The main action of the East African Safari Rally will kick off Thursday morning from Mombasa with a total of 20 contestants, Clerk of the Course Raju Chaggar has said.
While briefing the drivers and crew at Sarova Whitesands on Wednesday during the ceremonial roll off, Chaggar said there was a low number of local drivers in the entry list.
“I’m feeling apprehensive, the rains added more work for me closer to the start of the rally. I have already made alternative plans after spending the last three days of the stages,” Chaggar told Nation Sport.
Debutant Osman Pryce of Wales set the fastest stage time in the opening stage (prologue) of the Safaricom-sponsored competition on Wednesday.
His Ford Escort was followed by the Porsche of Eugenio Amos of Italy, while Baldev Chager was the best placed local driver in the third place driving yet another Porsche.
Kenyans taking part in the rally include Baldev Chager/Ravi Soni, Ian Duncan/Anthony Nielsen, Onkar Rai/Gareth Dawe, Tejvir RaI/Gavin Laurance and Aslam Khan/Imran Khan.
Legendary driver Ian Duncan, in his new Rover Vitesse which is making its debut, says he is hopeful that it will work for him in this year’s rally.
“The car is a Rover ST1, basically a 2.5 Range Rover V8 engine in a car that is long enough for mains, it is quite big, spacious and hopefully it works,” Duncan said.
The Porsche, he said, is really good for the kind of terrain in the rally route this year but he maintained that he will wait and see what the new machine he has to offer.
Duncan commended Baldev for the good performances he has displayed in the last few rallies.
He, however, noted that the low number of local drivers in the rally is due to the tough economic times.
“Times are hard. They need to encourage people by giving better rates and prices,” he said.
Crews will tackle Thursday’s three competitive stages through Makinnon Road/Maungu (75.52kms), Kirubi/Taita Gate (77.70kms) and Mwatate/Shelembwa (55.60kms). Drivers will have an overnight rest at the Wild Life Lodge.
Minti Motorsport Oman Team represented by Scott Armstrong from Britain and Harpal Singh Sudle say they are in the race to have fun.