Stiq Blomqvist and his navigator Jorgen Fornander need to stay calm as they seek to secure victory in the East African Safari Classic Rally with just a day left before the end of the marathon event.
The rally will end Friday afternoon at the Whitesands Hotel in Mombasa. The Swedes are leading in the 10-day competition by a mere six seconds from their closest rivals. Their Porsche 911 is followed closely by the similar car of Kris Rosenberger of Austria, who is navigated by compatriot Nicola Bleicher.
Rosenberger was excited about the race though he faced minor issues in the wet conditions.
“It was a fantastic day. The only major issue was the wiper falling off. My navigator Nikki had to get out of the car several times to wipe the windscreen. Niki also did a good job reading the notes,” said Rosenberger.
“It was the best day in office so far. The second stage was a bit rough and tough. But we had no mechanical problem at all.”
The final day of the rally sponsored by Safaricom will be flagged off at 9am from the Whitesands. The last three stages will decide who wins the world’s toughest Marathon Raid Rally. Cars will tackle Kasava/Chanagande (47kms), Chasimba/Vipingo (43kms) Sea Cliff/Mombasa Cement (17.30kms).
Onkar Rai, the winner of the Nakuru and Meru rallies this season, is in third place driving a Porsche 911. Rai led in the earlier stages of the rally but his car developed mechanical problems and he dropped way down the order.
Another Kenyan Aslam Khan, who had maintained his stand as the best placed local driver, dropped down the order after his Porsche developed ball joint failure during the second last stage on Thursday.
Baldev Chager is definitely out of touch even though he has scored a couple of fast stage times since emerging from his earlier major mechanical problems with his Porsche 911.
Like Chager, two-time winner Ian Duncan has had an eventful event in his Rover Vitesse which has stopped several times with mechanical failures.
Duncan, who won the 2009 East African Safari Classic Rally in a 1968 Ford Mustang and followed with another victory in a Ford Capri in 2013 in his Rover Vitesse, is in the sole model of the make in the list of survivors.
Provisional Positions end of Day Nine:
1. Stig Blomqvist (SWE)/Jorgen Fornander (SWE) Porsche
2. Kris Rosenberger (AUT)/Nicola Bleicher (DEU) Porsche
3. Onkar Singh Rai (KEN)/Drew Sturrock (GBR) Porsche
4. Philip Kadoorie (HKG)/Ryan Champion (GBR) Porsche
5. Roger Samuelsson (SWE)/Robin Friberg (SWE) Porsche
6. Eugenio Amos (ITA)/Roberto Mometti (ITA) Porsche
7. Tejveer Singh Rai (KEN)/Gavin Laurence (KEN) Porsche
8. Osian Pryce (WAL)/Dale Furniss (WAL) Ford Escort
9. Baldev Chager/Ravi Soni (Kenya) Porsche
10.Ian Duncan (KEN)/Anthony Nielsen (KEN) Rover Vitesse