NAIROBI, Kenya- The 1984 World Rally Champion, Stig Blomqvist, will be first off the ramp at the 2017 Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic Rally that is scheduled to start and end at Sarova Whitesands from November 23 to December 1.
Blomqvist, who is also the champion, was placed first on the seeded entry list released by organizers East African Safari Rally (EASR) Limited at a Nairobi hotel on Friday.
The “Flying Swede” will lead over 30 drivers out of the starting ramp in the eighth edition of the backbreaking event that will straddle rugged terrain in Kenya and Tanzania.
Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo, son of veteran Safari Rally driver Frank Tundo, is seeded second on the star-studded list which also has Baldev Singh Chager and two-time champion Ian Duncan in third and fourth. The elder Tundo is placed 16th in a Triumph TR7.
Geoff Bell (Datsun 260Z) from South Africa is fifth and will be navigated by his experienced local navigator, Timothy Challen.
Bell will followed by Ford Escort RS 1800 Argentine driver Jorge Perez Companc with Richard Jackson reading the notes (in a Tuthil Porsche) with the able Mazda RX7 of Frenchman Pilippe Gache in seventh.
Jackson has entered the event in a Tuthill Porsche and will be navigated by Ryan Champion who recently tested the vehicle at the Welsh forest with Blomqvist.
Kenya’s star driver Raaji Singh Bharij will team up with Rajay Sehmi in ninth. He will drive a locally built Porsche 911.
Onkar Singh Rai is seeded 10th. He will team up with Gareth Dawe who also his navigator in the Kenyan National Rally Championship (KNRC).
This year’s Safari Classic Rally includes several small but significant changes to the rally regulations, which have encouraged many new European competitors to ship their cars to Africa for the nine-day event.
Power steering is now permitted on the grounds of comfort and safety, and the cut-off age for cars has been stretched to 1985.
During the event to announce the start order in Nairobi, organizers EASR Limited also confirmed the final list of event partners.
“We are glad to welcome KQ and all co-sponsors back to the 2017 Safari Classic. The co-sponsors have not only helped the organization put up a world-class event but injected lots of quality to ensure smooth running,” EASR General Manager, Pipi Renu said.
Kenya Airways were the title sponsors of the inaugural event in 2003 which was held between December 10-19 that year but skipped the 2005 running before returning on board for the 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017.
Leading communications company, Safaricom, joined the party for the first time this year with in a package worth KSh15m in cash and KSh2m in connectivity.
Internet Solutions will be the official Internet and data transmission partners with the Kenya Wildlife Service assisting in the cooperation and planning of all logistics at Amboseli Park.
The Copy Cat Group will provide identity badges as well as photocopying services with Vipingo Ridge also joining as the hosts of the Classic Rally’s shakedown in North Coast that will serve as the fun day for spectators.
Kenya Motor Sports Federation (KMSF) and Automobile Association of Tanzania (AA of TZ) and Dodhia Packaging Kenya Limited round off the event partners.
TOP 10 SEEDED ENTRY LIST
- Stig Blomqvist (TEAM TIDO-Porsche 911/SWEDEN)
- Carl Tundo (Triumph TR7/KENYA)
- Baldev Singh Chager (KABRAS SUGAR RACING-Porsche 911/KENYA)
- Ian Duncan (Ford Capri/KENYA)
- Geoff Bell (BEST WHYSKEY-Datsun 260Z/SOUTH AFRICA)
- Jorge Perez Companc (VIKING MOTORSPORTS-Ford Escort RS1800/ARGENTINA)
- Richard Jackson (Porsche 911/GREAT BRITAIN)
- Phillppe Gache (Mazda RX7/FRANCE)
- Raaji Bharij (Intra Africa Insurace-Porsche 911/KENYA)
- Onkar Singh Rai (KABRAS SUGAR RACING -Porsche 911-KENYA)