NAIROBI, Kenya- Raaji Bharij has been seeded first for the 2018 Top Fry Classic Safari Rally that revs off from Nanyuki on Friday with the Savage Rally Team out to make an impression in the gruelling Easter showdown.
Bharij with his navigator Rajay Sehmi in their Porsche 911 will be first of the ramp in the race that hopes to recreate the old Easter magic when the Safari used to be the country’s staple in the past.
Fresh from winning the 2018 Safari Rally that was a test event for Kenya to re-join the World Rally Championship calendar next year, Carl Tundo with his trusted co-driver, Tim Jessop, are seeded second.
Tundo’s Triumph TR7 machine will be followed off the ramp by the pairs of Geoff Bell/Tim Challen, local rally legend Ian Duncan/Amaar Slatch (Ford Mustang), who missed the Safari for the Classic showdown and Baldev Chager/Ravi Soni in that order to round the top five starters.
The Savage team made up of three classic Datsun Rally cars will be racing in the five-day rally event organized by Rift Valley Motorsports Club to raise funds and awareness on the plight of the critically endangered Kenyan Mountain Bongo antelope.
Currently under breeding management and protection at the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy (MKWC), the rare Kenyan Mountain Bongo antelope has a population of about 100 in the wild globally, way below the threshold of 250 mature individuals required to make a genetically stable population.
Drawn for flag off at positions 12, 16 and 23, the Savage squad has Jonathan Savage navigated by Kieran Day in a Datsun 260Z, son Quentin Savage navigated by Adam Bowen in a Datsun 180B. The third car will be driven by Steve Parkinson and Russell Savage in a Datsun 260Z.
Speaking ahead of the flag off, Team Leader, Jonathan said the three cars will spot distinct Kenyan Mountain Bongo livery with Bongo Moja, Bongo Mbili and Bongo Tatu identity tags on their windshields.
“We are all set for the second round of the Rift Valley 1000 Classic Rally which will also see the Savage Rally Team actively step out to support on-going Bongo conservation efforts at the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy near Nanyuki town,” the elder Savage said.
“The Mountain Bongo is a critically endangered antelope that deserves concerted efforts for its survival,” he added.
The Top Fry Classic will be flagged off by Laikipia County Governor, Nderitu Muriithi from the Sweetwaters Serena Camp at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Laikipia County, tomorrow.
Drivers will cover a competitive distance of more than 1000kms through the gruelling Laikipia and Baringo County terrain ahead of the Parc Ferme finish at Lake Bogoria Spa Resort on Monday.
With about 70 Mountain Bongo antelopes at the MKWC, The Kenyan Mountain Bongo, is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species which is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species.