Baldev Chager, winner of the first mini rally in 2018, led a strong field in the World’s Greatest Classic Rally at the end of a first day that saw the competitors start in Nairobi and finish in the shadows of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Chager’s Porsche 911 led Geoff Bell’s Datsun 240Z and legend Ian Duncan’s Rover V8.
Reflecting on the first day, Baldev was delighted to be back, saying; “As long as you are in the Classic, it’s a good day. If you’re happy, smiling and driving a Classic Car, there’s nothing better.”
Many drivers were using the first stage from Corner Baridi to Kajiado to settle in and re-learn their cars after a long absence from the World’s Greatest Rally.
Third placed Ian Duncan’s situation was exaggerated as he had to replace his car days before the start. Duncan’s co-driver, Anthony Nielsen, said; “We were getting ready with another car and then had to pull this one out of the garage at the last minute: Day 1, easy, learn the car, learn everyone and just get back into it.”
The 3 stages covered nearly 200 competitive kilometres that epitomised the unique character of the East African Safari Classic Rally with its challenging dirt roads, stunning picture-postcard scenery and exotic wildlife.
Another unique attribute of the rally was the roadside servicing and teams were swarmed upon by enthusiastic crowds of fans as the Service Crews went to work in front of them.
Reinforcing what a distinctive event this is, “It is very different from the KNRC, it is you driving but most of it is drive by sight, a learning experience for me,” said Maxine Wahome, driver of the only ladies team, co-driven by Safina Khan.
For the first time Rally Raid entrants have been admitted to the East African Safari Classic Rally, the top 3 a clean sweep for CRT vehicles led by Mike Rose followed by Mark Glen and Ross Field.
Looking ahead to day 2, Clerk of the Course Raju Chagger said, “It’ll be another 200 kilometres of Classic competition across 3 further stages. Competitors can expect fast and twisty tracks but with uncertain weather in the area, conditions could change quickly.