Sunday 27th November, Day Eight, Naivasha Sopa - Voi Wildlife Lodge
With just one more day of action remaining on the epic adventure that is the 2011 East African Classic Safari Rally the Kick Energy crew of Steve Perez and Staffan Parmander are currently placed fifth overall after surviving more mud-holes and a heavy impact with a hidden culvert.
Four sections faced the crews today as they headed out of the Great Rift Valley, through Nairobi and down towards the world famous Tsavo National Park. There were no major dramas for the Datsun 260Z through the opening test and with the misfire from yesterday cured; Steve also entertained the locals with his commitment and bravery over the numerous jumps in the stage.
The second stage of the day was a short blast around the Athi River quarry complex. At only 2km long, this stage was purely for the benefit of the thousands of gathered spectators. Steve managed to stall the Datsun in this test, and promptly received a massive round of applause from the locals.
The third test was a 109km run down the escarpment and midway through this uncharacteristically dry stage, Steve began to catch sight of Stig Blomqvist ahead of him. With dust hanging in the air, Steve missed a hidden culvert and the Datsun took a heavy impact breaking a rear control arm. This made the car behave unpredictably over the rough terrain and Steve was forced to slow down and limp to the finish.
The final stage was short but had a nasty bite to it. An unassuming mud-hole caught a number of cars out and whilst waiting for his team-mate Geoff Bell to be towed through, Steve joined the growing queue of competitors waiting to pass. A rival chose to try and jump the line and to everyone's amusement promptly ground to a halt in the mud!
Despite the dramas Steve still maintains fifth overall and looks set to hold this position throughout the final day of rallying action. Only 156 competitive kilometres remain before the surviving crews arrive back in Mombasa tomorrow afternoon for the ceremonial finish.
Steve is eagerly looking forward to seeing the finish ramp and commented whilst relaxing in Voi, watching elephants drinking at the local waterhole: "Only one day left of this, the most difficult and challenging rally I have ever tackled. Today was quite good fun and catching Stig, the 1984 World Rally champion in the third stage was something special for me. The poor car is nearly ready for the scrap heap now as not a single panel is straight and the driver feels pretty much the same!"
In the self styled Gentleman's World Rally Club (G-WRC), another victory for Geoff Bell gives him an unassailable lead in the three man series but Geoff dropped back to second overall in the rally standings behind six-time Safari Rally winner Bjorn Waldegard but comfortably ahead of Stig Blomqvist which really is not bad company for a Kick Energy driver.
Daily Total Kilometres: 587.08km
Event Total Kilometres to date: 3868.19km
Daily bulletins will be issued by the Vodka Kick Rally Team press office throughout the event. For further details please visit www.eastafricansafarirally.com