A total of 36 drivers will compete in The East Africa Classic Safari Rally that starts in Mombasa on Thursday.
Scrutineering of cars will take place tomorrow in Mombasa, with the Rally proper running from Thursday till December 1.
And drivers have stepped up preparations for the competition. The 1984 World Rally champion Stig Blomqvist from Sweden is seeded first a Porsche 911 car.
Onkar Rai, a leading local driver who also did well in Bulgaria Classic Rally held recently, will also be among the top drivers in his Menengai-sponsored Porsche 911.
Rai will be joined by his younger brother Tejvir Rai as well as team mates – former Kenya National Rally Championship winners Baldev Chager and Carl Tundo – in the 10-day competition which will be run in Kenya and Tanzania. Most stages of the rally will be in Kenya.
This year’s event has now been scaled down from the initial competition which took drivers to the three East Africa countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
The latest round of the series will see drivers crossing over to Arusha and Tanga in Tanzania on Day Two and Day Six of the competition (on Friday, then again on and December 28) before drivers tackle the rest of the championship in Kenya.
After the start from Mombasa, the cars will head for Amboseli Lodge for end of Day One action. Ramesh Vishram, who is the Classic Car champion in this year’s Kenya National Rally Championship, will compete in his fourth Classic event in a Ford Escort Mark2.
His Cementers Racing Team will be navigated by Riyaz Ismail, formerly of Abdul Sidi Rally Academy. ‘’We’ll use the Ford Escort MK2 with we have thoroughly rebuilt. This will be Vishram’s fourth Classic Rally, but I have served as a volunteer in all the previous editions,’’ Ismail said.
The entry list of 36 cars includes 14 Kenyan crews, the rest being from Europe, Argentina, Tanzania and South Africa.
Tundo, a multiple Kenya champion, will drive his Triumph TR7, sponsored by Menengai Oil Refineries for the second event running.
Tundo will be navigated by multiple Kenya champion and Safari Rally navigators champion Tim Jessop. Tundo is seeded second behind defending champion Blomqvist, who is seeded first in his Porsche 911.
Meanwhile, Shell Vivo Energy will supply of V. Power fuel for the crews at Amboseli, Taita Hills Lodge, Diani, Shanzu and Diani Shanzu Teachers College, Mombasa, Namanga, Kimana Town on the Emali – Oloitokitok road. Shell will also avail diesel, oils and lubricants for the cars during the 10-day competition.
Blomqvist, the 1984 World Rally champion will be the first driver off the ramp in the rally which will start and end at the Sarova Whitesands.
Chager is seeded third and two-time Safari Classic champion Ian Duncan is seeded fourth. Nakuru Classic Rally winners Raaji Bharij and his partner Rajay Sehmi have entered a locally-built Porsche 911.
The crew is sponsored by Intra African Insurance Company.