Baldev Chager closed Day One action as the leader of the Safaricom East African Safari Classic Rally.
Chager and his navigator Ravi Soni set three consecutive fastest stage times of the day to give the Porsche 911 crew the upper hand.
Onkar Rai, gave the Kenyan drivers more privilege after taking the second place in a Porsche 911 also. Former winner of the event, Stiq Blomqvist was the best placed foreign driver in the third place giving Porsche another major score.
Twice winner of the rally Ian Duncan was among the major casualties of the first day after his Rover Vitesse stopped in second stage with head gasket problem. There were five more cars which had not cleared SS2 due separate issues.
The Classic Rally rules are flexible. Any crew missing a Time Control faces a penalty of 30 minutes. The crew is allowed to rejoin the event later. A crew failing to finish a stage faces a penalty of ideal time as per Itinerary plus 75% of the ideal time which will be maximum penalty for any competitor.
Each of the crews is allowed two hours Service Time at the end of the Day’s contest. Failing to accomplish the mechanical repairs within that period will cost a further thirty minutes penalty. Resuming with the competition after the 30 minute expiry period, will cost a further two hours in penalty.
Twenty cars left the Sarova Whitesands in Mombasa to start the 4, 500km rally on Thursday morning. Wales’ Osian Pryce, who set the fastest time during the ceremonial roll off on Wednesday left the ramp first.
East African Safari Classic Rally Chairman Raju Kishinani said the drivers covered the first competitive stage of the nine-day rally from Mombasa to Voi.
“The weather has been great, it has not rained for the last 48 hours and we see this as a blessing. We have a very competitive race; we have entrants from 12 countries,” he said.
He said that everything is under control but expressed disappointment at the low number of entrants. “We were supposed to have more cars but some two drivers pulled out at the last minute for their own reasons,” he said.
“We have never started with 20 cars we have always been at 50 or 60 cars. I think it has to do with recession. We have tripled the number of track marshals all through the course.”
Drivers enter the second day of the longer stages. Cars will be flagged off from Wild Life Lodge at 7am. The competition is divided into first four days within Kenya.