This week Porsche 911s, Ford Escorts and even a Rover SD1 ripped through Kenya and Tanzania as part of the Safari Classic Rally. While part of the course had to be abandoned, the rally went on and it looks like it was a pretty damned good time.
Austrian Kris Rosenberger and his co-driver Niki Bleicher took home the big prize on Friday with their Porsche after nine days on the road. Their Martini-liveried car might look like the kind of 911 build you’d have seen at Luftgekühlt a few years ago when this style was all over the place, but this one’s the real deal. This one wins races.
The classic rally is designed to celebrate the legacy of the original Safari Rally that once ran through East Africa. The rally started in 1953 in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and continued up through 2003, by which time it was already a WRC event.
Back in the ‘70s, the original rally was where cars like the 911 and the Peugeot 504 Coupe dueled against one another in a test of wits, endurance and, above all else, durability over rough terrain.
Today, teams are still out there racing 2-wheel drive, FIA-homologated cars through Kenya and Tanzania. The cars can’t be built after 1985 and strictly no forced induction is allowed to keep things simple but interesting. The mix has ended up Porsche-heavy, but there are some cool Datsuns and a Ford or two mixed in as well.
If all of this excites you, know that there are ways to get some more. For starters, a documentary was filmed as the 2019 race was run and you should look for it on television soon. If that’s not enough, WRC is back in East Africa next year after a 17-year hiatus too.
Of course, I know watching cars on TV isn’t going to cut it for at least one of you, but that’s totally fine. You can join the party yourself next year if you like with this car that’s for sale on the event’s website. It’s a safari-ized Ford Capri with the underbody guards and suspension travel to cope with the terrain and it’s fully homologated for racing too.
If all that is too much but you’re still looking for your East African Rally fix, check out the rest of the superb photo gallery from this week’s race right here. It’s worth it.