about a twenty foot drop," said Savage. "And then about hundred local guys lifted the car and me up the other side. It was lucky I hadn´t filled her up otherwise we might have needed 120."

Car No. 22 Albert Michiels
"No problems. I´ve really enjoyed today. A nice mixture of slippery, twisty and then fast."

Car No. 25 John Rose
"We have a problem that´s developed with the odometer whereby when it vibrates the display disappears so Michael has to try to keep a hand on it all the time. Sadly this caused us to take a wrong turning in the third stage at a fork where the driver´s instinct was to go right but, thanks to the fault, the co-driver thought it was left. When we found out we were wrong we had to turn around and go back and go right."

Car No. 26 Josef Pointinger
"When we came to that big river in the second section we made a bad choice and went into the deepest bit. I can´t tell you quite how deep but I can tell you that now the Austrian Navy has one submarine. Wolfgang got out to organise the twenty people who were pushing us out but in his enthusiasm he fell forwards and disappeared into the water. I thought he´d gone fishing. He had to have a complete change of clothes at the next service point."

Car No. 30 Hardev Singh Sira
"A nice fast uneventful day. So nice to enjoy the rally after all our problems in the first few days."

Car No. 32 Larry Horn
"It was a good day. The first sections were slippery but entertaining. We had a few knocks here and there but everything is OK with the car."

Car No. 33 Roddy Sachs
The Datsun 180B arrived at Taita Hills Lodge with a smashed windscreen. "We had a great day rallying until the last transport section when we hit a water buck which was a really sad end to the day."

Car No 34 Ian and Val Swan
Both driver and co-driver looked immaculate as they got out of their Volvo. "We had three good stages with no problems," said Ian. "We only to put petrol in the car. We also managed to pass a couple of Porsches which always makes me feel good."

Car No. 37 David and Sarah Rayner
"The first day without anything dropping off so were quite pleased. Yesterday I fitted some bigger bolts - actually Alllen screws - and that seems to have done the trick."

Car No. 39 Rommi Bamrah
"I should´ve had a radio for that last stage with that long straight. But at least we had no problems or incidents today which makes a nice contrast to the first half of the rally."

Car No. 41 Kurt Vanderspinnen
"Everything is going well until we hit a small problem on the final section. The engine started to lose power and once we almost came to a halt but then the engine picked up again. We´ll have to find out what´s causing that in the service."

Car No. 42
"A very nice day. Slowly but surely we are rebuilding our car and enjoying ourselves."

Car No. 43 Tim Mammen
"Not a bad day but for two things: in Amboseli our mud tyres weren´t inflated so we had to carry on with the normal ones and then just coming into Taita lodge the fuel filter mounting broke and filled the boot with fuel."

Car No. 44 Neil McGrigor
"The day was uneventful from the point of the view of the car and incidents. Beautiful sections. I particularly liked the two muddy ones at the start, not much you can do on those 14 km straights with a 1600cc engine."

Car No. 45 Geoff Bell
"Well it looks like I´m well out of the running now. The 180B was on three cylinders all day and last night we changed everything we possibly could without success. I made a very bad decision to try to fix it during today and I´ve lost maybe two hours. I´m gutted."

Car No. 46 Minesh Rathod
"A much better day and really enjoyed it."

Car No. 47 Peter Harland
"Great to do a stage when you´re flat out in fifth gear for so long. It was a fabulous day and I´m sure there´s more to come."

Car No. 48 Ekya and Prina Shah
The husband-wife team unfortunately rolled in the first section. Prina has damaged a finger and is going to Voi for an X-ray but the crew are otherwise OK. They didn´t start the second section but they did complete the third and are planning to continue tomorrow morning.

Car No. 49 Timothy Bennett
"A fantastic day. We were cautious on the first section and had one big bang at the back when we hit a culvert. The starter motor failed at the beginning of the second section so we had to have a few push starts. The last section was flat, fast and furious. Bessy (the name of their Escort Mexico) got up to 140 kph."

Car No. 50 Nick Mason
"To try and avoid punctures we´ve been running with the tyre pressure quite hard but after I´d driven the first section this morning in all the mud I had to try and let them down to get a bit more grip. Sadly we then got a puncture on the second section and on the third. This is a fantastic event and despite problems we´re enjoying it immensely."

Car No. 52 Iqbal Sagoo
"It´s been a very good day. It wasn´t actually as muddy and slippery as I expected. I found the last 15 km of the last section a bit boring."
From co-driver Jurgen Bertl: "When it came to choosing which way to go at that river, I knew that the water flows fastest where it is shallowest so we chose correctly and went over the concrete."

Car No. 53 Wayne Keitswetter & Rob Hellier
"The first sections were slippery and there were some interesting lines. We bust a rear trailing arm before the third section and the rear end kept trying to overtake us coming down the tarmac into service but we managed to fix it. The 180B´s going well but we look at one another and wonder if there isn´t something wrong with the weight to power ratio."

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