The 2009 East African Safari Classic Rally sponsored by Kenya Airways was held November 22nd through December 1st, starting from Mombasa, Kenya and covering 4,300 kilometers of which 1,900 were competitive.
A Ford won the Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic Rally for the second time in a row. In 2007, it was a Ford Escort from Europe that took the overall victory but now it is the turn of the American breed to win with a car prepared and driven by Kenyan, Ian Duncan. His superiority was almost unchallenged throughout the event, although for the first two or three days, it was pretty much neck-and-neck between Duncan and 2007 winner Bjorn Waldegard in a Porsche 911 co-driven by the car’s owner, Iqbal Sagoo.
Porsche 911s came in strength this year and Gerard Marcy, accompanied this year by Stephane Prevot, was very much the favourite before the start. But a coming-together with a hole in a Tanzanian road on the second day of the rally lost him too much time and, despite setting several fastest times, he was only able to finish fourth. However, there were six Porsche 911s in the top ten finishers with Thomas Flohr, Steve Troman, Jean-Pierre Mondron and Paul-Eric Jarry all finishing strongly with examples of the German marque.
The final place on the podium was taken by a Datsun 260Z driven by Steve Perez, an excellent result for the British driver. Though they were by far the most numerous at the start, Datsuns took a bit of a hammering in the results this year with Graham Alexander’s Australian 260Z the only other of the Japanese cars to finish in the top ten. He took sixth place between the Porsches of Flohr and Troman. Rounding out the top ten was a Ford Escort Mk1 driven by Aziz Tejpar – the son of the former competitor on the Safari famous for tackling it with a DAF – who was driving an Ian Freestone prepared car on this his first major event.
The winners, Ian Duncan and Amaar Slatch were naturally smiling broadly when they descended from their Ford Mustang after the arrival at Whitesands Hotel north of Mombasa on the final day. Of the twenty-four competitive sections run, they had set fastest time on twelve of them. They had twice come close to losing the lead that they had held from the start – once with punctures in north-west Kenya and then on the penultimate day when their distributor drive broke – but they always came back fighting and finally finished just under ten minutes clear of Waldegard.
Ian Duncan reported, “That was a long way. We’re so glad to have done it and won this rally at last especially after the disappointment with the Mustang last time, two years ago. Really we are so pleased and we owe so much to my guys who prepared – and serviced – this car. Great event.”
The thing that really surprised Bjorn Waldegard, who was sharing Iqbal Sagoo’s Porsche 911 with him, was that, “so many people in Kenya seem to know me. When we came out of that last stage, there were so many people on the main road – and they all wanted to shake my hand. We are happy to be here and have enjoyed the rally very much. We did have one last problem on the first section today when the car jumped a bit high at a ditch, we landed sideways and swiped the back end against a bank neatly removing the rear bumper. In fact it has been a bit tricky today as, after yesterday and the repairs last night, the exhaust is quite noisy so I have had to back off to hear what Iqbal was saying even through the intercom. But the car was good and we are here in second place so maybe even the driver was not so bad either.” For the record, Waldegard set five fastest times on the competitive sections.
2009 East African Safari Classic Rally Results
1. Ford Mustang – Ian Duncan (Kenya) and Amaar Slatch (Kenya)
2. Porsche 911 – Bjorn Waldegard (Sweden) and Iqbal Sagoo (USA)
3. Datsun 260Z – Steve Perez (GB) and Staffan Parmander (Sweden)
4. Porsche 911 – Gerard Marcy (Belgium) and Stephane Prevot (Belgium)
5. Porsche 911 – Thomas Flohr (Switzerland) and Didier Breton (France)