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  Home > Rallies > Safari
Open road rallying at its best
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Safari Rally was an event of such classic stature that only Monte Carlo can be safely said to be equal. First run in 1953 to honor the coronation of Queen Elisabeth II, it soon became known as endurance event par excellance apart from marathons like London-Sydney. From 5300 kilometers in 1973, route shrunk little by little almost yearly but Safari was in a class of it's own when it came to competitive distance.

Dubbed as "the worlds toughest rally", event was a test of man and machine. As is obvious from the selection of pictures on right, story of Safari cannot be described in simple terms or quickly. Weather played important part, no matter how it turned out. If it was wet, mud was everywhere and progress slowed down considerably. If it was dry, dust became a problem. It was not uncommon for a driver to complain that he had catched slower car but had been unable to pass, or even approach because of the dust.

Animals, both wild and domestic were a danger in the vast African plains. On open ground animals were easy to spot even without the helicopter support but in bushes the situation was different. Besides the nature, character of the roads, long distances and high speeds, Safari was unique because it was the last WRC rally to run on open roads. Admittedly traffic was scarce but meeting a matatu, full-laden and slow local bus, caused more than one accident.

As emphasis on World Rally Championship moved ever more towards performance, Safari remained an endurance event where restraint usually paid off. This approach was first discarded by Mitsubishi in 1996 when team had concluded during testing that by routinely changing all suspension components in every service, their car would last the distance even with 100% speed.

Times changed and world rallying with it. Move towards cloverleaf format with single service park and shorter overall distance did not suit well with the spirit of Safari and event was eventually dropped in favour of Turkey. Many fans and traditionalists were shocked but there was silent relief amongst teams. Safari was unique challenge but contesting it consumed by far more resources than any other rally, being great strain for the teams.

Previous winners
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 1973:   Mehta, Shekhar   Datsun 240Z    
 1974:   Singh, Joginder   Mitsubishi Colt Lancer    
 1975:   Andersson, Ove   Peugeot 504    
 1976:   Singh, Joginder   Mitsubishi Colt Lancer    
 1977:   Waldegard, Bjorn   Ford Escort RS1800    
 1978:   Nicolas, Jean-Pierre   Peugeot 504 V6 Coupe    
 1979:   Mehta, Shekhar   Datsun 160J   93.11 km/h 
 1980:   Mehta, Shekhar   Datsun 160J   91.57 km/h 
 1981:   Mehta, Shekhar   Datsun Violet   81.31 km/h 
 1982:   Mehta, Shekhar   Nissan Violet   90.01 km/h 
 1983:   Vatanen, Ari   Opel Ascona 400   88.13 km/h 
 1984:   Waldegard, Bjorn   Toyota Celica Twincam Turbo   101.85 km/h 
 1985:   Kankkunen, Juha   Toyota Celica Twincam Turbo   97.40 km/h 
 1986:   Waldegard, Bjorn   Toyota Celica Twincam Turbo   94.80 km/h 
 1987:   Mikkola, Hannu   Audi 200 quattro   92.72 km/h 
 1988:   Biasion, Massimo   Lancia Delta Integrale   89.45 km/h 
 1989:   Biasion, Massimo   Lancia Delta Integrale   93.12 km/h 
 1990:   Waldegard, Bjorn   Toyota Celica GT-4 (ST165)   87.67 km/h 
 1991:   Kankkunen, Juha   Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16v   90.89 km/h 
 1992:   Sainz, Carlos   Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD (ST185)   93.46 km/h 
 1993:   Kankkunen, Juha   Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD (ST185)   99.85 km/h 
 1994:   Duncan, Ian   Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD (ST185)   114.96 km/h 
 1996:   Makinen, Tommi   Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III   117.70 km/h 
 1997:   McRae, Colin   Subaru Impreza WRC97   114.78 km/h 
 1998:   Burns, Richard   Mitsubishi Carisma GT   118.70 km/h 
 1999:   McRae, Colin   Ford Focus WRC   116.16 km/h 
 2000:   Burns, Richard   Subaru Impreza WRC99   122.43 km/h 
 2001:   Makinen, Tommi   Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.5   120.29 km/h 
 2002:   McRae, Colin   Ford Focus RS WRC 02   117.38 km/h 
mud
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Wet weather meant mud. A lot of mud. Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
dust
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Dry weather meant dust. A lot of dust. Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
animals
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Animals were an ever-present danger. Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
helo
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Helicopters were used to warn the competitors of the many dangers. Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
open roads
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Believe it or not, 200 kph on open roads and through the villages! Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
beauty
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Despite all dangers and hardship, Safari was event of natural beauty. Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
Driver wins
  Mehta, Shekhar (5)
  Waldegard, Bjorn (4)
  Kankkunen, Juha (3)
  McRae, Colin (3)
  Biasion, Massimo (2)
  Burns, Richard (2)
  Makinen, Tommi (2)
  Singh, Joginder (2)
  Andersson, Ove (1)
  Duncan, Ian (1)
  Mikkola, Hannu (1)
  Nicolas, Jean-Pierre (1)
  Sainz, Carlos (1)
  Vatanen, Ari (1)
Manufacturer wins
  Toyota (7)
  Mitsubishi (5)
  Datsun (4)
  Ford (3)
  Lancia (3)
  Peugeot (2)
  Subaru (2)
  Audi (1)
  Nissan (1)
  Opel (1)
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