The 2017 East African Safari Classic Rally came to an abrupt halt Friday following the death one of the senior directors.Jaideep Singh (JS) Vohra Vohra, the chairman of the East Africa Safari Classic Rally, succumbed to injuries he suffered after his vehicle rolled around the Amboseli Lodge while on his way to watch the Marathon Rally.
Vohra was also the director of the Sarova Hotels, which included Whitesands and Pan Africa Hotels, before he sadly met death in an event that fell under his powers.
Raju Kishnani, his fellow Director of the Classic Rally was also involved in the accident, though his injuries were said to be slightly less than Vohra’s. Kishnani was flown by helicopter to the Nairobi Hospital for further treatment.
The second day action was stopped by the organizers soon after hearing the sad news of the leader of the world famous competition.
A Press Release by the organizers has indicated that the event will continue in his honour.
“With deep regret we announce the passing of Jaideep Singh Vohra in a road accident today.
“We believe that he would want the East African Safari Classic Rally to continue as we organizers believe the event should continue in his memory.
Our condolence go to his family and friends,” read the release.
Incidentally, there was another accident in the competition involving the rally car of Steffano Rocca and his navigator Pier Daykins.
”It is very unfortunate but we are out of the rally. We should have been seeded higher up the start order instead struggling behind slower cars. We came over a brow and suddenly found we were not control of the car. The car is destroyed and won’t be in position to be repaired. Thank God me and my navigator Daykins are very fine and with no injuries at all. We are lucky. That is the end of our Classic Rally,” said Steffano.
Meanwhile, Sweden’s Stiq Blomqvist maintained his lead of the 2017 Classic Safari Rally prior to the sudden changes in the competition.
The Porsche driver, who is seeking his second consecutive victory of the Kenya’s major event, had led the event for the last two days of the 10-day competition.
Ian Duncan, the twice winner of the Classic Rally hopes to start Day Three after missing out on Friday’s action after his Ford Capri had encountered mechanical failure on the opening day of the competition.
Duncan’s Capri, which had an engine issue, was under repairs to rectify the problem had his car repaired to allow him to continue with the rest of the competition.
The Classic Rally Rules allow drivers to miss a maximum of four full days collectively or individually with penalties as specified in these regulations and still re-join the rally.
As per the rules, any driver exceeding four days will not be classified. Drivers are also permitted to miss any competitive section for the penalty as laid down in these regulations.
Ramesh Vishram sounded optimistic about his performance though his Ford Escort had minor mechanical problems.
”It was a good day, but such a pity that the first stage had an issue but all in all its been a good start besides the wet conditions. I thank God that we managed to go through. The second stage of Day One was rough. I had to be extremely cautious,” said Vishram, the Cementers Team driver.
Kabras Team leader, Onkar was slowed down behind a lot of cars in the mud holes but he said the team had a good day.
Kabras Team leader Onkar Rai complained of losing valuable times after he was slowed down by several cars stuck in the mud. But he was happy with his performance though losing part of the transmission.
’’However we lost gears and we didn’t have fourth gear but we still set got good times. We will have to see what times we get as we will have to put in a new gearbox. As for the whole Kabras team, we are talking together and we just have to make sure we get to the end,” said Onkar.
Day Three action will move towards Taita Hills with three more stages along the route. Cars will tackle stages through Ol’ Tukai (152kms), Emali (144kms) and IL Laset (38kms) before spending the third night at the Voi Wildlife Lodge.
Veteran Safari Rally, Jayant Shah and his navigator Ravi Chana are motoring well in their Porsche 911 – celebrating the eighth edition of the marathon rally, which is made up of nearly 3800kms of combined transport and competitive sections.
Frank Tundo, one of the famous former Safari Rally drivers and the brain behind the Rift Valley Motor Sports Club Classic Rally, is lying a steady sixth with Gavin Laurence as his navigator in another Triumph TR7.