Morning Qualifying – S is for Safari edition

The Ford Escort RS1600 of Hannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm during the 1972 East African Safari Rally.

First run in 1953, to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the East African Safari rally quickly developed a reputation for being the most challenging rally of all.  For nearly 2 decades, Europe sent it’s best cars and drivers to Kenya and Tanzania, and each year the Safari sent them home empty handed   It seemed only locals, like Bert Shankland, Bill Fritschy, Nick Nowicki and Joginder Singh, had the special skills necessary to conquered the Safari.  With each passing year, the European crews grew more determined.  Sooner or later, their luck had to change.

The Datsun 240Z of Shekar Mehta. The Datsun works team won 3 times in 4 years between 1970 and 1973.

In 1972, the Ford factory team faced down a stiff challenge from the locally driven, Datsun works backed 240z’s and a host of privately entered Bluebird 1600SSS’s.  Luck finally turned in Europe’s favor as Hannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm (the same pairing that won the grueling 1970 London to Mexico City World Cup Rally) seized victory for the Ford Works team in their Escort RS1600.  Check out this short film documenting the ’72 East African Safari Rally.  You can practically feel the humidity and taste the grit!






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  1. Mr_Biggles Avatar

    Well said.

  2. Armand4 Avatar

    How tough was the East African Safari Rally? In 1963, of ninety-one registered entrants and eighty-four starters, seven cars finished. SEVEN.

    1. raphaelinberlin Avatar

      reminds me of DARPA grand challenge driverless races – no cars finished at all in its first race in 2004, and in 2005, or 195 applicants, only 43 teams went to qualifying, of which 23 made it to the actual race, of which only 5 cars finished. The people behind the winning team (Stanford) are now in the development team for the driverless google cars. engineerd is right – there's plenty of great racing going on today

    2. Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr. Avatar
      Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.

      The Safari and the Bandama (Ivory Coast) rallies were both car eaters.

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