Vodka Kick driver Steve Perez might have lost over an hour and a half during the course of today’s three stages but the Chesterfield based rally driver was just relieved to complete the first day of this year’s East African Classic Safari Rally after mechanical dramas and run-ins with the local wildlife.

Steve and co-driver Staffan Parmander were bubbling with confidence at the end of the opening test having posted the third quickest time on the stage, behind only Ian Duncan and Bjorn Waldegaard, both former winners of this event which was pretty impressive considering that this is arguably the finest entry list seen on this event in recent years.

Stage two saw the competitors tackle the famous Taita Hills and the crew were to have a rude reminder of how tough this rally is. A broken propshaft just 18 kilometres into the 85-kilometre stage saw Steve and Staffan stranded until Kick Energy team-mates Geoff Bell and Tim Challen kindly lent their spare propshaft. The ensuing repairs, undertaken by the vastly experienced Paramander, took the better part of an hour. During this time a rather large centipede made an appearance but was rapidly removed from the vicinity by Staffan, much to the consternation of the gathered local spectators!

More time was lost in the third section of the day which meant Steve was now running amongst slower cars and kept catching them during the stage. Then, just seven kilometres from the end, the VK driver encountered a huge mud hole strewn with stranded rally cars. Another thirty minutes was lost whilst enough enthusiastic locals were rounded up, cash changed hands and the Datsun 260Z was hauled out of the thick, glutinous mud.

An exhausted Steve was more than happy to see the check-in control at the end of the day: “This is definitely the toughest day of rallying I have ever done! The propshaft breakage was very frustrating as my team-mate Geoff Bell broke one in testing and so we were aware that it was a weakness but for some reason I did not have a spare in my car. Thanks to Geoff for lending me his spare and as we are awarding five points for each day win in the G-WRC, Geoff now leads the standings.. But not for long if I have my way!”

Day two sees the crews cross over into Tanzania in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro. The first stage is brand new to the event, a 112-kilometre run up towards Arusha. The second section, from Mounduli to Mto wa Mbu, is the second longest stage of the rally at an incredible 142 kilometres which is longer than an entire British National A event all in one timed section. The final test of the day is a short 37-kilometre run back into Arusha for the overnight halt.

In the G-WRC (the self-styled competition which comprises the Gentlemen’s World Rally Club) Geoff Bell lies fifth overall whilst Andrew Siddall has overcome both an overheating issue and a time consuming encounter with the infamous mud hole on stage three to make it to Amboseli under his own power with Perez in third.

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Pictures courtesy of Geoff Mayes.



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