The Nation (Nairobi)

20 September 2007

Kenya: Twincam - Motor Sports - Waldegaard Ready for Challenge

Nairobi — Sweden's Bjorn Waldegaard is geared up for an outright victory in this year's Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic Rally.

The world rally star and winner of the Safari Rally on four different occasions, talked to Daily Nation at the end of his test programme by the slopes of the Ngong Hills, on Tuesday.

"I'm very confident we can win the rally after having tested the car today. My main reason for testing the car was to check the engine tune up and I am very happy," said Waldegaard at the end of one of his runs.

Route kept a secret

The former Safari Rally winner, who is expected to fly back to Sweden later tonight, said "there were no further tests expected on other parts like the suspensions because of the nature of the rally, whose route is kept as a secret until the day of the competition.

"It would be difficult to know the nature of the terrain of the entire route."

"I only wish Surinder Thatthi can include part of the 2km stretch of the Ngong Hills in the competition because that is the longest test I could manage on the suspensions and I know it well," joked Waldegaard.

Thatthi is the Clerk of the Course for the KQ-sponsored marathon rally measuring over 4500kms and which is to be accomplished in 10 days of tough driving. Waldegaard said he is always happy to come to Kenya, where he holds lots of fond memories about the Safari Rally and the people of Kenya.

One of the most charismatic drivers in the World of Rallying, said it would be fitting to win this year's EA Safari Rally in a Ford Escort, exactly 30 years since it first helped him win his first Safari Rally in 1977.

The other three wins were secured in the Toyota models. Waldegarrd said the present Escort could prove to be a lot quicker car than the Porsche which he drove in his first Classic event in 2005.

He said the team had spent lots of money and time to get a car that could challenge for an outright victory. He said that his privately-entered Porsche in the 2005 was not very competitive though specialists like Richard Turthill of England can make it a winning a car.

Then Ford Team driver Gerard Marcy led the 2005 edition for most of the rally before his Escort was slowed down by electrical problems.

The Belgian, who is widely known as Paris-Dakar Rally contender, has since moved to Porsche for this year's KQ-sponsored contest.

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