INTRODUCTION; A British Ford Escort with a Kenyan crew was leading the field in Kenya's tough Silver Jubilee Safari rally on Friday (8 April).
INTRODUCTION; A British Ford Escort with a Kenyan crew was leading the field in Kenya's tough Silver Jubilee Safari rally on Friday (8 April). Vic Preston and John Lyall, driving with a windscreen smashed by stone-throwing villagers, took the lead from Ford Escort team-mates Bjorn Waldegaard and Hans Thorszelius of Sweden. Atrocious driving conditions plagued the competitors, and knocked out 27 of the 68 starters early in the first stage.
SYNOPSIS: The rally started on Thursday (7 April) from outside Nairobi's Kenyatta Conference Centre. Kenyan Vice-President Daniel Arap Moi flagged off Bjorn Waldegaard's Escort to start the event.
The Lancia of Italian ace Sandro Munari was one of the highest-rated overseas entries, Munari, a three-time winner of the Monte Carlo rally, and a national hero in Italy, came second in the 1975 Safari.
Finland's Timo Makinen was driving a Peugeot, but the Finnish veteran's hard-driving style did not prove successful in the early stages of 6,000 kilometre (3,750 miles) rally.
The favourites, last year's winner Joginder Singh and David Doig of Kenya, got off to a confident start in their Colt Lancer. Joginder Singh is the only man to win the rally three times. He's also been among the top five a record-breaking seven times.
The 68 crews who managed to make the start faced treacherous roads made wet and muddy by Kenya's notorious 'long rains'. The heavy rain caused the organisers to scrap one section of bush track hit by dangerous flash-floods. The rally was expected to be one of the toughest and wettest ever. Once run through Uganda and Tanzania as well as, the SouthEast Africa Safari political troubles have now confined it to Kenya alone.
The first leg was reckoned to be the toughest part of the race. Before they set off, the only female crew, Norwegian Anne Taeith and Kenyan Sylvia King, said that anyone making it through that would be able to finish the course. Sadly for them, they didn't.