The East African Safari Classic Rally 2015 was held November 19-27, starting and finishing in Mombasa on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast. The biennial rally saw more than 50 teams battle 3,331 kilometres (2,070 miles) of terrain through Kenya and Tanzania, including 24 competitive sections that totaled 2,000 kilometres (1,242 miles).
The East African Safari Classic Rally is an open road event, meaning competitive sections aren’t closed off to the public and goats, wandering villagers and wildlife are some of the hazards rally drivers needed to be aware of as they powered along. A total of 53 teams participated in this year’s rally, with 21 Porsche 911 entries, followed by 13 Datsuns, 11 Ford Escorts, a couple of Triumphs, Ferrari 308 GT4, Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC, Peugeot 504 and a Trabant.
The 2015 Safari Classic Rally was spread over nine days in both Kenya and Tanzania, with 24 competitive sections that will largely decided the result since the liaison sections between them were driven in time with no penalty under normal circumstances. Eighty percent of the roads used for the competitive sections were new to the rally. This year’s rally started in Mombasa on November 19 with a loop of competitive sections finishing back the Whitesands Hotel before spreading its wings to travel to Tanzania through Amboseli and the border post of Namanga. In Tanzania it visited Lake Manyara and Arusha and then went back to Mombasa via the border post at Taveta. A total of 46 cars finished the rally. In order to qualify as completing, participants needed to complete four of the eight days of the rally.
The 1984 World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist — navigated by Stephane Prevot in the number 3 Porsche 911 — was this year’s winner of the East African Safari Classic, only the second rally Blomqvist has won in Africa. The veteran rally driver admitted that this year’s event had been particularly hard, “Safari is never easy. This rally has been quite rough. A bit of rain and a bit of everything.”
Blomqvist was followed by his Team Tido teammate, and professional touring car driver Richard Goransson, with Emil Axelsson in car number 6. They closely tailed Blomqvist by a few minutes throughout each day, until the last day when they suffered a series of setbacks that left them eight minutes behind. Dropping from their regular second placing out of the top ten in all stages, Goransson said “We are very pleased with the result for my second attempt at this event.”
Bernard Munster in the number 9 Porsche 911 came in 5th was very pleased with his result, especially since he towed his BMA teammate Gregoire de Mevius 17 kms out of CS19 section on Day 8 after de Mevius hit a spectator’s car. Munster explained, “He broke his drive shaft and his wheel was bent so we towed him to the end of the stage. We did it fast enough so we could keep our place – we went 80kms an hour over the jumps and everything with him behind on the towrope. I knew I couldn’t lose too much time as Cavanagh was behind me on the road, but didn’t want to leave de Mevius behind.” As a result of their quick exit, the Porsche 911 of De Mevius and Nicolas Gisoul retained 3rd place.
The first Kenyan team to finish was the Porsche 911 of Alistair Cavanagh and Gavin Laurence, who came in 4th place. Cavanagh commented, “It was a good result given the problems we have had. “We had to nurse the car for two days, so it’s as good as can be. We have to start preparing for 2017 now!”
Next on the ramp was one of two non-Porsches in the top 10, a Ford Escort owned and navigated by Ranjeet Sehmi and driven by Raaji Bharij, which took 6th place. “We had a great rally, we didn’t have even a single puncture. The only stoppages were due to mud during the whole rally. Day six we were fourth overall, and we have set some reasonably good times. We are top of our class” said Sehmi.
The distinctive yellow Porsche 911 driven by 75-year-old Jayant Shah and Ravi Chana drove a consistent steady rally to 7th place, while Tuthill Porsche’s Richard Jackson and Ryan Champion and Steve Troman and Calvin Cooledge took 8th and 9th, respectively. The final place in the top 10 went to Viking Motorsport’s Jan Hagman and Philip Clarke in a Ford Escort RS 1800.
Similar to 2009, 2011 and 2013, Sports Car Digest also documented the 2015 running of the East African Safari Classic Rally, with McKlein Photography providing the stunning images. We split up the 125 pictures into two galleries. The first gallery starting below features our favorite images, all displayed in the full-width view, while the second gallery and race results can be found on the last page of the article and gives a comprehensive view of all the photographs.
East African Safari Classic Rally 2015 – Featured Photo Gallery
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