Kris Rosenberger is the new Safaricom East African Safari Classic Rally champion after powering his Tuthill Porsche 911 to Victory in Mombasa.
The Austrian and co-driver Nicola Bleicher finished ahead of 2015 Safari Classic champion Stig Blomqvist also in a Porsche 911. Rosenberger held a 1 minute 19.40 seconds advantage over Blomqvist before the final stage and went on to finish second in the final Mombasa Cement stage.
The Austrian who last rallied in Kenya back in 1989 cruised to the finish of the 9-day endurance rally claiming victory by 13:01:48.
His calm and assured march to the podium bellied the excitement that was bubbling underneath and it exploded in a solid steam of joy at Whitesands
“It was a fantastic rally our tactics were 100% right. We know Stig, he obviously the best and we knew if we stay close to him and we had the pace and as we rallied through the last stage we pushed really hard. We also know that it’s really hard to beat Blomqvist and we are aware of that for sure. He had more problems than us and we still think he is the man and we are happy to be here”. Said Rosenberger.
Blomqvist navigated by compatriot Jorgen Fornander used his vast experience in endurance rallying after the tough got going in the last two days.
“ The last 9 days have been interesting, despite the heavy rains which led to cancelling a few stages, we would like to applaud all the drivers for putting safety first and giving the spectators a thrilling experience especially on day 6 across the Old Korogwe, Nzimwa and Mkanyageni stages where crowds gathered at spectators points to watch.” Said Sitoyo Lopokoiyit
In the last section yesterday his Porsche 911 steering dumper broke 50Km into the last stage, while today he had a soft roll in the last Mombasa Cement stage losing some time. Kabras Sugar Racing’s Onkar Rai completed the podium dash finishing third in a Porsche 911 navigated by Drew Sturrock. Onkar managed to post the fastest times winning 6 out of the 20 run competitive stages
“Pretty awesome but disappointed that we could have won this rally but it’s part of rallying but glad to be here. I span in this last stage and luckily we are here. To be honest it’s been a quick safari and to be able to beat people like Stig is pretty big achievement for me. Drew has been on the notes and I have been on the pace. We had a bit of bad luck, it’s part of rallying and we get over it and we would like to be back in 2021.
The other best placed Kenyan’s include Onkars elder brother Tejveer Rai/Gavin Laurence who finished 8th, ALS Motorsports Aslam Khan/Imran Khan finished 11thwhile Kabras Sugar Racing’s Baldev Charger/Ravi Sini finished 14th.
Legendary classic rally driver Aslam Khan was back in the event for the umpteenth time and so was Arusha industrialist Jayant Shah who exited the event after injuring his hand.
Another notable driver who emerged as the new driver to watch was 27-year-old Welshman Osian Pryce navigated by country mate Dale Furnish. Osian set the quickest time in the prologue and went on to rack up fastest times in 4 stages including the 14Km last stage at Mombasa Cement today in Kilifi County.
Local rally ace Baldev Charger was the events front runner in the early days, before the proverbial gremlins set in, but managed to post fastest times in 4 stages too. Out of the 20 competitors that started the 3,390Km journey only 17 managed to survive the demanding conditions between Kenya and Tanzania.
This year’s event was not kind as usual, with several exits registered with Italys Gilberto Sandretto navigated by legend Fabrizia Ponz, forced to end his run sighting important personal reasons back at home that he had to attend to. Another exit was Kenya’s Rommy Bhamra who left the rally unexplained.
In staying with the true nature of the safari classic rally the weather played a major role in cancellation or revision of several stages.
Day 3 itinerary was cancelled after torrential rain and subsequent flash floods played havoc rendering several sectors of the stages impassable forcing the organizers to give the competitors an extra near full day service in Arusha, Tanzania.