Day 7 – Naivasha Sopa to Taita Hills
The eighth and penultimate day of the 2013 East African Safari Classic Rally, of which seven have been competitive in addition to Monday’s rest day, has seen the leaderboard change back and forth all day long.
The one constant has been the dogged determination of the Amigos Tequila-flavoured beer branded car of Steve Perez and John Millington as they fought off the local attack over 513 kilometres of rough and treacherous African roads to hold fourth overall with just one day of this epic event remaining.
Today’s three sections saw the crews transverse the central plateau of Kenya, departing from Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley at 06:00am local time and arriving at Taita Hills Safari Lodge at 17.00pm this afternoon. Along the way the BTR-prepared Datsun 260Z survived some of the roughest roads that Steve has ever seen, likening the day to more of a Baja event than roads fit for a pre-1978 classic rally car.
A leaking brake cylinder was the only major concern for the triple British champion from Chesterfield and his Dewsbury co-driver and this was replaced before they tackled the final section of the day which comprised a 32 kilometre stretch through the scenic Taita Hills. With huge cavernous drops off either side this was perhaps a very wise plan.
Steve commented: “Today I have felt like an African gazelle being chased by two mighty Kenyan lions. Baldev Chager is the current Kenyan Rally champion and is pushing hard. David Horsey is a former African Rally champion and is certainly no slouch. It’s fun for sure, but I’d prefer a more comfortable margin between myself and them. My friend and rival Geoff Bell broke a diff today, a timely reminder that anything can happen. Tomorrow he is kindly going to run as my chase vehicle, so we will remove all of my spares and tools and he will carry them. I guess I might have to buy him a few beers tomorrow night as a thank you if we get to the finish.”
Competitive Day 8, the final day of this marathon event, sees the crews depart the Taita Hills and head towards the East coast of Africa. A total of 350 kilometres are all that remain between the surviving crews and the ceremonial finish at White Sands Hotel on the outskirts of Mombasa.
The first of these sections is another blast through the Taita Hills, which has experienced a lot of overnight rain since the crews first tackled this section over a week ago. The second section is a really fast run through a wildlife conservancy where last week Steve admitted to being concerned about an elephant stepping onto the road whilst he was flying past at speeds of almost 190kph. The final section of the rally is an 85 kilometre sting in the tail. Navigation is tricky and as the crews near the coast, the human density increases so the crews need to be extra cautious of traffic.
With the demise of Kick Energy Amigos team-mates Geoff Bell/Tim Challen in the BTR (Ben Ashton) prepared Datsun 260Z, it’s down to the Dansport (Dan Sutherland) prepared car of Andrew Siddall/Carl Williamson, who currently occupy 16th spot, to battle for G-WRC honours.
In the battle for the lead, Kenyans Ian Duncan and Amaar Slatch lead Swedes Stig Blomqvist and Staffan Parmander by a mere nine seconds after over 15 hours of competitive driving! Perez has a three minute advantage over Horsey but is some 22 minutes adrift of third placed Gerard Marcy.
Provisional Results to end of Competitive Day 7
1 Ian Duncan/Amaar Slatch – Ford Capri – 15:10.06
2 Stig Blomqvist/Staffan Parmander – Porsche 911 – 15:10.15
3 Gerard Marcy/Stephan Prevot – Porsche 911 – 15:39.42
4 Steve Perez/John Millington – Datsun 260Z – 16:01.30
5 David Horsey/Alex Horsey – Porsche 911 – 16:04.39
6 Onkar Rai/Baldev Chager – Porsche 911 – 16:04.55
7 John Lloyd/Gavin Laurence – Ford Escort – 16:16.42
8 Gregoire De Mevius/Alain Guehennec – Porsche 911 – 16:41.15
9 Manvir Baryan/Jaswinder Chana – Porsche 911 – 16:45.23
10 Patrick van Heurck/Alain Lopez – Porsche 911 – 16:51.52
16 Andrew Siddall/ Carl Williamson – Datsun 260Z – 17:30.13
Further information is available by following Steve Perez Rallying on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/steve.perezrallying and on Twitter @steveperezrallying. For further information on the company’s products, including Amigos beer, please visitwww.globalbrands.co.uk and the team’s official rally website iswww.steveperez.co.uk.
Daily bulletins are being issued by the Kick Energy Amigos Rally Team press officers Geoff Mayes and Larry Carter throughout the event. For further details please visitwww.eastafricansafarirally.com
Event Total Stage Kilometres 1621.31
Event Total Road Kilometres 2124.19
Completed Stage Kilometres 1340.84
Completed Road Kilometres 1967.00
Elapsed Stage Time 16 hrs, 1 min, 30 secs
Pictures attached (courtesy Mayes Media): Steve Perez in action on Competitive Day 7 of the 2013 Kenya Airways East African Safari Rally in the Amigos Datsun 260Z