Swedes Bjorn Waldegaard and Hans Thorszelius clung to a narrow lead, as drivers neared the first gruelling leg of the 1979 East Africa Safari Motor Rally in Kenya, on Friday (13 April).
Swedes Bjorn Waldegaard and Hans Thorszelius clung to a narrow lead, as drivers neared the first gruelling leg of the 1979 East Africa Safari Motor Rally in Kenya, on Friday (13 April). Driving the West Germany Works Mercedes Benz 45OSLC, the Swedish team was hotly pursued by Finland's Timo Makinen and Jean Todt, of France, in the French Works Peugeot 504 Coupe.
SYNOPSIS: Kenya's President Daniel Arap Moi got the 3,125 mile (5,000 kilometres) rally underway on Thursday (12 April), when he lowered the starter flag on the first of 66 cars competing.
As the drivers set off from Nairobi, they prepared to face what has been described as the toughest rally route in the world. And by Friday (13 April), only 52 cars had survived the muddy road conditions through the highland areas leading to the western lakeside town of Kisum. Eleven private entries were forced to abandon the run because of the mud and another three were time-barred.
Mounted police were called in to control over-enthusiastic fans, at the start of the race.
The safari rally is a traditional battle ground for factory teams, with entries from Peugeot, Mercedes, Datson and Fiat. Peugeot suffered an early disappointment when Frenchman Jean Pierre Nicolas and Briton Henry Liddon were forced to retire with engine trouble. Peugeot was left with only three cars in the running, the minimum required to qualify for the manufactures' award.