Porsche scores first win on Safari

| 30 Nov 2011

Former World Rally Champion Bjorn Waldegård powered his Porsche 911 (above) to victory in this year’s East African Safari Classic Rally, which finished in Mombasa on 28 November. The win was a Safari first for the Stuttgart marque, which could boast 19 911s among the 43 finishers.

Waldegård – who won the inaugural World Rally Championship in 1979 – brought his 911 home 35 minutes ahead of second-placed Geoff Bell and Tim Challen’s Datsun 260Z (below) in the 10-day trans-Africa event.

“Some of the sections were rough like hell so we didn’t put in an attack. I’m very glad to be here and very, very glad to have won the rally,” said Waldegård, who co-drove with son Mathias.

“Mathias has done an absolutely brilliant job. He has set quite a record on the Safari, winning both times he has competed."

Bell and Challen had a job maintaining their position after delays on the second stage. “We had two punctures only 400 metres apart,” explained Bell. “We changed one and then changed the other and then there was this terrible vibrating noise, but we crawled through and realised we had bent a rim.” Bell still managed to pull into the finish at the famous Whitesands Hotel ahead of another ex-WRC Champion, Stig Blomqvist (below).

The Swede was behind the wheel of a Ford Escort RS with Ana Goni, the duo also enduring their share of technical issues. Blomqvist said: “It has been a really hard rally this time, but that’s the way it is. On the road to the first section the engine stopped after problems with the ignition.”A Porsche and Datsun also came fourth and fifth, with multiple Safari competitor Gerard Marcy and Stephane Prevot’s 911 ahead of Steve Perez and Staffan Parmander’s 260Z, which moved up an impressive 28 places from the first day when they were lying 33rd.And the run of Porsche success continued with Steven Funk and Andrew Doig’s 911 sixth overall, followed by current Kenyan Rally Champion Ian Duncan and Amaar Slatch’s Ford Capri (below).

The pair staged an impressive recovery after mechanical drama dropped them 25 places over the first couple of days. See: East African Safari Rally 2011 for a full list of results.