Monday 28th November, Day Nine, Voi - Mombasa
After nine tortuous days of action, Kick Energy driver Steve Perez has completed the 2011 East African Classic Safari Rally in a very creditable fifth position which is particularly impressive given this year's world famous marathon has been considered as one of the toughest in recent years.
After torrential rains besieged the route of the entire event and at the wheel of the 1975 Datsun 260Z, Steve, from Chesterfield who was expertly co-driven by Swede Staffan Parmander, recovered from mechanical dramas which cost him over an hour, whilst posting a pair of fastest overall stage times along the way.
After breaking a prop shaft in the second section of the rally and losing an hour repairing the car, Steve then lost more time in a mud hole later in the same day. His recovery from the lower reaches of the top thirty to a final position of fifth was one of the highlights of the rally.
The final day today was a short 156km run back from Tsavo National Park to Mombasa. The only dramas today were a close encounter with a particularly large monkey in the second stage and then being caught in the dust of fellow Kick Energy driver Geoff Bell for over ten kilometres in the final stage of the entire rally.
Back at the finish in Mombasa a visibly relieved Steve commented on the event: "This is by far the most difficult and challenging rally I have ever done in my life. The hammering that the car, Staffan and I have taken has been incredible and the BTR team have worked magic in all sorts of inhospitable conditions. Today was a lot of fun, nice stages in dry, dusty conditions which made a pleasant change from the torrential rain we've had for most of the event. We caught our team-mate Geoff Bell in the last stage of the rally as he was nursing a car with no spare wheels and a bent rim and it took a long time for him to see us. I must say massive congratulations to Geoff on finishing second overall, sandwiched between two former World Rally champions! He also wins the Gentleman's World Rally Club (G-WRC), so I guess we have to buy the champagne tonight. I am now looking forward to the Roger Albert Clark Rally this weekend where I'll be in action with Paul Spooner calling the notes in the Lancia Stratos. After all the mud I've encountered here I'm almost hoping for some ice to put into practice Staffan's advice!"
Despite Steve winning the self-styled G-WRC class on today's final day of rallying, Bell had taken enough victories earlier in the event to win the award which stipulates that fellow G-WRC members Steve and Andrew Siddall must pick up the bill for the champagne tonight.
The rally was won by 1979 World Rally champion Bjorn Waldegard and is the first time that a Porsche has ever won the Safari Rally. Bjorn was chased hard over the final few days by Kick Energy driver Geoff Bell in a Datsun 260Z but Geoff's charge faded when he was left stranded in a mud hole for over twenty minutes on the penultimate day.
One final thought to put the event into perspective: At over 4000km long, the 2011 East African Classic Safari Rally was longer than five full seasons of the ANCRO National Rally Championship...
Daily bulletins have been provided by the Kick Rally Team press office throughout the event with photography provided by Geoff Mayes. Thanks for everyone's kind comments and hope you have enjoyed keeping up with Steve's adventure.
For further details please visit www.eastafricansafarirally.com
Daily Total Kilometres: 297.39km
Event Total Kilometres to date: 4165.58km