• Short Summary

    The Datsun rally team took the top two places and had five out of the first ten places at the end of the East African Safari Rally on Sunday (22 April) at Nairobi, Kenya.

  • Description

    The Datsun rally team took the top two places and had five out of the first ten places at the end of the East African Safari Rally on Sunday (22 April) at Nairobi, Kenya.

    The winner on points was Shekhar Mehta with his navigator Lofty Drews in a Datsun 240Z, jus easing out Swedish driving ace Harry Kallstrom, driving a Datsun Triple S. A Peugeot 504, Swedish driver Ove Andersson at the wheel, was third.

    Of 89 cars which began the gruelling rally on Thursday (19 April) only some 25 survived the 3,000 miles (5,000 kilometres) of punishing driving.

    On the tough leg of the rally -- reputed to be the world's hardest -- Mehta took over the lead as the remaining cars fought their way through the rugged Iten and Tamback Escarpment area.

    Going into the hairpin dirt turns of the escarpment, the lead was held by another Datsun driver, Rauno Aaltonen.

    Datsun mounted a massive service operation to back up its team of cars, as did Ford of Britain, which took the trophy in the 1972 rally. But Ford's last hopes of a leading place in the rally were dashed in the final leg as last year's winner, Hannu Mikkoa, was taken out of the race with steering trouble in his Ford Escort Rally Special.

    Mehta, this year's winner, is a local Kenyan entry.

    The rally exacts heavy punishment of both cars and drivers. Entrants are expected to maintain an average speed of sixty miles an hour (96 k.p.h.) throughout -- often over narrow, unimproved dirt roads.

    SYNOPSIS: A Datsun two-forty zed (240Z) driven by local Kenyan driver Shekar Mehta has won the East Africa Safari Rally. The high-powered Datsun team took first, second and fourth in the gruelling rally, and placed five cars in the top ten finishers.

    Peter Huth of Kenya, driving a Peugeot five-oh-four (504) is seen taking his car through the torturous turns of the rough last leg of the race, through the Iten and Tamback Escarpment region north of Nairobi.

    Peugeot was the only other make to be paled in the rally -- third spot taken by Ove Andersson, also in a Peugeot five-oh-four.

    Datsun, which lost a two-year hold on the rally with last year's win by British Ford, mounted a massive service programme to keep its cars on the road, in spite of the punishment.

    Rauno Aaltonen, seen here in the final leg, held the lead about three hundred miles north of the Nairobi finish, but rolled off the road and out of contention.

    Cars from the Peugeot and Fiat stables made brave efforts, but the rally was dominated by the Datsuns. Ford and Datsun have had a see-saw battle with the rally in recent years.

    The risks of covering the three thousand miles in an average sixty miles an hour can be seen in Zully Rantulla's battered Datsun eighteen hundred.

    Of the eighty-nine cars that stared the rally, only about twenty-five survived to the finish.

    For the Ford team, the rally was a string of disasters. Hannu Mikkola, in number 4, took Ford's last chance out of the rally in the last leg with steering trouble. Mikkoa won the rally for Ford in 1972. Ford had led this year's rally for the first half. Then Britain's Roger Clark retried with steering trouble and two other top teams rolled off the treacherous roads.

    The Ford misfortune left a clear field for Mehta's Datsun win.

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