CLOSE

26

DAYS

The 5th Classic Safari Challenge 2014

1st - 26th May 2014

Choose Tab
  • Rally Home
  • The Route
  • The Participants
  • Rally Reports
  • Questions & Answers
PAUSE PLAY

After four successful Classic Safari Challenge’s we are now planning the 5th, and naturally hope this will go down as the best yet in the series… nobody else has quite the same past-experience of route-planning for vintage and classic cars in Africa, and the following agenda is now under our microscope as “highlights” of a 26-day event, planned for May 1st, finishing back in Cape Town.

 

With the emphasis on top-notch out of the way luxury lodges and small hotels, we won’t make this any bigger. Fascinating cars, and interesting people, will make for some great company, given there is a strong social element to this event.

You take advantage of a return air-ticket, and simpler and less-costly shipping formalities with a start and finish from the foot of Africa. Naturally we will use our past experience to avoid the hum-drum monotony of roads like the Caprivi Strip, our emphasis is on the experience of driving remote countryside, interesting and challenging driving-days, under big Africa skies, with schedules planned within the bounds of a Vintage car, in order to concentrate on the social-side… and viewing the wild-life on game-drives, blended with plenty of time-off.

This is a dedicated event where the numbers are deliberately kept small. Our past events have been mostly couples – limited to 24 cars. Anything bigger and it will not be as friendly… and access to the tiny lodges becomes impossible.

Chartering a squadron of light-aircraft to escape from the driving for a couple of days to visit a luxurious lodge in the heart of the Okavango bush is something we have past experience of… (our 2011 Classic Safari had two such air-lifts, one to a desert island in the Indian Ocean).

This is a concept of rallying where the emphasis is on personal attention, backed up by the most experienced sweeper-mechanics and Rally Doctor, a concept other Organisations now want to copy. However, there can be only one Original – and the track-record we have gained from over 12 events in Africa provides you as an Entrant the reassurance that comes from knowing you are in good hands… peace of mind that comes from knowing the Organising Team have the experience to deliver should Africa serve the unexpected.

PAUSE PLAY

The Route – Day by Day

Day Date Route Country
1 2nd May 2014 Cape Town  to Mossel Bay South Africa
2 3rd May 2014 Mossel Bay  to Beaufort West South Africa
3 4th May 2014 Beaufort West to Cradock South Africa
4 5th May 2014 Cradock to Golden Gate National Park South Africa
5 6th May 2014 Golden Gate National Park to Drakensberg Mountains South Africa
6 7th May 2014 Drakensberg Mountains to Mbabane Swaziland
7 8th May 2014 Mbabane to Sabi-Sands, Kruger National Park South Africa
8 9th May 2014 Sabi Sanda, Kruger National Park – Rest Day South Africa
9 10th May 2014 Sabi-Sands, Kruger National Park to Tzaneen South Africa
10 11th May 2014 Tzaneen to Mapungubwe South Africa
11 12th May 2014 Mapungubwe to Matopos National Park Zimbabwe
12 13th May 2014 Matopos National Park to Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
13 14th May 2014 Victoria Falls  –  Rest Day Zimbabwe
14 15th May 2014 Victoria Falls  to Nata Botswana
15 16th May 2014 Nata to Okavango Delta Botswana
16 17th May 2014 Okavango Delta – Rest Day Botswana
17 18th May 2014 Okavango Delta to Popa Falls Namibia
18 19th May 2014 Popa Falls  to Etosha Namibia
19 20th May 2014 Etosha National Park – Rest Day Namibia
20 21st May 2014 Etosha to Twyfelfontein Namibia
21 22nd May 2014 Twyfelfontein to Swakopmund Namibia
22 23th May 2014 Swakopmund to Sesriem Namibia
23 24rd May 2014 Sesriem to Fish River Canyon Namibia
24 25th May 2014 Fish River Canyon to Clan William South Africa
25 26th May 2014 Clan William to Cape Town South Africa

The adventure starts on Friday 2nd May in Cape Town.

The Cape Grace boutique Hotel is in the heart of Cape Town’s Water Front overlooked by the iconic Table Mountain, a perfect base to start the great Southern African exploration. On the first day we are having an early lunch in the Boschendal Wine Estate, in Franschhoek, before crossing the Karoo (always an interesting region) and on to Mosel Bay. We may be lucky and sight whales or sharks in the bay early the following morning.

 

We travel over the Karoo to Cradock where we stay in a street of 19th century Dutch-gabled cottages providing one of the most original and atmospheric hotels in the world – everyone raved about this fascinating spot last time, so it would be a crime to not revisit this unusual hotel where standards of service and attention to detail providing such a talking point on our last event.

On into Lesotho – across the roof of Africa; then to the Cathedral Peak Hotel, nestling in the foothills of the mighty Drakensberg mountains, (stunning scenery, it’s where the film Zulu was filmed), and on through the battle sites of the Zulu Wars and into the Kingdom of Swaziland.

From Swaziland we travel into the Kruger National Park and the fabled Sabi Sands Reserve. Here we will spend two nights with some of the extensive game-viewing in Africa. From the Kruger we move via Blyde River Canyon to The Agatha Coach House. This is the oldest and one of the best stopovers in Africa.

Onwards into Zimbabwe – this is a totally new dimension to our series of Classic Safari events – and the impressive site that constitute the ancient remains of Great Zimbabwe. On to the Victoria Falls and a full day to enjoy the ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya ‘the some that thunders’: as we are visiting just after the rainy season the Falls should be at their mightiest. For the more adventurous there is white water rafting and helicopter trips and for the very brave – bungee jumping. Staying under the thatched-roof of a splendid hotel on the south-side, we have the very best of the Victoria Falls by venturing into Zimbabwe.

After a days rest, we travel into Botswana through the Eastern Kalahari before flying into the Okavango Delta for what is considered one of the worlds greatest wildlife experiences.  A day off to explore the Delta followed by a quick plane trip and a day drive through the ‘Okavango Panhandle’ to Popa Falls in Namibia. We have booked a squadron of light planes, and organised safe garaging of our cars for this unbelievable trip that puts the social-side of rallying first!

 

After a days drive we reach Etosha National Park; another exhilarating wildlife experience and the best place in the world to see the much endangered Black Rhino. A day of exploring Etosha where great herds of elephant abound, and then on to the infamous Skeleton coast via some of the worlds oldest and most extensive rock paintings at Twyfelfontein…

Over the sand and salt roads that run down the Skeleton coast of Namibia (the world’s oldest desert), and into the old German colonial town of Swakopmund.  After a night in Swakopmund we continue onwards to Sesriem and the world’s most impressive and largest sand dunes before crossing the haunting beautiful Namib Naukluft Park where the light plays tunes on the contrasting grass desert and the stark mountains.

The following day we visit Fish River Canyon. Although 160kms long, up to 27kms at its widest and 600 metres at its deepest it may, or may not be, the World’s largest Canyon it is very impressive.  After days in the atmospheric Namibian deserts by complete contrast we will stop for the night in the old fishing port of Lambert Bay for some beautiful sea food.

 

The following day a triumphant return to Cape Town via the Cape of Good Hope; where the two oceans meet; and the delights of the Cape Grace Hotel prize presentation.

The 2014 Classic Safari Challenge Participants

Updated 12th April 2014

Participants Motorcar Engine size
Vintageant (pre 1941 type cars)
Andrew Long(GB) / Gina Long(GB) 1928 – Crossley 15-7 Silver Tourer 1950
Keith Ashworth(GB) / Norah Ashworth(GB) 1928 – Bentley 4½ Tourer 4398
Peter Lambert(USA) / Linda Lotriet(ZA) 1934 – Lagonda M45 4453
Bruce Washington(NZ) / Judy Washington(AUS) 1937 – Dodge Coupe D5 3300
Udo Bichler(ZA) / Hermine Bichler(D) 1939 – Buick Coupe 4000
Classics (pre 1966 type cars)
Ernie Gabiati(USA) / Jeanne Gabiati(USA) 1949 – Willys-Overland Jeepster 1750
Richard DeLuna(USA) / Matilde DeLuna(USA) 1950 – Willys-Overland Jeepster 4300
Phillip Haslam(GB) / Yvonne Haslam(GB) 1954 – Jaguar XK120DHC 3442
Salome Pouroulis(ZA) / Scott Pouroulis(ZA) 1956 – Chevrolet Bel Air 4000
Jock Burridge(NZ) / Shirley Burridge(NZ) 1957 – Mercedes Benz 220S 2195
David Harrison(GB) / Julia Harrison(GB) 1959 – Porsche 356A 1600
Dennis Varni(USA) / Kathleen Varni(USA) 1961 – Ford Falcon GT 5700
Nicholas Pryor(GB) / Lesley Stockwell(GB) 1962 – Volvo 544 1780
Larry Hursh(CAN) / Carolyn Hursh(CAN) 1963 – Ford Falcon Squire 5000
Peter Lovett(GB) / Zoe Lovett(GB) 1965 – Porsche 911 2500
Alan Beardshaw(GB) / Tina Beardshaw(GB) 1965 – Sunbeam Tiger 4260
Marco Halter(CH) / Claudia Engelhardt(D) 1965 – Volvo PV544 1780
Michael McInerney(GB) / Eunice McInerney(GB) 1966 – Ford Mustang 4700
Greg Kennish(AUS) / Jennifer Kennish(AUS) 1966 – Jaguar 3.8L S Type 3800
Classics (post 1966 type cars)
Ed Howle(USA) / Janet Howle(USA) 1967 – VW Beetle 1600
Bill Cleyndert(GB) / Jacqui Norman(GB) 1968 – Austin 1800 1800
David Roberts(GB) / Jo Roberts(GB) 1968 – Triumph TR250 2498
Jose Romao de Sousa(PT) / Maria Romao De Sousa(PT) 1968 – Volvo 142 1993
Gianmaria Aghem(I) / Rossella Conti(I) 1971 – Lancia Fulvia Coupe 1291
John Crighton(AUS) / Marian Crighton(AUS) 1973 – MGB 1798
Greg Newton(AUS) / Liz Newton(AUS) 1980 – Holden Commodore 3300
Others (4 x 4 cars)
Do Meeus(NL) / Els Meeus(NL) 2006 – Toyota Landcruiser 4164
Colin Ryan(AUS) / Janet Greeley(AUS) 2010 – Nissan 4×4 Xtrail 2000

DAY

1

May 2

Safari Diary from Mossel Bay

A crystal clear morning with an empty blue sky breaking across the top of Table Mountain pulled away the white table-cloth of misty haze just as the band started to play. The deep baritone bassoon-note of a six-cylinder Bentley engine firing into life, followed by the drumbeat V8s of  a brace of Ford Falcons joining in, started the 5th Classic Safari with a noisy send off.

 

Ahead are 24 days covering 8,000 kilometres of some of the finest driving roads on earth, stopping each night at top-notch accommodation which is either luxurious, quirky, eccentric and different from the norm, or, occasionally a night of all four. Conceived by the Endurance Rally Association’s Martin and Sue Clark as something radically different, the Classic Safari blends great driving by day with culinary extravaganzas by night.

This the first day saw, us drive through dramatic passes with high cliff walls as a narrow road corkscrewed its way up from Cape Town and into the Karoo Region in time for lunch at Clarke’s Restaurant (call it a cafe will earn you a remonstration from an owner who is not to be argued with. Mike Clarke sports a drooping moustache and rather looks like a gunslinger from Wyatt Earp’s gang of deputies). The entire Rally rocked up here for lunch, hitched their horses by the water trough, and sat out on the boardwalk where a variety of different dishes had been prepared for us all.

The route today consisted of long gravel sections cutting between rolling hills, a rocky road that dived between tiny remote homesteads of whitewashed walls and corrugated-iron roofs. The route proved sensational in one outstanding respect – we drove for several hours and didn’t meet another driver. Totally traffic-free, apart from a lonely biker on a big BMW. It was a long day in bright warm sunshine that ended on an uphill dirt hill limb for our first timed Medal Section, a timed to the second test.

 

Best performance was the red and white ex-London-Sydney 1800 Austin “Landcrab” of Bill Cleyndert and Jacqui Norman, which romped over the dirt with the engine screaming its nuts off due to its ultra-low gearing, pipping the replica 1964 Monte Carlo Ford Falcon GT, a rare car we have not seen before on an E.R.A. event. Dennis Varni had the big V8 growling so hard the sound echoed down the valley and could be heard cresting the summit by those lining up for the start of the test back down by the river.  Third best classic was the Porsche 911 of Peter Lovett. Best Vintageant was Bruce and Judy Washington in their Dodge D5, just beating Peter Lambert’s Lagonda M45.

Our day ended overlooking the sea at Oubaai, back on the coast and a little further along from the sharks in Mossel Bay, in a luxury golf resort. Only one car is being worked on out in the carpark, the Ford Falcon estate of Larry Hursch has found the roads really do call for stronger suspension, and their car needs two shock absorbers. As it’s a late start tomorrow the crew have time for some early morning shopping in town before we re-start. Car one, the Vintage Crossley, had a tough day today but is here in time for dinner, having suffered some overheating issues – the bonnet side panels can’t be removed to aid airflow as someone has welded them permanently in place. We love this great old car – it was a Crossley that became the first-ever car to motor the length of Africa from Cape Town, taking 12 months to reach Egypt in 1924. That car’s lady driver, Stella Court-Treat, arrived into Cairo with her clothes in rags. Today’s Crossley crew of Andrew and Gina Long are dining in style here tonight – no sign of the period rags though.

Syd Stelvio

DAY

2

May 4

Safari Diary from Cradock

Our cars are parked in chevron formation, lining Market Street in the old Dutch-gabled town of Cradock. In the fading light of the day they are ready for tomorrow’s re-start looking as if they are all urging their drivers to perform a mass start by running across the road in Le Mans style. Getting here has been a gentle drive through the vast empty plains of the Karoo, passing fields of long fescue grass that bows as we drive past the creaking tin windmills that pump up water from artisan wells. Long plumes of dust spiral out like vapour trails from behind each car as the Classic Safari thunders east into the early-morning rising sun.

 

It has taken two days since our last report to reach Cradock. We had set out from Oubaai, Mossel Bay, to drive over the stunning Swaertburg Pass, breathtaking, in every sense, the route plan of Kim Bannister won universal praise at the summit: “Marvellous… what an amazing road, so well worth the effort,” was the verdict of Philip Haslam as he parked his Jaguar XK140 at the top of the mountain.

There was then the tricky matter of negotiating the descent, steep and rocky several crews overheated their brakes, Keith Ashworth stopping for a prudent pause to let the big drum brakes of the six-litre Bentley cool off, but the crew of the Chevrolet Bel Air, Scott and Salome Pouroulis, lost their hydraulics and had a more nerve-racking descent requiring the attention of the sweep mechanics.

Coming into Beaufort West last night the vintage Crossley required a new water hose. So, what would you do? If you knew you had arrived at civilisation at the end a long day, knew that behind at least one of the many doors there must be the solution to your problem, but found no garage open, and all the shops had closed? Andrew and Gina Long remembered being told at the briefing that “rallying is an initiative test”, so they drove around town until they found the police station. Here they asked the question: where in Beaufort can we fix a vintage car with a leaky radiator hose? “Madam, you have come to the right place, you are welcome to use the police repair workshop around the back”. Alas, the adventures of the oldest car in the event are not yet over, it was overheating again first thing this morning, and looked like a change of cylinder head gasket was now needed. The crew had packed a spare.

 

Here in Cradock we are in the totally unique hotel where the staff jump to attention under the strict control of Sandra Antrobus, who owns the place, and has taught the establishment of the town a thing or two when it comes to enterprise. After buying the hotel on the corner of Market Street, Sandra realised what the hotel needed urgently was more rooms – this was the only way to be successful. All the banks in town refused her a loan. Undaunted, she forged ahead, eager to prove everyone wrong. Fired by a single-minded vision, Sandra bought out the butcher’s shop opposite, then the cottage next door, then another shop, and like a real life game of Monopoly, kept buying until every building in Market Street was hers, and quickly converted into an extension of her hotel. So, when you come to stay with Sandra, and breath deep on the hotel’s atmosphere of paraffin lamps and candles that light up all the old Victoriana that hang from the walls, you are taking in one very special place.

No other hotel in South Africa is quite like Sandra’s Hotel.  When you are given a large old brass key you are escorted down the street and find yourself fiddling with a hundred-year old lock to the front door of a cottage. You don’t get a room here, you get an upstairs, a kitchen, a front room… The whole cottage is yours. Staff leap about to attend to your every need because Sandra’s regime is that of an ultra-strict disciplinarian. Needless to say, the food is excellent. Attention to detail blended with the understated elegance of a street that was so run down it was once regarded as beyond the help of bankers or council grants today looks resplendent in understated elegance… and is now rated so highly it’s become a National Heritage site.

As a result of all this energy, Nobody on the Cradock Town Council dares to mess with Sandra, who single handed has delivered them a hotel so special, it was once described by the food critic of Oldstager magazine as “the most memorable hotel in the world – if not the finest”. The four-poster brass beds are a bit creaky, along with the the broad maple floorboards, and the wind is getting up as the sun goes down with the view out of the rattling bedroom window looking out over miles of empty plains of the Karoo… reinforcing Sandra’s wish that all her guests leave her hotel with their experience of Cradock deeply etched in the memory.

Syd Stelvio

 

DAY

3

May 5

Safari Diary from Golden Gate

A long day of 640 kilometres has taken us the to the edge of the Drakensberg Mountains. Driving out from the eccentric delights of the Victoria Manor Hotel has brought us half way up a mountain to The Golden Gate Hotel with dramatic Drakensberg views from every bedroom window.

 

After a hearty breakfast the Rally pulled out of Cradock and after a long but spectacular day all of the crews made it to the night halt it before darkness shrouded the valley road at 6.00pm. The trouble-stricken vintage Crossley rolled up the drive at 5.00pm, now shorn of its distinctive brass radiator and dark blue bonnet – a garage in Beaufort West having cured the overheating issue by fitting a Toyota truck radiator. With no bonnet and no brass surround the car looks an odd sight, but can bowl along at 60 mph drama-free.

Two timed tests today held on a remote gravel road were successfully run without the hinderance of any local traffic. Open road motoring is truly alive and well and can still be found here in South Africa. The best performance on the first Medal Section in the Vintageants class was once again Bruce and Judy Washinton from New Zealand in their Dodge. As they have already won a gold medal however, the award goes to second best, the Bentley crew of Keith and Nora Ashworth, (you can only win a medal once but that doesn’t deter the competitive-minded such as Bruce and Judy). Third was Peter Lambert in a Lagonda, which was later dogged with electrical problems, fixed by roving sweep mechanics  Andy Inskip and Tony Jones.

In the Classics division, the Ford Falcon, a replica of the Monte Carlo team-cars, crewed by Dennis and Kathlenn Varni, growled through the dust clouds blowing in the early-morning sun to post best time overall, the sound of the V8 giving advance warning to those manning the stop watches. Second best was yet again the Porsche 911 of Peter and Zoe Lovett, and third the red and white ex-works BMC 1800, a car that was used as a route-recce car for the 1968 London-Sydney and went on to take second overall on the E.R.A.’s London-Cassablanca, and third on the London-Luxor Trial to the Nile. Driver Bill Cleyndert was complaining of a lack of power this morning but its hydrolastic suspension seems to romp over the ruts and potholes of the dirt tracks with complete composure. Greg Newton in the Opel Commodore was limping on this section with the engine firing on only five cylinders. The problem was diagnosed as distributor issues.

On the second longer test section the Porsche finally overhauled all others, Peter and Zoe Lovett winning the Classic category gold to be presented at tonight’s dinner. Peter Lambert and Linda Lotriet collect Vintageant gold for their third place behind Keith Ashworth’s Bentley and the Dodge of Bruce Washington, who both have already won.

Syd Stelvio

DAY

4+

May 7

Safari Diary from Mbabane

Day 5:  Golden Gate to Cathedral Peak – The early-morning mist rolled down the valley just as the first engines were firing into life for the start of another great day.

 

We drove through the Drakensberg mountains on twisty demanding Tarmac roads – no Medal Sections today – to the Cathedral Peak Hotel, which sits on a dead-end road down a long valley surrounded by the awesome peaks of the amphitheatre. The region is so breathtaking it is now rated as a UNESCO Heritage Site. The Cathedral Peak Hotel, and the valley, were chosen as the base-camp and film-set for the making of the epic war film ‘Zulu’. It is here that Stanley Baker and Michael Caine acted out the epic battle of Rorke’s Drift, which remains to this day the only battle to see as many as eleven Victoria Crosses awarded for outstanding bravery.

The hotel has a reputation for outstanding food and the dinner did not disappoint. As after-dinner entertainment, Philip Young gave a short talk on how the film came to be made and the story of how 120 soldiers, outnumbered by forty five to one, beat off a determined attack by 4,500 Zulus.

Day 6:  Cathedral Peak to Mbabane – We drove out of the mountains and pounded down a long main road to cross the border into Swaziland. Along the way we took time out to first compete on a dusty gravel road for another Medal Section.

 

Results were:  1st, the 1800 BMC Landcrab of Bill Cleyndert; 2nd, the Ford Falcon of Dennis Varni; 3rd, Peter Lovett in the Porsche 911. The gold medal went to car 18, the Ford Mustang of Michael and Eunice McInerney. The best Vintageant was once again Bruce and Judy Washington in their rapid Dodge Coupe.

We then took time out to visit the small museum in the shabby run-down wooden building of Rorke’s Drift, and crossed the Buffalo River at the same spot where the invading British Army who broke a treaty marched into Zululand in 1879.  We followed a similar route of the soldiers to Isandlwana. Here 1,500 soldiers equipped with cannons, rockets and the latest Martini-Henry rifles were massacred in little more than two hours by 25,000 Zulus, the only time an entire Regiment has been wiped out by an enemy.

The Rally stopped en masse at the Isandlwana Lodge for an excellent spot of lunch, taking time out to see the site of the fighting, now eerily marked with cairns of white stones in the long grass. These mark the burial of groups of British soldiers – but the Zulus who were defending their families and homeland from the ravages of ethnic cleansing have no memorials.

By the evening we had crossed our first border, into Swaziland and drove on to our night halt at the Royal Swazi Sun hotel where our evening dinner is an outdoor braai (a traditional Southern African barbecue).

Syd Stelvio

DAY

7+

May 9

Safari Diary from Sabi Sands

Day 7: Mbabane to Sabi Sands  – We left the opulent surroundings of the Royal Swazi Hotel with its manicured lawns and gardens for the short haul to the Kruger National Park via a very easy border crossing back into South Africa.

Crews were given a detailed map and were free to choose their own route across the vast expanse of the safari park. For the adventurous, gravel and dirt roads led out into the bush. Elephants and rhinos criss crossed the road chomping their way through the scrub. Our day¹s drive ended when we exited the Kruger on its northern boundary only to enter a smaller game reserve, Sabi Sands.

 

Only the Jaguar XK120 of Philip and Yvonne Haslam suffered any problem, failing to re-start at the gate of Sabi Sands. The sweep teams of Robert Kitchen, Tony Jones and Andy Inskip were quick to sort the trouble, even quicker when the Rally Director suggested the electrical coil would be the source of the bother if it was a Chinese replica of the original Lucas item… and sure enough, it wasn’t bad fuel, a blocked filter, distributor issues or just overheating, the coil was found to have packed up. The driver had no spare, but the sweeps overcame that and soon had the Jaguar going again. How often does this happen? Just about on every event someone comes unstuck using these replica coils.

At Sabi Sands the Rally divided into three, to lodge for two nights of unparalleled luxury in three different ‘camps’ – small individual chalets, set in the forest. After a buffet lunch we joined a fleet of open Land Rovers for a three-hour game drive. For the first time in a week, someone else was at the wheel and looking after the navigation.

All three camps are truly excellent. Your correspondent is based at Kirkman’s and on our game-drive we quickly discovered a pride of lions settling into their evening dinner of baby giraffe. We were able watch, hear and smell the visceral spectacle from a ringside seat just ten-feet away. Somewhat incredibly, the lions were totally unperturbed by a crowd of humans rocking up in a diesel Land Rover.

 

We came across this animal several times as we threaded in and out of the thick bushes.

An al fresco dinner, drinks and an open fire under a huge swathe of deep black sky peppered with millions of stars was waiting for us on our return.

Day 8: Sabi Sands – Kruger National Park –  Our first rest day – after a full week on the road. Terrific beds with large feather pillows, and no buzzing insects, meant we all slept soundly until we were woken at 5.15am for a second game drive. This again proved quite remarkable, with good sightings of elephant, hippo, leopard, zebra, giraffes and more yet more lions along with countless exotic birds. Our drive finished soon after sunrise with a full buffet breakfast served in a shaded clearing on trestle tables by an army of liveried waiting staff.

The day is meant to be a chill out day with time for catching with laundry and sending postcards, but for the sweep mechanics, there’s little time off as there is always servicing and fettling to attend to ready for when we get back on the road.

Syd Stelvio

 

DAY

9+

May 13

Safari Diary from Victoria Falls

Day 9:  Sabi Sands to Agatha Coach House – The day began well before dawn – a 5.0am reveille. Everyone is taking part in their final game drive before getting behind the wheel and moving onwards. We were back at camp three hours later, crews reunited around the breakfast table to swap stories of yet more rhino, lions and leopards, and today’s newcomers, several honking and belching hippos.

 

After another extensive al fresco breakfast on the terrace, we threw our bags into our cars for the drive of 300kms to Agatha Coach House, a collection of Dutch gabled white-washed Old Colonial cottages set amid magnificent gardens with rolling lawns bordered by flowering wisteria and colonnades of matching blue milk-maids.

Our drive took us down arrow straight roads, through several villages and a rocky canyon. Some of us took time out to stop at a roadside scrapyard to inspect the remains of two old Mk2 Ford Escorts, one four-door with a fairly sound body ripe for restoration is up of sale at £400. A red two door, looking much worse, was a fraction of that and we even found a Peugeot 504 in drive away condition – start bargaining at £1,500. With that little distraction over we returned to the job of pounding down yet more hot bitumen. Orange and mango plantations along with commercial forests lined the route as we climbed up through the green hills to the lovely old Agatha Coach House.

Over tea on the lawns, the happy crews exchanged experiences of the past 48 hours. All, that is, except Judy Washington and Zoe Lovett, who began setting up an evening of entertainment with hilarious party and parlour games. Quite how Maria de Sousa came to be blindfolded and feeding Rally Director Philip Young jelly and custard (while also blindfolded), and quite how Janet Howle ended up riding around on Philip’s back is probably best left unreported. The star of Judy’s show was undoubtedly Gina Long who, we can reveal ended up well mummified with a thick wrapping of toilet paper.

 

Day10: Agatha Coach House to Mapungubwe Camp – A misty start for us today meant that the stunning views of the previous evening remained hidden. A swift exit from the hotel was followed almost immediately by a short Medal Section on a hard murum – red dirt – track through a eucalyptus plantation.

Under increasingly blue skies, Peter Lovettt set the best time in his white Porsche 911; Dennis Varney was second in the Ford Falcon, with the Lancia Fulvia and 1800 Landcrab trading seconds. A notable effort was also put up by the Mustang of Mike and Eunice McInerney who set a surprising pace given that much of the course was twisty… The big V8 was a couple of seconds behind the Lancia driver Gianmaria Aghem and Rossella Conti, who won the gold medals. Our day ended at a Safari Lodge of tiny thatched cottages and another tasty BBQ.

Day 11: Mapungubwe Camp to Matopos Camp – Another early start today due to a border crossing – South Africa into Zimbabwe via Beitbridge.

The three Zimbabwe Tourist Authority guides the ERA had tasked with ensuring the safe passage of the Rally swung into action. Carnets, immigration documents and insurance policies were filled out, handed in and duly stamped and we must thank our partners for their invaluable help here.

 

The day was not over at the border though, as there were some serious kilometres to get through and once the border was cracked the Rally got down to business on some surprisingly good roads under a broiling sun.

Finally we arrived at the end of a long and dusty day to a tented encampment in a game park just outside of Bulawayo under the big African sky just as the sun was setting. With their cars in good order, many of the crews took time off for a stiff walk up the side of a rocky hill to watch the sunset from a World Heritage Site and see the grave of Cecil Rhodes, the Victorian explorer and entrepreneur who founded Rhodesia, now named Zimbabwe, and a man who almost completed his vision of linking up the entire length of Africa with a railway.

We dined together with tables lit by candles under a starry night so clear we could even pick out the Southern Cross from the vast constellations above our heads… The Milky Way covered our campsite in the crisp clear air, confirming that our only night under green canvas tents, set up for us by Forever Africa, would be chilly one.

 

Day 12:  Matopos Camp to Victoria Falls –  To the sound of 40 or so zippers being reluctantly slid open, the Rally emerged blinking into the dawn, ate a hearty breakfast and got back on the road.

Today’s prize though was worth the effort. At the end of a long haul that took us from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls, we pitched up at an oasis of calm, the whitewashed Victoria Falls Hotel. With its rising spray – the ‘smoke that thunders’ – the world’s largest waterfall can be seen from several bedroom windows and the lawn where Nikki Bannister is giving crews their room keys.

It’s been an amazing drive so far and this spot is just the place to sit back and reflect on the first half of it.

We are in one of the top hotels in Africa and certainly the best in the vicinity of the Falls for two nights, tomorrow is a day off. Time for some domestic chores, some light maintenance and a bit of sightseeing.

Syd Stelvio

DAY

13+

May 19

Safari Diary from Etosha

Day 13: Victoria Falls – Rest day – After last nights banquet of crocodile and thick fillet steak, beef we hasten to add, there was possibly no better feeling than to wake up in the five star luxury that is the 1930s Victoria Falls Hotel. Throwing off the thick Egyptian cotton sheets, we made our way to the breakfast terrace, The Jungle Junction, via the million dollar view of the bridge over the Falls. A sunrise left an orange mist which hung in the air as the cloudless blue of the sky promised another fabulous day.

 

And what a day it was going to be, there was a plethora of activities on offer – lion petting, helicopter flights over the cataract, the Game Park with elephants drinking from the edge of the River Zambezi, a wet and wild walk along the side of the Falls themselves or a simple but luxurious spa treatment.

But for some, the morning was taken up with maintenance issues and car concerns. As usual the sweeps were busy but none of the problems they were presented with proved to be serious. Andrew and Gina Long’s Crossley needed attention to its radiator, Marco Halter was looking at the clutch of his Volvo whilst Greg Newton and Bill Cleyndert gave their machinery a wash and brush up. Andy Inskip kept himself out of trouble fabricating a new gear linkage for the VW Beetle of Ed and Janet Howle.

The day was rounded off in spectacular fashion with a sunset river cruise up the beautiful Zambezi river where the crews were able to watch hippo and crocodile whilst sipping a civilised G&T and nibbling on a selection of canapés. As the big red African sun set the full moon rose to give an incredible double header.

Tomorrow we will somehow have to drag ourselves away from here and get on with the Rally.  We leave behind one of the finest hotels on the African Continent.

 

Day 14: Victoria Falls to Nata –  We drove to a beautiful thatched lodge inside Botswana, after an easy border crossing out of Zimbabwe at Kazangula.

Along a long straight bitumen road we skirted the Chobe National Park, with elephants grazing in the long grass beside us, and arrived by mid-afternoon for refreshing drinks and a lazy lunch along with a dip in the pool.

Day 15: Nata to Maun and by plane to Okavango – We left at first light for a steady drive to the small but busy town of Maun, on the South side of the Okavango Delta, the world’s greatest wetlands area.

And, after a chaotic hour in the departures hall of the airport – where timings for our squadron of 16 planes booked exclusively for the E.R.A. seemed to be changing by the minute, we were eventually bundled into the Cessnas for a 30 minute flight to four luxury camps in the middle of the Delta. This was to prove yet another highlight of the event. Most of us took to small agile aluminium boats for a “game drive” by river and a most spectacular sundowner before we returned to the comforts of our wonderfully exotic small lodges, set in one of the wildest and most peaceful regions on earth.

Day 16: Okavango Camp – Rest day – Our four idyllic camps set in the heart of the wetlands could not be more comfortable.

The Classic Safari Rally was split into groups for yet more game drives, long lazy lunches and dinner parties by candlelight with vocal entertainment provided by the chefs and staff who serenaded us with traditional song and dance, before we ate. A nightcap of Amarula liqueur, sitting around a roaring log fire rounded off a perfect day. It had all been a memorable experience, a world away from the rigours of driving a classic car across the heart of Africa.

Day 17: Maun to Popa Falls via Drotskys – Air Traffic Control in Maun got the message – by satellite  phone – that we were ready for our early morning airlift back to the cars.

 

At 7.45am we jumped into the open 4x4s and headed out to the grass air-strip. Some of this took our Land Rovers hacking through thick 10ft-tall grass of reed and long Fescue and even involved at one point wading through axle deep water as we rocked our way slowly over boggy ground to the airstrip.

Within minutes of arrival at the strip the faint sound of a plane could be heard buzzing over the top of the surrounding jungle, and the first plane comes into view, suddenly dropping down to skim over the tree-tops and then again falling rapidly onto the end of the short strip. In a cloud of swirling dust the little Cessna spun round, sending up more dust, and with its big single engine on tick-over we were once again strapping ourselves in to hurtle back down the bumpy strip.  The pilot had the plane on full revs as the wheels beneath us whisked over the brittle branches of a line of Acacia trees that stand like sentries at the far end of the baked earth landing strip.  At 900ft we are passing over the heads of elephants below, then a heard of water buffalo… and we are heading back to civilisation and the manic bustle of Maun aerodrome.

The entire experience of staying in the middle of the Delta has been a wonderful highlight of the entire journey.

Day 18: Popa Falls to Mushara – It’s good to be back behind the wheel on the fabled graded-gravel of Northern Namibia.

 

Under the hottest of suns and deepest blue African skies we have engines racing again on an open road Medal Section. This is 50 kilometres with a seriously long and dusty gravel road with few sweeping bends through open bush. Best performance went to the Ford Mustang of Mike and Eunice McInerney, which just pipped the Falcon GT of Dennis and Kathleen Varni, who sped past the finish checkpoint manned by Lee and Sue Vincent, who would not stop the stopwatch until the Ford had come to a standstill. This overshoot cost Dennis a few seconds, enough to allow the Mustang to steal first place. Third best and on form was the Volvo 142 of Jose and Maria Romão de Sousa, who collected the gold medals at dinner.  The Washington’s flying Dodge was yet again best Vintageant, with the gold medals going to Andrew and Gina Long in the 1928 Crossley.

We all arrived at Mushara camp where we enjoyed more fabulous African hospitality in several small lodges.

Day 19: Mushara to Etosha – With today designated a transit day we set out early for the crossing of the world famous Etosha National Park.

 

We experience Zebra herds crossing the road while some see elephants, giraffes and ostriches in the road… All that is except Andrew and Gina Long who are turned back by an officious park-gate ranger who, despite having no objections to the vintage Bentley, refuse access for the Crossley on the grounds that their car has no side screens.

While arguments continued in the hot sun at the gate, the luckless crew were overtaken by open sided Toyota Safari vehicles. As this is being written Andrew and Gina are on a 300 kilometre detour around the edge of the park to Andersons Camp, where zebra are drinking from a pool 25 yards from our dinner table.

Syd Stelvio

DAY

20+

May 22

Safari Diary from Swakopmund

Day 20: Etosha Camps to Twyfelfontein – This has been our finest driving day so far… that’s the universal verdict from all those propping up the mahogany bar at the top of the large thatched and beamed lodge nestling in the landscape of the red cliffs of Twyfelfontein.

The Classic Safari has visited this lodge during a previous event, and our drive from Anderson’s Lodge (a wildlife Safari camp that also featured in previous routes) took us across country down some truly spectacular driving roads.

We have had some great gravel drives up to now but nothing quite as spectacular as this. Firstly, the tracks had all been freshly graded and, apart from the odd wash-away, they were virtually pot-hole free. We hammered down fast flowing open roads leaving long rooster-tails of spiralling dust that hung in the still air of the early-morning light. It was over two hours before we saw another car – a farmer’s pick-up truck, and the entire morning just bore on and on like this – fantastic open-road motoring. Where else this side of Mongolia can you drive for hours like this?

 

Naturally, on tracks this good we had to stage a couple of Medal Sections. Results on the first saw a narrow win for the Porsche 911 of Peter Lovett, disappointing his keen rivals with Ford V8 engines. Second was the Mustang of Mike and Eunice McInerny, and third the Ford Falcon of Dennis Varni. Bill Cleyndert’s 1800 was seconds behind, just ahead of the Lancia Fulvia. The Volvo of the de Souzas was sixth and the XK Jaguar of Philip and Yvonne Haslam seventh, who won the first of today’s Gold Medals.

On the second Test of the day, the McInerny Mustang beat the Varni Falcon while Jose de Sousa pulled out all the stops in the well-campaigned Volvo 144 to take third. The Lovett Porsche settled for fourth, having found the marbles in the quartz gravel particularly slippery. The Cleyndert  BMC 1800 ended seconds behind in fifth place. Greg and Liz Newton collected Gold Medals finishing seventh in their three-litre Opel Commodore.

Our film unit caught the crews’ reactions at the end of all this, with Bill Cleyndert grinning from ear to ear once more saying it was “all fantastic” but again bemoaning the lack of power in his 1800, which has not disgraced itself as it’s the first Landcrab to beat a Porsche 911 since 1968. As for the Porsche, Peter Lovett’s words behind his sunglasses were simply… “Today is rather like driving on ice”. Dennis Varni was also keen to express a desire to beat the Porsche, adding: “It’s the only thing that matters in life right now”. His growling Ford Falcon however is being given a tough time by the surprisingly consistent effort from the Mustang crew.

 

We arrived at the well camouflaged lodge with its big thatched roof blending into the shadows of the large round boulders of the cliff face just as the sun was going down, the red rocks responding to the sunset with a rich orange glow.

It has not been an easy day for some, with several members of the Organisation nursing punctures – once again the sweeper mechanics are unlikely to be attending tonight’s dinner, with the Crossley having made it in tonight, but again seeking attention of Tony Jones, Andy Inskip and Rob Kitchen, with medic Mark Van Rennsburg also getting his hands oily. They would be working long into the night. Meanwhile in the restaurant, Maria de Sousa took to the dance floor and others joined in with a round of singing initiated by the kitchen staff. It has been a long day – followed for some by what looks like a long night.

Day 21: Twyfelfontein to Swakopmund – A late start to the morning for a change, with an easy day ahead meant there was time to take in a rocky walk to inspect the remains of some ancient cave paintings.

 

Reputed to be thousands of years old, first discovered by a German sheep farmer in 1921, this is now a World Heritage site. Zebra, a lion, and antelopes have been etched into the faces of several large rocks – visiting this spot isn’t easy, you are soon clambering over large boulders, all rather like the lower reaches of Mount Snowdon.

With that out of the way, we got back to the driving. Today’s route took in the fringes of the great Namibian Desert, the oldest desert in the world, before turning South to run down a 50km section of the Skelton Coast, past the wrecks of several rusting hulks.

As yesterday though, with roads as good as this, we also ran a Medal section through a dry and dusty valley before the lunch halt in Uis where most of the crews took advantage of the relaxed timing for the rest of the day to enjoy an alfresco lunch.

We arrived at the night halt, the Swakopmund Hotel, a converted railway station and yet another ‘eccentric’ lodging for the Rally. First built for steam locomotives in 1901, the two platforms now form the two wings of the hotel. Where railway lines once divided the two halves of the station, there is now a swimming pool. It has been a hot day but the evening air down here on the coast is decidedly cool and nobody has yet gone to get their swimming costume.

Out in the car park the sweeper mechanics are busy as usual, with one team yet to arrive as they shepherd in the Haslam’s Jaguar with fuel problems. The Crossley’s adventures also continue. This time it’s sounding serious with rumours circulating that the 1928 Vintageant is suffering from gearbox failure. Another long night for the support team sounds inevitable.

Syd Stelvio

DAY

22

May 24

Safari Diary from Solitaire

Day 22:  Swakopmund to Solitaire – We set out from the converted railway station of the Swakopmund Hotel and headed South. Firm salt roads take you out of town but you soon find yourself pounding down arrow-straight gravel roads once more.

 

There is no such thing as rush hour in Namibia, and the route rapidly takes us out of town and once again head storming through stunning terrain. But no two days have ever been the same on this road-trip, and our early morning run saw the sea-mist that had rolled in from the Skelton Coast during the night lifting just in time to catch our first glimpse of the giant sand dunes on the edge of the Namibian Desert.

Our route turned East then South, with a checkpoint at the cafe of Solitaire. The place is famous for the rusting car wrecks perched in the cactus outside the bakery. Morris Eight tourer, Ford Zephyr, Peugeot 404, and a Chevy Coupe are timeless relics here, slowly decaying into the sand, where nothing rots away quickly in this dry desert air. Everyone stops awhile, swaps stories, as time cards are stamped before heading on another 30 kms to our hotel, in a setting of simple low rise brick bungalows surrounded by palm trees.

Our evening saw most take to a fleet of open jeeps for a sundowner out in the dunes, watching the sun set from a peak overlooking a terrific view of the plain stretching out to the far horizon and the setting sun. The gin and tonics flowed well.

Trouble today? Three cars are in difficulty. The Haslam’s Jaguar has lost top gear, but the crew seem perfectly optimistic that they will make it to Cape Town, the crew of car 11, the yellow Jeep of Ernie and Jeanne Gabiati, lost a front wheel when the front wishbone snapped, and the Crossley…. is sadly out of the event, after a determined effort. This time the clutch has disintegrated. The car is to be shipped home and The Long’s are to continue with us all having now joined the Hertz Class.

 

For the record, here are the results of yesterday’s Medal Section: 1st, Dennis Varley, Ford Falcon; 2nd, Peter Lovett, Porsche 911, four seconds behind; 3rd, Mike McInerney, Ford Mustang, four seconds behind the Porsche; 4th Jose de Sousa, Volvo, three seconds behind the Mustang. The Lancia was 5th and the 1800, now suffering gearbox problems, settled for 6th. Gold medals were won by the Sunbeam Tiger crew, Alan and Tina Beardshaw.

Syd Stelvio

DAY

23+

May 25

Safari Diary from Clanwilliam

Day 23: Solitaire to Fish River Canyon – Another terrific day out on the range… everyone has been carving their way southwards across the vast prairie of Namibia’s desert, finally arriving at Canon Roadhouse for a coffee pit-stop and a top up fuel. It has been a long day to this spot, where we have finally ended up a short run from the dramatic cliffs of Fish River Canyon.

Canon Roadhouse has a collection of rusting relics from the  late 1930s, mostly Chevrolet saloons, coupes and worn out trucks, plus a very rare eight-cylinder Lincoln. Some wrecks even decorate inside the cafe, festooned with photos and automobilia on the walls.  This proved an excellent place to sight the final Time-Control of the day.

 

It’s been a dramatic day for some. News of car 16, the Lovett’s Porsche 911, is still sketchy, but informed sources close to the sweep mechanics suggest that early this morning the rear suspension collapsed. With a tyre resting on a wing, Peter felt forced to sadly retire the car that finished a strong second in the Classics section of the last Peking Paris. The crew are flying from Windhoek to Cape Town, with the Porsche now being shipped home.

As for our other Porsche, the little 356, David and Julia Harrison stopped in Bethanie, a small farming village, where they easily found help found help to fix a puncture. The one pump filling station couldn’t help crews with fuel as the entire village was suffering from an electricity power cut, so the pump attendant turned his hand to sorting the Porsche’s tyre problem instead.

Also cracking a suspension wishbone today was the De Sousas’ Volvo 144, veteran of many marathon events, but the Volvo can hopefully be welded, so the crew are optimistic of making the finish in Cape Town. The final  few days of the event have upset the positions at the top of the leader-board as the reliability-factor is now coming well to the fore, and influencing the final outcome. For example, the 1800 Landcrab was limping along today, a rear shock absorber having broken away with its top mounting having torn itself off from the bodywork – an issue down to a simple lack of reinforcement of the area that has to absorb a lot of stress, a problem we see repeating itself regularly on long events.

 

The crew of car 6, Scott and Salome Poroulis, were looking happy tonight – the Chevrolet Bel Air having cured problems with its automatic gearbox, but it continues to emit ominous rumbling noises.

Our route today took in a short 11km Medal Section, mostly all uphill on a twisty gravel main road, free of traffic. Quickest was car 20, the Ford Falcon of Dennis Varni, who beat the Mustang of Mike McInerney by two seconds, in third place came Jose de Sousa in the Volvo was two seconds adrift of the Mustang. Fourth was car 26, the Lancia Fulvia of Gianmaria Aghen.

We are due to finish on Monday. Our finish line is south of Cape Town, at the beach where the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean.  But first we have to finish our North to South crossing of the world’s oldest desert, taking in the final two Medal Sections along the way, and then cross the frontier into South Africa for a breath-taking run through the Cederberg Mountains – a drive planned without timing so everyone can fully savour the remarkable scenery of this gravel road. The sting in the tail of this month-long road trip is finally reaching the Cape of Good Hope, while hoping the tow rope remains untested…. and celebrating together in the long bar of the Cape Grace, where we had all set out from on May 2nd.

Finally: we are sad to report the untimely death of Steve Hyde, who had planned to join us before becoming too poorly to drive. Steve made a remarkable impact on the world of historic rallying, as well as making a large number of friends. His first event was the Nile Trial in 2009 driving a Jaguar MkII, a year later he won the Peking to Paris, driving a 1937 Chevrolet Fangio Coupe. Steve regularly dropped in to visit the team at the Rally Office – always cheery and always looking forward to the next event. A great character, he will be missed by many.  Our sympathy goes out to Janet, who nursed Steve to the end with the kind of dedication only real love can provide.

Day 24: Fish River Canyon to Clanwilliam – This is the longest day of the event – with an excellent start to the day on very remote gravel roads for two time trial Medal Sections, tracks also used on the ERA’s London to Capetown Rally a couple of years ago.

 

The day began with the sun rising over Fish River Canyon, an enormous gorge carved over millions of years by the Fish River, a sort of Colorado Grand Canyon without a single tourist in sight. This is the second largest canyon in the world.  It was an early start today with over 500 kilometres to get under our wheels to reach Clanwilliam, on the start of the final section through the Cederberg Mountains.

On the first Medal Section, again it was the V8 Ford Falcon of Dennis Varni who set the best performance, pipping the McInerneys’ Mustang easily by 22 seconds – the Mustang crew had been complaining of serious steering issues overnight, suggesting to the sweep mechanics ‘only one wheel seems to be doing the steering” – not that anything seems to slow this crew. In third place was the Volvo of Jose de Sousa, one second adrift of the Mustang, and fourth was taken by the little Lancia Fulvia, fighting hard to the end.

On the second test – which features in the opening sequence of the film of the London to Cape Town, which ends with a series of undulations and blind crests that sees any car seriously trying yumping with air under the wheels, it was the Mustang that set best time, romping well on 14:33, beating Varni’s Ford which has a similar engine which posted 15:16, Bill Clyndert threw caution to the winds of Namibia and hurled the heavy BMC Landcrab at the track to finish on 16:30, taking third place, with a joint finish for fourth, the Lancia and Volvo PV544 of Marco Halter and Claudia Engelhardt matching the time of the Italians.

 

Two British sportscars have impressed with their consistent reliability so far on this event: The MGB, car 27, John and Marian Crighton, has been well prepared and run so far like clockwork despite its limited suspension-movement, and the well developed red Triumph TR5 of David and Jo Roberts. This car is probably the most well-travelled Triumph in the world, and is now a veteran of long distance marathons on at least five Continents… the smooth-sounding engine sounds glorious when accelerating away from time-controls and is a tribute to the diligent time spent in a workshop before the event, it carries nearly as much ground-clearance as the little Lancia, which looks as if it could clear three house bricks stacked on top of each other, and also has been largely trouble-free. The Lancia was built up from a bare shell to Safari specification for the last Peking to Paris.

If there was a special award for the biggest drama of the day it would go to the German Udo Bichler, who today slid wide on a gravel bend and beached his Mercedes 230 saloon in the bushes. With all four wheels sinking into soft sand, having missing several large rocks by inches, he had to wait for a tow from the Long’s who are travelling in the Hertz Class – a 4×4 rental car, which they describe as “dead boring”. Soon after posting the slowest time of the day as a result of this mishap Udo, who is competing on his own after his wife decided to return home due to family commitments, then limped through the second test suffering from a rear puncture.

Tomorrow is our last day – Cape Town’s table-top mountain and the waters off Cape of Good Hope signal the end of an event which Bentley driver Keith Ashworth has described as “the best event I’ve ever driven”.

Syd Stelvio

DAY

25

May 26

Safari Diary from Cape Town

Day 25: Clanwilliam to Cape of Good Hope – We left after our final breakfast together to drive the last section of the rally back to Cape Town, aiming for the very last time control of the event sited on the cliff top of the Cape of Good Hope.

Cars arrived at the southernmost point of Africa to be greeted by bus loads of surprised tourists… and a troop of curious baboons. Some crews only just made it – the big heavy Chevrolet Bel Air was making sickening grinding noises as it finally pulled up, the Volvo of Marco Halter from Switzerland arrived with the clutch virtually burnt out, and the Haslam’s got to the finish in their XK Jaguar minus top gear.

 

Drivers took in the sea air and met up with each other for a clifftop lunch with stunning views of the confluence of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Our route today had taken in the ruggedly beautiful Cederberg Mountains which have featured on our past events but this time organised with slack timing so all could fully appreciate the scenery in the early morning light.

Crews spent the afternoon at their leisure, exploring the Cape and making their way back to the splendours the Cape Grace Hotel on the Waterfront. A prize-giving tonight saw a night section in the famous quayside bar which boasts possibly the finest range of whiskies south of Gleneagles with no less than 100 different malts lining the front of the mirrored shelves.

Dusty and dirty, the line-up of cars opposite the polished railings of one of one of the best hotels on the African Continent makes an incongruous contrast, and all looking very different to the line-up at the start of this marathon road trip 25 days ago.

Trophies have been presented to Dennis and Kathy Varni for best overall performance in his Ford Falcon, Mike and Eunice McInerney qualified in second spot, surely the best drive we have ever seen by a Ford Mustang crew, and third place was taken by the determined effort by the de Sousa’s Volvo, with fourth place secured by the Lancia Fulvia driver Gianmaria Aghem.

The best performing Vintage crew has been the hard-charging Bruce and Judy Washington in their Dodge, who set a pace which was regularly out-gunning many of the later cars in the Classics Class, however, while this car is undoubtedly rapid, the crew collected a penalty for missing a time trial following a breakdown, so the Vintage Class trophy went to the William Medcalf-prepared Bentley of Keith and Nora Ashworth, who enjoyed a very reliable run. Second Vintageant trophy went to the Dodge crew, and third place went to the Lagonda of Peter Lambert and Linda Lotriet. The unmodified Lagonda, still with its original 1930s leather seats has driven this vast loop of Southern Africa with remarkable reliability. Its troubles have been confined to a dented wheel rim – repaired overnight by our Andy Inskip – and a broken headlight.

 

The Spirit of the Rally Award went to Nicholas Pryor and Leslie Stockwell in their venerable Volvo, against All Odds was Salome and Scott Pouroulis, who nursed the heavy Chevy Bel Air daily, and the True Grit Trophy went Andrew and Gina Long for their efforts with the ill-fated 1928 Crossley. The sweep mechanics presented two awards for two crews who drove such reliable cars that their help was not required – the MGB of John and Marian Crighton, and David and Julia Harrison in their purple Porsche 356.

Amid all the joyous celebrations on our final day came one piece of very sad news – our central organising genius who has assisted the E.R.A. in many African events, Bob Whalley, died earlier today after a long illness. Bob worked on the hotel bookings and provided much inside advice to help refine our events from his Jo’burg office for over ten years, including all five Classic Safaris, and the first ever London to Cape Town World Cup Rally. He also helped the planning of our Fiat Panda record run last year which took two World Records for driving non-stop the length of Africa. Without slick logistical planning the record held by the British Army for 21 years would not have been broken.

Syd Stelvio

DAY

25

May 26

The 5th Classic Safari - Final Results

No. Participants Motorcar Penalty Pos’n
Vintageant Cars
22 Keith Ashworth(GB) / Norah Ashworth(GB) 1928 – Bentley 4½ Tourer 3 1
2 Bruce Washington(NZ) / Judy Washington(AUS) 1937 – Dodge Coupe D5 24 2
3 Peter Lambert(USA) / Linda Lotriet(ZA) 1934 – Lagonda M45 124 3
1 Andrew Long(GB) / Gina Long(GB) 1928 – Crossley 15-7 Tourer nlc
Classic Cars
20 Dennis Varni(USA) / Kathleen Varni(USA) 1961 – Ford Falcon GT ~ 1
18 Michael McInerney(GB) / Eunice McInerney(GB) 1966 – Ford Mustang ~ 2
25 Jose Romao de Sousa(PT) / Maria Romao De Sousa(PT) 1968 – Volvo 142 ~ 3
23 Bill Cleyndert(GB) / Jacqui Norman(GB) 1968 – Austin 1800 ~ 4
26 Gianmaria Aghem(I) / Rossella Conti(I) 1971 – Lancia Fulvia Coupe ~ 5
17 Marco Halter(CH) / Claudia Eugelhardt(D) 1965 – Volvo PV544 ~ 6
28 Greg Newton(AUS) / Liz Newton(AUS) 1980 – Holden Commodore ~ 7
24 David Roberts(GB) / Jo Roberts(GB) 1968 – Triumph TR250 1 8
12 David Harrison(GB) / Julia Harrison(GB) 1959 – Porsche 356A 1 9
27 John Crighton(AUS) / Marian Crighton(AUS) 1973 – MGB 1 10
21 Alan Beardshaw(GB) / Tina Beardshaw(GB) 1965 – Sunbeam Tiger 3 11
8 Nicholas Pryor(GB) / Lesley Stockwell(GB) 1962 – Volvo 544 5 12
7 Jock Burridge(NZ) / Shirley Burridge(NZ) 1957 – Mercedes 220S 32 13
10 Phillip Haslam(GB) / Yvonne Haslam(GB) 1954 – Jaguar XK120DHC 53 14
14 Ed Howle(USA) / Janet Howle(USA) 1967 – VW Beetle 100 15
5 Udo Bichler(ZA) / Hermine Bichler(D) 1972 – Mercedes Benz 230-4 383 16
19 Larry Hursh(CAN) / Carolyn Hursh(CAN) 1963 – Ford Falcon Squire 517 17
6 Salome Pouroulis(ZA) / Scott Pouroulis(ZA) 1956 – Chevrolet Bel Air 601 18
11 Ernie Gabiati(USA) / Jeanne Gabiati(USA) 1949 – Willys-Overland Jeepster 795 19
9 Richard DeLuna(USA) / Matilde DeLuna(USA) 1950 – Willys-Overland Jeepster nlc
16 Peter Lovett(GB) / Zoe Lovett(GB) 1965 – Porsche 911 nlc
Touring Category
15 Greg Kennish(AUS) / Jennifer Kennish(AUS) 1966 – Jaguar 3.8L S Type ~
30 Do Meeus(NL) / Els Meeus(NL) 2006 – Toyota Landcruiser ~
31 Colin Ryan(AUS) / Janet Greeley(AUS) 2010 – Nissan 4×4 Xtrail ~
PAUSE PLAY

The Classic Safari Challenge 2014 – Rally Reports

Visit the The Classic Safari Photo Gallery to find  Gerard Brown’s event photographs

Blog links |  David and Julie Harrison  |  Bruce and Judy Washington

Relive the 2014 Classic Safari with this video slide-show of Gerard Brown photographs

The ERA 5th Classic Safari Challenge started from Cape Town on 2nd May, follow the adventure here with Syd Stelvio’s regular reports posted from Africa.

Questions & Answers

Can anyone enter ?

 

Yes, this route is suitable for both Newcomers and experienced crews. The roads are mostly good smooth tarmac with a few tests on Gravel sections. A simply tulip roadbook, marked in Kilometres (miles also shown) is supplied which is easy to follow, even useful fuel stops are indicated. We give every novice entrant a booklet packed with hints and tips on navigation and every driver, a car preparation book, with full instructions on how to prepare the car specifically for this route. You do not need a Garmin GPS satellite system, but you may bring a GPS if you wish.

What about the Medal sections?

The Medal Sections are optional, we don’t have these every day, only where the route and road conditions permit, you can drive these as often or as little as you like, make your mind up on the day, if you choose to miss out a section then you simply head off to the Hotel. Medals ore presented to the winners at evening meals.

What equipment do I need ?

Simply, a suitable car fitted with a tripmeter such as a Monit or a Halda, a 1.75 Litre fire extinguisher, first Aid kit, 2 x warning triangles, tow rope and an under car mat to catch leaks. You don’t need a competition license, helmets or fancy overalls. Full harness seat belts must be fitted to all cars except Vintageants, although we strongly recommend Vintage cars have a seat belt, and a rollover bar, hoop or full roll cage is strongly recommended for all. The drivers will also need an International Driving License for Swaziland, available from the RAC for £5.50 each. Overseas entrants should apply to their own relevant Motoring Organisation.

 

What if I break down on the event?

We do expect you to be able to change a wheel, the points, plugs and air filter yourself but we are taking our own mobile mechanical support vehicle complete with two highly skilled mechanics for anything more complicated. Their vast experience will keep you on the road, even if it means working all night. You simply have to bring the spares from the list we issue and they will do the rest!

What about a Carnet de Passage?

The Rally Office will send you the relevant forms to complete for a 10 page carnet, We gather them together and apply for a Group Carnet, which is the cheapest way, you are then asked to pay the fee of £185 for the actual book and a separate fee for the risk. The fee is based on the value of your car which you specify, the lower the vehicle value the lower the actual fee.

What about Shipping?

Cars should be shipped to Dar Es Salaam six weeks before the event start. You can use any shipping agent but we have used CARS UK for our shipping for 15 years, they are efficient and slick and can ship your car from anywhere in the world to the start in Tanzania and home from Cape Town. They handle all customs, insurance, import charges etc, you simply hand over your keys. They personally attend at the port to do the “hustling”. Contact Jeremy Barker: Tel +44(0)1284 850760 or email [email protected] for a fixed quotation. Cars UK estimate that the whole trip for a car shipped from Europe will be less than £5,000.

What about Visas?

Holders of British Passports only need a Visa for Tanzania and Mozambique which will cost a total of £142.00 per person and takes 5- 7 days to be processed. Non UK entrants should check Visa specialist website www.travcour.com which lists which nationalities require visas for the countries on our route.

What about the compulsory Travel/Medical cover?

The insurance brokers Campbell Irvine Ltd, offer a Travel/Medical insurance policy which covers you for rallying anywhere in the world with full repatriation cover. Full details will be sent to you nearer the start date. You may source your own policy but it must cover Medical repatriation so the ‘Flying Doctor” service can attend to you. We will be taking our own fully qualified Doctor and Nurse on the event, who will supply you will full medical notes , a list of recommended vaccinations and details of the type of first aid kit you need.

Vehicle Insurance?

We buy Third Party vehicle insurance at the borders on your behalf, this is included in the entry fee. If you want to buy Fully Comprehensive cover then you can arrange this with Marcus Atkinson at Hagerty International Ltd. Tel: 08700 420 220 . Marcus or Phil Dunne can arrange cover for any car wherever in the World it is registered. Contact Phil by email [email protected]

What else do I need to know?

Further information about suitable clothing, currency, fuel availability, Satellite phones, accommodation etc will be sent out to all entrants in regular newsletters. Anything we think you need to know, any forms to fill in are all supplied by us and sent to you. With 12 events in Africa under our belt we know what is needed.

What is not included in the entry fee?

Fuel, Some lunches, Carnet de Passage costs, visa costs, flights, shipping, personal travel insurance.