The 2013 edition of the Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic Rally awaits some hair-raising thrills with two former world champions--Stig Blomqvist and Bjorn Waldegard--already signed up for the "world's toughest" man and machine affair.
Also lined up for the momentous biennial event is the 1994 WRC Safari Rally winner and six-time Kenyan champion, Ian Duncan. Duncan, who won the Safari Classic in 2009 in a Ford Mustang, returns to the picturesque East African terrain with his carroty Ford Capri.
This particular KQ Safari Classic is set to be a significant one for defending champion Waldegard, who hopes to rack up a record third Safari Classic title in the company of his son Matthias.
Mathias and Bjorn have won this event twice in 2007 and 2011. Waldegard is a former Swedish rally driver, and the winner of the inaugural World Rally Championship for drivers in 1979.
His Swedish nickname is "Walle". Blomqvist, on the other hand, won the World Rally Championship drivers' title in 1984 and finished runner-up in 1985. He won his home event, the Swedish Rally, seven times.
While Waldegard will be fighting to uphold more glory on East African soil, Blomqvist will be seeking to chalk up his maiden victory. The going hasn't been that rosy for Blomqvist here all along but the Swede is optimistic that "rally gods" will show considerable kindness to his fortunes this time round.
Another man expected to call the shots is Englishman John Lloyd, who has over the years developed some penchant for cruising on the taxing African terrain. He returns with Adrian Cavenagh in a Ford Escort RS2000 Mark 2.
Adrian is brother to two-time Kenyan champion Alastair Mark Cavenagh, who has entered a Ford Escort Mark 2 under the Dalbit Petroleum livery.
Like Blomqvist, Alastair has had to contend with a number of mechanical gremlins, dealing a blow to his ambition. With about 12 months to go, the event's secretariat at Nairobi's Riverside has received a total of 29 entries with Kenya's Classic Car Cup champion Aslam Khan also on board.
Event's clerk of the course Surinder Thatthi said the 'early bird' entries have surpassed expectations of organisers. "It's only a year to the event and entries are trickling in considerably well," quipped Surinder.
At the moment, the Porsche 911 model leads the list of cars with a total of 18 entrants while Ford Escort has 5 and Datsun 3. Clevrolette Corvette , Ford Capri and Mercedes have one entry each. So far 14 of the 29 entries are newcomers.
The all-Netherlands' Clevrolette Corvette crew of Michiel Campagne and Mike Van Thiel are set to make their debut at next year's edition and so is Argentine Jorge Perez Companc who is being entered by the Viking motorsport in a Ford Escort RS1800 Mark 2.