Coastweek -- The first Audi
to win the original WRC Safari Rally and Audi’s final world
championship rally car is returning to Kenya with winning driver,
Hannu Mikkola, for the eighth edition of the Kenya Airways East
African Safari Classic Rally, SAMSON ATEKA.
A special guest of
Safari this year is the works Audi 200 Quattro that claimed
the top two steps of the podium in 1987, when Walter Röhrl and
Christian Geistdörfer took second place behind team mates
Mikkola and co-driver, Arne Hertz.
“We are delighted
to welcome the Audi Motorsport team back to Kenya, to
celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of a memorable Safari
victory,” smiled Safari Classic Rally director, Raju Kishinani.
“It is also an
honour to celebrate the return of Hannu Mikkola.
“As the first
international driver to win a Safari Rally (in 1972), Hannu
paved the way for so many unforgettable Safari battles, where
a plethora of great manufacturers and budding world champions
pushed glorious machines to the limit against experienced
local heroes in the garden of Africa.
“A Safari win
became the most coveted title in rallying and built an
incredible legacy. The Safari Classic Rally rekindles that
unique spirit every two years.”
Rally manager, Pipi Renu, extended the warm hand of welcome in
“Karibu (welcome) to Audi on its return to Kenya for the thirtieth
anniversary of the legendary Quattro’s only win through the African
Coastweek -- Hannu Mikkola.
“Karibu also to Hannu: Safari champion from 1972, world champion
from 1983 and a pivotal figure in rallying history.
“Every Safari Rally was a fierce test of man and machine against
nature and world-class competition, in some of the most incredible
rally cars ever constructed. 1987 was no exception.
“Battling Blomqvist in a works Ford Sierra Cosworth, Waldegård in a
works Toyota Supra, a four-car works Subaru team and countless local
experts in rally cars specifically built for Safari, Mikkola and
Hertz needed all their talent to emerge victorious.
“As ever with Safari, the cream rose to the top. The 200 Quattro
took first and second positions and Audi finally had a Safari win to
The story is well worth remembering, so we are delighted to help
Audi to commemorate this golden moment in its motorsport history.”
The Audi 200 Quattro will take part in the official pre-rally event
programme, on static display in Sarova Whitesands and also running
on the shakedown event at Vipingo Ridge.
Following the rally start on November 23, the Quattro will accompany
the event to its first overnight stop: Amboseli National Park, in
the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Meanwhile, Tim Mammen will be making his 6th EA Safari
Classic appearance behind the wheel of a new Datsun which he will
run minus the power steering.
Asked how he plans to cope with the tough East African conditions,
Mammen had this to say: “Haha! That rule will not benefit us as the
SSS was never been homologated with power steering.
“I just have to continue with the weight training and sweat it out
on the event.
“I think it is going to be a tough event with the heat at the Coast
so for those with power steering it will be a big benefit.”
The 2017 edition will Mammen’s first event with Keith Henrie having
driven on the initial 2003 and 2005 editions with Jaspal Matharu
and in 2007, 2013 and 2015 with Kishan Bhanderi.
“In all the events we’ve shared driving and navigating
responsibilities and it’s been fantastic fun!
“This time round we have a new Datsun so we will start carefully and
hope to pick up some speed thereafter.
“I would hope for a basically dry Safari interspersed with a little
localized rain as the Datsun is good in the mud.
“I am not sure what the status is with the short rains.
“We did quite well with our old 1600SSS in 2003, 2005 and 2007 so
are hopefully we can improve after having two poor events in a Mazda
RX7 which was not really tried in Kenya.
“The old SSS was a great car and was built in Kenya from scratch
primarily by Jaspal Matharu. I have had enough of the Mazda RX7 that
Kish persuaded us to build.
“The rotary engine has power but it is odd to drive with no engine
breaking and it is bloody noisy.
“That car is sitting in Karen and Kish is still adamant that he
(more like Jim Heather-Hayes as Kish rarely lifts up a spanner) can
get that car to perform in Kenya.
“However, it has still got problems with vibration and a rear
suspension compresses and rebounds in a way that destroys gearboxes.
“So, I’ve decided to go back to the Datsun 1800SSS. The car was
built by the brilliant Stewart Wilkins in Australia and Jim says it
is a beauty. Let’s see how we perform with it.”
Mammen says he is ready and excited with the new partnership with
“Keith is an experienced navigator who has vast knowledge of Safari
“The one thing that will be beneficial to the team is that he’s a
technically savvy co-driver who understands the dynamics of marathon
“The Safari Classic has always been a great adventure and an
opportunity to see old friends.
“I have always savored that long journey: it is the different places
that you get to visit that makes it even more than adventure.
“It’s a big challenge and as I mentioned earlier, our last two
events were not good so we are hoping to improve.”
This year’s Safari Classic is co-sponsored by Safaricom, KWS, Copy
Cat Group, Vipingo Ridge and Dodhia Packaging Limited.