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Safari Rally still the toughest in the world

By Vision Reporter

Added 26th July 2001 03:00 AM

THE Kenyan Safari is said to be the toughest rally in the world, and the latest edition reinforced that reputation.

THE Kenyan Safari is said to be the toughest rally in the world, and the latest edition reinforced that reputation.

By Douglas Mazune and Reuben Olita THE Kenyan Safari is said to be the toughest rally in the world, and the latest edition reinforced that reputation. It took only a day out of three days of action for even the world’s best drivers to be reminded of that fact. As early as the fifth section, Richard Burns (Subaru), Colin McRae (Ford Focus), Didier Auriol and Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot 206) and Carlos Sainz (Ford Focus) had already exited the 12-section gruelling event. McRae had started the event hot favourite, having won the three WRCs going into the Safari — Acropolis, Cyprus and Argentina. The 8th WRC was on Sunday won by four-time world champion Tommi Makinen in a Mitsubishi, one of the most popular cars on the Ugandan scene. When Sainz, the last major rival running, dropped out in the fifth and longest section (124kms) in the event and entire world championship, it was just a case of Makinen cruising to the finish. Sainz had recovered from a troublesome start to win two consecutive sections in the first leg, moved two minutes behind Makinen and was capable of bringing down the Finn in the fateful Marigat-Gari Ya Moshi lap. The highest average speed of 138.72 set by Sainz was not beaten. The lucky winner who rode on the misfortunes of his rivals admitted he would have taken risks if top drivers were still in the race. “If the pressure was there I would have definitely gone faster. That would make it easier but dangerous because I would risk damaging the car,” Makinen said at the post event press conference. Makinen adjusted his speed when his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution team informed him that Sainz had dropped out. He was further helped by the fact that Harri Rovanpera (Peugeot 206) and Armin Schwarz in a Skoda Octovia WRC, who surged into second and third were contented with their positions. Rory Green and Azar Anwar were the best performing Kenyans coming in at number eight and nine respectively. Endurance is a key word to the Safari that had only 15 of the 41 starters finishing the rally. Everything, including the weather seems to conspire against drivers in Kenya. One driver collapsed due to heat, while the weather made it hard even for works team helicopters to do their role well. The bad weather around the Naivasha area led to the cancellation of a section. With each of the rally teams depending on safety helicopters to guide their cars and reach them in case of emergency, bad weather meant all teams, except Mitsubishi that had anticipated the low cloud problem, were not able to reach the competition area. Because of safety dangers, the stage was halted but the then leader on the road Makinen had already completed the section. No Ugandan entered the rally this time, and fans will have to wait until next year to improve on the 7th placings by Karim Hirji in 1994 and Emma Katto in 1997. Nevertheless Ugandan fans again took Nairobi by storm and one of them even returned home with a souvenir — Colin McRae’s side mirror that he picked moments after the Briton smashed his Ford Focus. “It (the car) hit a rock before smashing into a ditch near where we were standing. I will never forget that day that cost my favourite driver rally victory,” Poegio Shabas said . The fans said they enjoyed the rally and promised to come back next year. “We followed the drivers through harsh terrains of Isinya and Oltepesi. It was quite an adventure which we shall not regret spending our money coming to Kenya,” they told The New Vision. Mitsubishi who went into the car-breaking Kenyan event trailing Ford (60points) by seven points reaped 13 , to go six points clear of Ford. Makinen the overall winner turned in ten while Loix contributed three. National champion Charlie Lubega watched the Safari alongside leading drivers Charles Muhangi and Moses Lumala, and was impressed with the mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. “So far, Mitsubishi is doing very well, let’s hope it survives the rough roads,” Lubega said before the final section. Mitsubishi survived to win the rally. Ford scored nothing after both their manufacturers’ scoring drivers Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae dropped out. *** By Douglas Mazune THE all ladies crew of Michelle Van Tongeren and her co-driver Safina Khan in a Subaru Impreza overcame a host of mechanical problem to finish their second consecutive Safari rally. Hundreds of Ugandan fans travelled to Nairobi for the rally where sadly no Ugandan crew participated. Karim Hirji and Emmanuel Katto’s 7th placings in 1994 and 1997 respectively are the best Uganda can talk of in recent times. This year only 15 out of the 41 starters finished the toughest round in World Rally Championship series. Final results: Tommi Makinen 8:58.27 Harri Rovanpera 9:11.14 Armin Schwarz 9:16.12 Francois Delecour 9:19.13 Freddy Loix 10:42.39 Gabriel Pozzo 11:05.23 Marcus Ligato 11:06.27 Rory Green 11:54.33 Azar Anwar 12:11.40 Rudi Stohl 13:39.40 Jari Latvala 14:04.33 Lee Rose 14:06.06 Don Smith 14:21.56 Fredrik Kayser 15:47.24 M. Tongeren 17:03.35 Past Safari Rally winners: 1953 No winner 1954 D. Marwaka, Volkswagen 1955 D. Marwaka, Volkswagen 1956 Eric Cecil, DKW 1957 Gus Hofman, Volkswagen 1958 No winner 1959 W. Fritschy, Mercedes 219 1960 W. Fritschy, Mercedes 219 1961 J. Manussis, Mercedes 220 1962 Tommy Fjastad, Volkswagen 1963 Nick Nowiki, Peugeot 404 1964 Peter Hughes, Ford Cortina 1965 Joginder Singh, Volvo PV 544 1966 Bert Shankland, Peugeot 404 1967 Bert Shankland, Peugeot 404 1968 Nick Nowiki, Peugeot 404 1969 Robin Hillyar, Ford Taunus 1970 E. Herrmann, Datsun 1600 1971 E. Herrmann, Datsun 240 Z 1972 Hannu Mikkola, Ford Escort 1973 Shekhar Methar, Datsun 240 1974 J. Singh, Mitsubishi Lancer 1975 Ove Anderson, Peugeot 504 1976 Joginder Singh, Colt Lancer 1977 Bjorn Waldegard, Ford Escort 1978 Pierre Nicholas, Peugeot 504 1979 Shekhar Mehta, Datsun 160J 1980 Shekhar Mehta, Datsun 160J 1981 Shekhar Mehta, Datsun 160J 1982 S. Mehta, Datsun Violet 1983 Ari Vatanen, Opel Ascona 1984 B, Waldegard, Toyota Celica 1985 J. Kankkunen, Toyota Celica 1986 B. Waldegard, Toyota Celica 1987 Hannu Mikola, Audi Quattro 1988 Miki Biasion, Lancia Delta 1989 Miki Biasion, Lancia Delta 1990 B. Waldegard, Toyota Celica 1991 J. Kankkunen, Lancia 1992 Carlos Sainz, Toyota Celica 1993 J. Kankkunen Toyota Celica 1994 Ian Duncan, Toyota Celica 1995 Y. Fujimoto, Toyota Celica 1996 T. Makinen, Mitsubishi Lancer 1997 C. McRae, Subaru Impreza 1998 R. Burns, Mitsubishi Lancer 1999 Colin McRae, Ford Focus 2000 Richard Burns, Ford Focus 2001 T. Makinnen, Mitsubishi ends

Safari Rally still the toughest in the world

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