Day seven was another gripping day on the Safari Classic Rally. The first stage – shortened by the Clerk of Course yesterday due to rain damage – was a battle royale at the front of the field, with Baldev Chager and Ravi Soni taking a minute off the leaders, Ryan Champion and Richard Jackson. CS17 came next, but that stage was cancelled due to more surface damage.
“Day seven was probably the roughest so far,” noted zero car driver, Raju Chaggar. “Unfortunately, the second stage of the day had to be cancelled as it was likely to eventually become impassable for the classic cars. Car zero (a modified Ford Ranger 4wd pickup) struggled to complete the stage in 2WD.”
So it was on to CS18: a comparatively short stage of less than 26 kilometres. Official times have yet to be circulated but the number nine Porsche pulled a bit of a gap back – we will confirm the final results when available. Interviewed in service at the end of the day , the leaders shared some interesting comments:
Quotes from the leaders: Day 7
“We were slow in the first stage,” said Richard Jackson . “It was a very rough run and we lost a bit of time there, but we are still out in front and there’s two days to go, so anything can happen. Our main plan is to get to the end and it would obviously be nice to win. I think in the history of this event, there have only been Kenyans winning, apart from the years when we had the Swedish former world champions winning. So, if we are going to have a first British win and, in particular, somebody from Yorkshire, we would be delighted. But we are not counting our chickens just yet.”
“Not much of a tough rally today,” said Carl Tundo. “We only did 70 or 80 kms but it’s hot outside and it’s sweltering hot inside the car. Unfortunately, the organisers cancelled the middle sections. Apart from that, I drove slowly and I can’t catch the guys in front because it’s rough. I am settling for third.”
“Richard and Ryan are doing exceptionally well,” noted Baldev Chager. “However, they had the disadvantage of being first on the road today. We picked a little time on them in the first stage, second stage got cancelled, and third stage Ryan beat us by about fifteen seconds, so it’s a very tight race. Two days to go and we will keep the pace and keep the pressure.”
Day 8: Penultimate day of Safari Classic 2017
Tomorrow is the penultimate day of the rally. Assuming there has been no damage to the stages by adverse weather over recent days, the competitors will face three competitive sections covering almost 250kms in total. The weather forecast shows a 51% chance of rain overnight, but tomorrow will be dry and, of course, hot – temperatures are expected to be around 31 degrees Celsius.
Anyone who has ever driven a rally car for 250 kms over rough terrain in 31 degree heat knows how tough this will be. But, if it was easy, it would not be Safari. 2017 has become yet another classic edition of this magnificent rally, with all still to play for at the front.