As Vodka Kick driver Steve Perez returns to Kenya, the cradle of mankind in East Africa, the Chesterfield-based multiple rally champion is acutely aware of both the highs and the lows that the forthcoming Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic Rally can offer.

Steve and Swedish co-driver Staffan Parmander have nine days of some of the toughest terrain imaginable ahead of them and already have pre-event dramas to deal with.

The BTR Team is again in charge of running the Datsun 260Z, the very same car Steve drove to an amazing third overall on the last Classic Safari in 2009 but after weeks of testing the car and fine tuning the suspension, the team has encountered a last minute problem as a misfire reared its head less than 24 hours before the ceremonial start.

BTR supremo Tim Ashton suspects that dirt in the carburettor might be the cause but with the ceremonial start taking place at 15.00 local time this afternoon under the famous Elephant Tusks in Mombasa town, the team faces a race against time.

Commenting earlier today, Steve said: “We have had a couple of weeks of really good testing and for the first time I’m happy with the suspension set-up on the Datsun, but now we have this silly misfire interrupting preparations. To be honest I’m a little relieved as things have been going so smoothly I was getting a little concerned!”

Perez is joined in the Vodka Kick Team by Geoff Bell and Andrew Siddall in their respective Datsun 260Zs. Otherwise known as the Gentleman’s World Rally Club (G-WRC) these three drivers have their own ‘championship’ at historic events in exotic locations such as Barbados, Sweden, Mallorca and New Zealand. “I think I may be in the lead at the moment, but it’s the Safari Classic that really counts!”said Bell.

The route for day one tomorrow is not for the faint hearted. Three special stages amounting to 285 kilometres will take the crews from the coastal resort of Mombasa to the foothills of the snow capped Kilimanjaro, Africa’s largest mountain. Along the way the crews will face everything from wildlife (one note reads ‘caution, lions seen here recently’) to thick black cotton mud and breathtaking scenery taken straight out of an Ernest Hemingway novel.

Special stage two also includes the famous Taita Hills where Steve posted his first fastest stage time on the previous event and thus the former British Historic, National and BTRDA champion is brimming with confidence.

For further details please visit www.eastafricansafarirally.com

Picture courtesy of Geoff Mayes: Steve Perez is hoping for a repeat of his 2009 EASCR podium.

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