On Thursday (19 April) Kenya's President Kenyatta flagged away the first of the cars entering the 3,000 mile East African Rally-reputedly the toughest in the world.
NAIROBI & ROUTE NEAR MOUNT KUKENYA, KENYA (APRIL 19, 1973) (REUTERS)
SV/CU Sign "21st E. African Safari"
CU & SV Kenyatta mounts rostrum (2 shots)
SV Car No. 1 Datsun drives on to ramp
SV Kenyatta starts car No. 2
SV Police controls crowd
SV Kenyatta starts car No. 4
SV Porsche car
Car 15 Datsun past camera
SV PAN Car No. 17 past camera
SV Kenyatta starts car No. 18
SV people on roadside
SV PAN Car No. I Datsun pest camera on dusty road
SV PAN Car No. 2 (Escort) skidding on dusty road
SV PAN Car No. 5 (Porsche) skidding
Car No. 8 on dusty road
SV Helicopter flies overhead
SV Car No. 9 (Datsun)
SV PAN Datsun No. 15 on dusty road
GV PAN Police and onlookers as car No. 20 drives past
Initials SGM/1550 BE/BOB/BB/2240
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Background: On Thursday (19 April) Kenya's President Kenyatta flagged away the first of the cars entering the 3,000 mile East African Rally-reputedly the toughest in the world.
First away was local Asian driver Shehkar Mehta in a works Datsun 240 Z. This was just one of the 5 Japanese Datsun's entered in this year's race - the 21st. to take place. The other 4 Datsun's are two 240z's and 2 1800S's. These cars are being driven by a mixture of local and overseas drivers.
Datsun, invincible in 1970 and 1971, are hoping to outrank the Ford's - winners of last year's team prize. There are 89 cars entered in this year's rally, which will take four days to complete. Many are expected to fall by the wayside. Last year only 19 cars finished the course out of a total of 85 starters. Road conditions this year are expected to be worse than in previous years. Rain storms have been forecast, which could lead to swamped and muddy reads. Overuses entrants fear that local drivers will have a better chance in such conditions.
The Ford team is made up of 5 specially-built Escort RS 1600S's.
As the cars headed away from Nairobi, several drivers appeared determined to snatch a vital, early lead. British hopes Roger Clark (in a Ford Escort) and Tony Hall, (in a Datsun) and Finns Hannu Mikkola and Timo Makinen, had all overtaken their nearest rivals by the time they were well outside Nairobi.
Average speed set by the rally organisers is 60 mph (100 kph).
The organisers refused to allow the Ford team to make use of a new type of tyre which would have given them an advantage in muddy conditions.
Third strangest contender in the rally is the team of German Porsche Carreras.
Roger Clark, in his Ford Escort, was one of several top drivers who managed to achieve leading positions.
Throughout the 3,000-mile race, the cars are required to keep up an average speed of 60-miles an hour. East African road conditions are expected to prove more difficult this year. Heavy rain is forecast for much of the area. This will lead to swamped and muddy road conditions.
Last year, only 19 cars finished the course, out of a total of 85 starters. Local drivers are favoured to do well if expected rainstorms cause poor driving conditions.