The East African Safari Classic Rally 2017 was held November 23 – December 1, starting and finishing in Mombasa on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast. The biennial Rally is easily one of our favorite events covered by the team at Sports Car Digest. The blend of world-class drivers and cars plowing through mud, fording rivers and getting serious air time, combined with spectacular African landscapes and challenging driving conditions, make for wonderfully unique material.
“The original East African Safari Rally is a special event in the hearts and minds of the global rallying community,” said Pipi Renu, General Manager, Safari Classic Rally. “It is a real privilege to evoke the memory of the greatest drivers and adventurers of that period by running the world’s most challenging historic rally every two years in their honour.”
The 2017 East African Safari Classic Rally saw more than 35 teams battle the terrain of Kenya and Tanzania. All two-wheel-drive, normally-aspirated FIA rally cars to the end of 1985 are eligible to enter the Safari Classic Rally. The Rally is an open road event, meaning competitive sections aren’t closed off to the public and goats, wandering villagers and wildlife are some of the hazards rally drivers needed to be aware of as they powered along. This year’s Safari Classic Rally included several small but significant tweaks to the rally regulations, which have encouraged many new European competitors to ship their cars to Africa for the nine-day event. Power steering is now permitted on the grounds of comfort and safety, and the cut-off age for cars has been stretched to 1985.
The first Audi to win the original WRC Safari Rally and Audi’s final world championship rally car returned to Kenya with winning driver, Hannu Mikkola, for the eighth edition of the East African Safari Classic Rally. A special guest of Safari this year was the works Audi 200 Quattro that claimed the top two steps of the podium in 1987, when Walter Röhrl and Christian Geistdörfer took second place behind team mates Mikkola and co-driver, Arne Hertz. The Audi 200 Quattro took part in the official pre-rally event programme, on static display in Sarova Whitesands and running on the shakedown event at Vipingo Ridge.
The 2017 Safari Classic Rally was spread over nine days in both Kenya and Tanzania. This year’s rally started in Mombasa on November 23 with a loop of competitive sections finishing back the Whitesands Hotel before spreading its wings. Inexplicably, the Triumph TR7 of Kenya’s Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo with co-driver, Tim Jessop, and the Porsche 911 of Britain’s Richard Jackson with co-driver, Ryan Champion, were declared the joint winners of the 2017 Kenya Airways East Africa Classic Safari Rally, following a unanimous decision by the stewards. This is the first time the rally has produced joint winners since its inception in 2003.
Richard Jackson navigated by Ryan Champion in a Tuthill Porsche 911 proved beyond reasonable doubt that they are experts on road after nine days of the gruelling battle between man and machine as hard-charging Kenyan driver Tundo also proved he was tough on the road as well. Although it was Porsche’s third win on the world’s toughest historic rally, it was also the first victory for a British driver in what has previously remained a preserve of hosts Kenyans and Swedes.
Similar to 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015, Sports Car Digest also documented the 2017 running of the East African Safari Classic Rally, with McKlein Photography providing the stunning images.
East African Safari Classic Rally 2017 – Race Results
Triumph TR7, Carl Tundo / Tim Jessop (Kenya) – 901.55 minutes
Porsche 911, Richard Jackson / Ryan Champion (Great Britain) – 901.55 minutes
Porsche 911, Baldev Singh Chager / Ravi Soni (Kenya) – 922.22 minutes
Datsun 260Z, Geoff Bell / Tim Challen (South Africa) – 934.20 minutes
Ford Escort, Jonathan Somen / Richard Hechle (Kenya) – 971.36 minutes
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