Datsun and The East African Safari Rally

So you think of Africa and you picture Lions, Zebras, and Elephants, vast Savannas and dusty Land Rover roads. You imagine searing sunshine, shield and spear wielding tribesmen, and burnt red earth. So what would make this the home of arguably the toughest rally in the world?

Read on and learn...

The East African Safari Rally is considered one of the most, if not the most, grueling auto race in the world. It was, and still is to some extent, the testing ground for reliability in production cars. Up to 90 percent of the cars entered in the race never finish.

The course itself has varied from year to year, averaging from 3100 to or 4000 miles in length, originally travelling though Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Since 1974, the rally has stayed within the borders of Kenya due to political unrest in the other countries. Nairobi is traditionally the start and finish point for the rally, as well as often being the midpoint where the rally's big loop stages meet.

So what makes this race so tough?

First there's the hazards of wildlife and farm animals on the course. Then there's the earth of Africa itself, which comes in every size and type, from a fine dust that clogs cars and blinds drivers in its huge clouds, to bowling ball sized boulders that punish both drivers and suspension components in equal measure. African roads are not for the squeamish.

But these things are found on every rally course, right?

True you can find some of these condition on some rally courses, but the Safari Rally has one thing that the other rallies really don't; Rain.

The race is held on the Easter long weekend which falls somewhere between the end of March and the middle of April. This also generally coincides with the beginning of the rainy season. When I say rain, I don't mean your average April shower, we're talking about river-swelling, road flooding, mud sliding Rain with a capital R. Rain and red African earth combine to form Mud. This is no mud puddle mud, this is a slicker than ice gumbo that sinks cars like quicksand in bad weather, and dries hard like stucco in the sun. You might as well put axle grease on your tires. Rain and mud have not only claimed the vast majority of cars lost in the Safari rally, but the lives of a few drivers and spectators as well. Rain is the wildcard in the Safari.

And you can't really prepare for it. Some years the course is dry allowing lots of teams to finish. Other years the course has been so badly flooded that stages have to be re-routed or cancelled outright and teams have slogged for hours over a section that should have taken minutes. Rallys are run on time, and if you fall too far behind, you're out of the race.

The Safari Rally started out in 1953 as the Coronation Rally, named in honor of Queen Elizabeth. Early competing makes included Volkswagen(beetle), Mercedes, Ford(zephyr), Opel, Austin, Peugeot, Tatra, Fiat, and Ford. Drivers originally started out at three different locations, and finished in Nairobi. This was soon scrapped in favor of a single route for all competitors.

The rally was renamed the East African Safari Rally in 1960 and kept that name until 1973 when it became the Safari Rally. Marlboro sponsored the event for a number of years in the 80's and their name was added to the title.

Nissans' participation in this rally goes back to 1963. They couldn't have picked a worse year to make a debut; the weather was horrendous. A factory team was entered with a pair of 311 Bluebird sedans, one of them co-driven by Wakabayashi and Jack Esnouf. Wakabayashi, known as "Waka" to friends and competitors, would go on to become the safari team manager for Nissan during its most successful years. 1963 became known as the year of "The Magnificent Seven", with only 7 cars out of 84 starters finishing the 3088 mile race that ran through torrential downpours and flooded sections of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika. Nick Nowicki ended up winning in his Peugeot 404, but anyone who made it to the finish line was touted as a winner and a hero that year. Neither team Datsun finished.

Despite the hellish conditions of the previous year, Nissan came back to the Safari in '64 with Cedrics. Entered in class D, a Cedric driven by John Jeeves and G Alexander came in 21st overall, second to last of the finishing cars, with last place being reserved for future Nissan works driver Joginder Singh and his Mercury Comet. Ford won the team prize that year with Hughes and Young coming first overall in their Cortina GT.

Although 20th might seem bad, just to finish the Safari was a triumph of driving and machinery for Nissan and its team. Lots of other manufacturers must've thought the same; the 1964 Safari was probably the best attended and supported up to that point, due to the benchmark of toughness set by the '63 Rally. If your car could finish the East African Safari Rally, then it was tough enough to do anything.

Joginder Singh would win the '65 Safari in spectacular style, taking a PV544 left behind by Volvo after the '64 race, and winning by 100 minutes on the road. Singh and his brother Jaswant bought the car from the local volvo dealer, rebuilt the car themselves, and entered it privately. With the help of lots of local amateur support, Singh and Singh beat the pants off all the works teams. The team prize would go to Peugeot with its team of 404's. 85 cars started, but only 16 finished, Nissan did not finish for the second time in 3 years.

The weather didn't cooperate in 1966 either, with mud and rain being the predominant course feature. Nissan pulled off a bit of an achievement, winning the B class for cars 1001-1300 cc's. A pair of Bluebird p411's driven by the teams of JL Greenly and JHP Dunk, and by Jock Aird and Robin Hillyar came in 5th and 6th overall and first and second in class. More importantly, both cars completed the course in a race that 88 cars entered and only 9 finished. The race saw another first as Tanzanians Bert Shankland and Chris Rothwell became the first non-Kenyans to win the Rally.

Shankland and Rothwell would win again in their Peugeot in a much drier 1967 Safari Rally. Datsun returned with a team of Cedric 2000's, a bulkier car that didn't perform nearly as well as the earlier Bluebirds. Aird and Hillyar finished 17th overall, followed by Mockridge and Jack Esnouf in 20th and the husband wife team of Jack and Lucille Cardwell in 21st. Not bad considering over half the 91 cars that started the race actually finished it. 1967 was also the first year in a Datsun for the man who would bring the Datsun team fame in a couple years: German driver Edgar Herrmann. Herrmann and co-driver Gerd Elvers lasted less than one stage before encountering severe mechanical difficulties.

The Cedrics were back for 68, with the team of Joginder Singh and Bev Smith placing 5th, and the girl power team of Mrs. Lucy Cardwell and Mrs. Gerry Davies coming in 7th and winning the Coupe des Dames. The fact that only 7 cars out of 93 finished the race (all class C cars) may put the results in a bit better light. Singh actually led the race until Himo, but got badly stuck in the mud. Being first cost him as all the other cars found a way around his mud hole to go on ahead. He still managed to cross the finish line in a year that saw another "Magnificent Seven" finishers.

Lucy Cardwell and Gerry Davies had quite an adventure on their rally. First they lost their timecard, only to have it returned just in time by a spectator. Then while running dead last, Lucy tried to charge through a muddy section that all the other cars had had to be towed through. She slid the Cedric off the road and sunk it in a swamp halfway up the doors, then had to wait 20 minutes as the Landrover that had pulled the other teams through in seconds, left to go refuel. Then the two women were almost disqualified in a bizarre incident at a checkpoint. They were still running dead last and far back at the time and were told by the Head Official at the Chilinzi time control that they were too late to continue. He refused to stamp their card so they could go on. No amount of pleading or crying would change the officials mind, so in desperation Gerry grabbed the stamp from the official, stamped her timecard and roared off in the car, the first offical "mugging" in rally history. Only later would the girls find out they'd made a brave choice as time limits had been extended due to road conditions. They would make it to Nairobi 20 hours behind schedule to a heroes welcome, becoming the lucky seventh members of 1968's Magnificent Seven.

The '69 rally was limited to Kenya and Uganda due to problems with the Tanzanian government. The race was lead most of the way by the battling teams of Soderstom and Palm in a Ford 20m who would break an axle near the end, and Preston and Garrish in a Cortina that would meet its maker in the form of a bridge abutment. This left lead drivers Robin Hillyar(Ford), and Joginder Singh(Volvo) to fight it out at the finish.

Hillyar won by a hair, or so it seemed. At the end of the race, Hillyars car was found to have much larger valves than specified, a breach of the rules. Ford protested claiming they'd registered the change with FIA thus making it a legal one. Singh waited to find out if he'd won the rally and Ford waited for a telex that would prove thier case. It came, but Ford wasn't off the hook yet. Those pesky valves were even larger than the size they'd specified in the change, making them slighly illigal. Singh lodged a protest, but later withdrew it when ford claimed the valves had stretched due to the wear and tear of the race, a pretty fishy arguement at best, but one Singh didn't have the patience to fight.

1969 was also the dawn of a new era at the rally for Nissan, the 510 era. Not only did the team of Jamil Din and Maksood Minhas finish 3rd overall, they lead a SSS510 contingent that swept 6 of the top 13 spots, and more importantly the top 6 spots in their class! Though he came in second in class to Din(and was beaten by former Nissan drivers Singh and Hillyar) the real story of the rally was the performance of Edgar Herrmann.

Herrmann was originally supposed to race for Porsche that year, but just before the rally was to start, the Porsche team withdrew from competition. Herrmann and co-driver Hans Schuller were left to fend for themselves. Fortunately for Herrmann he was still in good favor with the Datsun team. Thinking that Herrmann might keep his Porsche starting position of 3rd, the Datsun team agreed to let Herrmann and Schuller have one of their battered practice cars, a 510sss. The race officials declared Herrmann and his Datsun as a completely new entry and put him at the back of the pack in 90th place.

Knowing that they would have to eat dust for the entire race, Herrmann and Schuller took extremely detailed pace notes (the navigators guide to the course). They ripped through the competition, all the while driving basically blind in the dust, improving their position to 52 by the 6th control point, 32nd place by the 13th post, and an astounding 14th place by the halfway mark.

Din/Minhas and Herrmann/Schuller took the top two spots in Class D (1301-1600cc). the teams arrived at the finish 3rd and 4th on the road and 5th and 6th overall on points. The Manufacturers team prize went to Nissans second team of Randall/Parkinson, Greenly/Collinge, and Saunders/Peating after Nissan A team's third man Jack Simonian wrecked his 510 just 10 minutes into the first stage to Kampala, "A bank came out and hit me!" he joked.

Herrmann remarked that the 510-practice car had been unbelievably reliable: "we didn't have to lift a screwdriver". His performance guaranteed him a ride with Datsun in the following years rally.

The rally is full of colorful stories, and the 69 rally was no different. One driver failed to stop at a stop sign and was disqualified at the finish for it. Future Nissan team driver Rauno Aaltonen, a rally driver of much success had one of the worst and disturbingly funny rally experiences that year. He and co driver Henry Liddon crashed their Lancia near the start, shattering the windshield. The body was too twisted to fit a new one, so they then drove 1700 miles without one. By the time they finished the cars interior, and its two drivers, were caked in dead birds and insects.

The 1970 East African Safari Rally covered 3300 miles and crossed Kenya and Uganda, running at elevations from sea level to 10,000 feet. Herrmann and Schuller drew the number 4 spot for their 510SSS. Joginder Singh and Bharat Bhardwaj, and Din and Mughal drove the other two Datsun team 510's. A total of 28 Datsuns, mostly 510's, entered the race.

The rally started in Kampala, Uganda and finished back there 5 days later. It was raining right off the start. 16 cars burst into an earl lead pack, including 4 Datsun 510's, 3 Fords, 4 Peugeots and just about one of everything else.
Aaltonen lead early on in a Ford, Jack Simonian second in a 510, and then Zasada in another Porsche. Shekhar Mehta was there too, but the used Datsun 510 he'd bought from dealer Simonian blew on the first day. His driving did attract the attention of Nissan, garnering him a ride in 1971 after Joginder Singh left the Works team.

Herrmann and Schuller's run across western Kenya was pretty uneventful, but things took an ugly twist as the cars climbed the 4000foot Chesoi escarpment. Their 510 lost traction in the mud on the steep slippery slopes and had to crawl up the hills as other cars past them. By the time they made it to the first rest stop they were way out of the top 10. Herrmann and Schuller figured they'd blown the rally.

Jack Simonian was even unluckier. After holding down second place for quite a while, he hit a slick patch of mud at 100 mph and slammed his 510 into a bridge parapet, then plunged 20 feet into a gully. He managed to get the car out, fix it a bit, and continue, but at a much slower pace.

Controversy struck as the Lancia team of Sandro Munari and Lofty Drews, the leaders at the time, were disqualified for leaving a checkpoint 30 minutes early. News also reached teams that a driver had been swept to his death in a raging torrent while trying to cross a flood swollen Tiva river.

The rally looped back into Kampala before heading out for the second half of the race. The Nissan team fitted its cars with tire chains for the next difficult stage, a very wise move. Munari continued to lead the race, even though his status was questionable. Tragedy hit however, when his Lancia crashed and rolled about 150 miles out of Kampala. Simonian's 510 lost oil and blew an engine. The Safari was beginning to eat cars in typical fashion.

By the end of that stage Herrmann and Schuller were back up to second place, with only the Porsche of Polish driver Sobieslav Zasada ahead of them. The Porsche started to pull away from the little Datsun, but as this rally does time and time again, it took its toll on the faster car. The Porsche developed a serious oil leak and dropped out of the race just after crossing back into Uganda.

As other cars behind them fell out, Herrmann and Schuller drove to victory in Kampala 51 minutes ahead of Singh and Bhardwaj in their 510. Din and Mughal took 4 th with Shankland and Rothwell's Peugeot filling in the third spot. Mike Kirkland in his privately entered 510 came in 7 th in his first Safari attempt.

Once again the 70 rally has those stories that only rallying can provide, like the tale of Dick Barbour and Mike Doughty. They crashed their totally rally prepped Peugeot 504 the day before the event, then walked into the local Peugeot dealer and bought the one off the showroom floor, painted a number on the side and entered it in the race without further modification.

It should be noted that the 510 not only took overall victory in 1970, it also took class victory and manufacturers victory. To demonstrate just how tough this course is, of the 91 cars entered in 1970 - only 19 finished. Of that number 4 of the top 7 cars were 510's, with 6 Bluebirds finishing in total.

Herrmann and Schuller would repeat the feat in a 240z in 1971. Herrmann and Schuller started in 11 th spot, with teammates Shekhar Mehta and Mike Doughty, and Rauno Aaltonen and Pieter Easter also starting in good spots. 38 Datsuns were entered in the event, mostly 510's.

The race is once again divided into two halves, both meeting like a Dali'esque figure 8 in Nairobi where the race begins and finishes. The first leg heads towards the Kenyan coast city of Mombasa.

Aaltonen charged forward in the early running taking the lead as Herrmann ate dust on the first stage to Mombasa. Waldegaard kept close behind Aaltonen in his Porsche. Jack Simonian held on to his 240z steering wheel for dear life as a tire came apart at 130 Mph, knocking him out of the race.

The race turned south into Tanzania for the first time in a few years, political problems keeping that traditional rally country off the course in previous events. Herrmann crawled up to 4 th place by Dar Es Salaam, while Aaltonen broke a suspension piece and let the lead slip to Porsche racer Bjorn Waldegaard, who had started way back in 33 spot. Then to make matters worse, the Datsun team left the gas cap off Aaltonens car and he lost all his fuel.

Herrmann was passed early in the next section by Waldegaard(Waaldegard was already ahead on time, but Herrmann left the stage start point first) , then worked hard to catch up to him on the road back to Nairobi. Herrmann driving the Z at a steady 130MPH managed to pass Blomquist to take 3 rd spot, while Porsche driver Zasada moved up to second, then into first as the teams arrived back in Nairobi.

On the way to Kampala fortune smiled on Herrmann, and gave Waldegaard a taste of the infamous "Safari luck". First Herrmann was almost penalized by a race marshal's error, but after much argument the situation was solved by none other than infamous dictator Idi Amin, then president of Uganda who happened o be watching the race at that checkpoint. Amin flagged Herrmann back onto the road without penalty.

Waldegaard wrecked his Porsche while trying to pass his own teammate Zasada who was ahead on the road but behind on time. Zasada didn't have his radio on, and Waldegaard assumed Zasada had heard his request to be let through. The Porsches crashed badly. After this, Herrmann and Schuller and a 31 minute time lead over the next car, the 240Z of Shekhar Mehta who was actually ahead on the road at this point.

Aaltonen had fallen back, but had not given up. He charged forward again, passing Hermann on the road near Kabale. Then things got worse for Herrmann and Schuller. Herrmann crashed the car after Mehta passed them, breaking a halfshaft on their car. Fortunately Schuller was able to remove it, and thanks to the miracle of limited slip differentials was able to continue on to the next service point. Aaltonen in the other Z broke a halfshaft and fell far back.

Hermann and Schuller still led time wise, but now by only 16 minutes. Now it was Mehta's turn to shine. Driving in his home country of Uganda, Mehta raced ahead to take Herrmann's lead down to just one minute overall. Then Mehta took a very small lead after Herrmann crashed heavily, sending his 240z well off the road. It looked if Mehta would go on to win.

Then disaster struck in only a way that the Safari could manage.

Mehta got his 240z stuck in a mud hole near Mount Kenya. 20 minutes later a police Landrover happened along to pull them out. Just as the Landrover unhooked Mehta's car, Herrmann ran into the same hole and got stuck. The Landrover still had the rope hooked up and pulled Herrmann through with almost no lost time. Mehta was furious. As the 240z's finally came to a rest in Nairobi, Mehta and Doughty had lost to Herrmann and Schuller by just 3 minutes on the road, more than 6 times the amount of time they lost in the Landrover incident.

It was a fantastic finish for Nissan, if not for Mehta. 240z's finished first, second, and seventh, with privately entered 510's finishing in 6 of 32 spots. Datsun once again took Class, Overall, and Manufacturers titles.

Mike Kirkland, future works driver, had one of the funniest 1971 rally moments happen to him, or more specifically to his Sicilian co-driver Paulo Coniglio. Mike drove fast, Paulo drove cautiously. Mike was going full boar through a section of Tanzania when the shit hit the fan. Paulo had the passenger side window rolled down as Mike careened through a group of cattle that were standing on the road. The passenger fender of the 510 clipped the ass end of one of the cows, which promptly exploded sending a shower of cow crap along the side of the car, and directly through the window into Paulo's face. Paulo, a bit of a neat freak, commented later, "We hit zis-a bloody cow. Now my car is smelling of sheet!". Despite hitting the cow, Kirkland still managed to bring the 510 in 17 th .

The 72 rally saw disaster for Herrmann and Schuller, as their 240z broke 2 halfshafts and finished the race in 5th place, followed by the other 240z team of Aaltonen and Brit Tony Fall, and Mehta in 10th.

40 of 86 entries in the race were Datsuns. The Works team consisted of Herrmann and Schuller, Mehta and Doughty, Aaltonen and Tony Fall, and in the 610(1800) Ove Anderson and John Davenport.

The race started in the Tanzanian capital of Dar Es Salaam this year, then headed inland towards Nairobi. Herrmann lead the race early as the cars approached Mount Kilimanjaro, then lead all the way into Nairobi, followed by Mikkola, the Junior Preston, Zasada, and Mehta in 4th. Aaltonen was still in the hunt in 6 th .

On the next stage to Kampala, Herrmann's lead slipped as Mikkola, Zasada, and Preston Junior passed him on time. He fell into 4 th , with Mehta in 5 th and Aaltonen 7 th . The dust was unbearable, and downright dangerous; passing anybody was a huge risk.

All the team Datsuns began having fuel problems somewhere in central Kenya, and began to fall further back. Mehta's Z broke a steering arm and fell way back on the way into Nairobi for the second time.

On the way out of Nairobi Herrmann managed to get up to 3 rd after passing Preston on route to Mombasa before breaking his rear suspension. Aaltonen missed a checkpoint and had to go back, losing a half hour in the process.

Mike Kirkland was far back but still going strong in 13 th spot when he swerved to avoid a car parked on the road and rolled the 510, crushing one of Coniglios' fingers in the process.

Rookie Driver Anderson and teammate Davenport had finished against all odds. They'd had endless flat tires, had broken the suspension, run out of gas twice, had electrical failure, and had finally blown a head gasket. The limped home in 12 th .

Another notable finish was that of Ann Taith and Sylvia King, driving a Candy Datsun sponsored 510. They finished 18 th , but were the first ladies team to complete the race since Cardwell and Davies did it in '68 in a Cedric.

Mikkola won the 1972 Safari, with Zasada coming second, and Vic Preston Junior 3 rd . Exactly half of the cars that finished the 72 rally were Datsuns, pretty good considering that 85 cars started and only 18 finished.

1973 was a return to victory for the 240Z, But not for Herrmann. Shekhar Mehta and his teammate "Lofty" Drews took first place overall and first in class in a dead heat win with Harry Kallstrom and Claes Billstam, who took first in class and second overall in a Bluebird 1800SSS. Fall and Wood finished 4th in their 510.
A total of 7 510's finished, most in the top 12 spots.

The rally took a different course again that year due to political problems, but this time with Uganda and Idi Amin. Amin had actually ordered the expulsion of Mehta's family the year before. The race started and finished in Nairobi once again.

The Datsun team lined up as Herrmann and Schuller, Mehta and Lofty Drews, Aaltonen and Easter all in 240z's, with Harry Kallstrom and Claes Billstam, and Tony Fall and Mike Wood taking a pair of 610sss's(1800) out for a 5000 kilometer spin.

Also of interest in the field were a rotary Mazda, and Joginder Singh in a hand built Mitsubishi Colt Gallant. Jack Simonian had switched to an Alfa GTV. A race official started quite laugh with the mechanics on hand when he asked if the Mazda's "head" could be removed so he could inspect the "valves".

The race started at 4 p.m. local time in Nairobi, with dry skies for the moment. Everyone headed off in the direction of the Usambara Mountains and Mombasa. Herrmann and Schuller went out early with mechanical problems. This was Herrmann's last rally for Nissan.

Roger Clark took a strong lead early on in a Ford, doing so until the return to Nairobi. Mehta didn't have it so easy. He and Lofty ran out of gas, then hit a flock of birds that took out most of their night driving lights. At the halfway stop in Nairobi the standings were Clark, Mikkola, Zasada, Kallstrom and Billstam in the 610sss, then Mehta and Aaltonen tied for fifth.

Clark, over an hour in the lead, had to stop and repair a steering problem early in the second half and had to take things cautiously, losing 40 minutes of his of his lead to the other cars.

In contrast Mikkola didn't take it easy, allegedly driving his Ford Escort into the back of Zasada's Porsche causing him to roll. The rest of the Porsche team retired due to mechanical problems. Timo Makinen rolled his Escort, followed by Bert Shankland who then rolled his Peugeot. The lead order went Mikkola, followed by Aaltonen, Kallstrom, then Mehta, and Anderson in a Peugeot.

Disaster struck Aaltonen as he came over the Meru Embu section of the course. He hit a muddy off camber corner and rolled the 240z over an embankment. Mehta hit the same bank and tore off an fender, but managed to keep going. He then passed Mikkola who had broken his steering. Kallstrom was now in the lead, with Mehta hot on his heels. Mehta caught up to Kallstrom and took a one minute lead by the finish. It was the closest Safari in history.

Both teams ended up with 406 minutes lost(points). Actually Mehta only had 405, but had been penalized a minute for having a missing headlight. It was a Dead Heat tie!

Ties are broken by a system known as "farthest-cleanest", sort of the rallying equivalent of a hockey shoot out. The officials look at each teams race results from the starting line of the rally until they find a point were one team was penalized more that the other. Mehta was 2 minutes faster than Kallstrom on the first stage, and was awarded the Safari win as a result. Andersson came in 3 rd in his Peugeot, with Tony Fall and Mike Wood finishing 4 th in the second 610sss.

Several years later Shekhar Mehta would win 4 consecutive Safari Rally's in Datsun 510 violet SSS's(A10 or PA10) including one of these years when Datsuns would sweep the podium.

Once again, it would be up to Mike Kirkland to add color to the Safari Rally. Mike had finally been able to afford his own 510 to race, free of the jinxed Paulo Coniglio. He teamed up with Bruce Field for a more competitive drive. They were just out of the top ten at the beginning of the second stage when they stopped to refuel. Bruce got out to make sure the fueling was done right. The private fuel team was using 5 gallon cans to do the refueling, a somewhat dangerous idea because of vapors. Someone in the crowd had a cigarette, which then ignited the gas fumes, giving Bruce nasty burns to his legs and catching the car on fire. Mike frantically drove the car away from the fuel dump probably saving lives in the process, then he and Bruce put the 510 fire out. With burnt paint and burnt legs, they continued on to finish the rally ninth overall.

Nissan figured it had proven its point and did not enter an official works team for the 1974 Safari rally. This didn't stop Privateers from entering Datsuns. The 510 had become the car of choice for private rallyers due to its relatively low cost, it's durability, and it's proven ability to win, however none would finish the '74 race.

Rauno Aaltonen took on a new partner in German W. Stiller and entered a 610sss(180b) as a private entry for 74. Harry Kallstrom and Co-driver Claes Billstam did the same, but in a 260z. Both cars had more power than the 510, and similar suspension set ups. Another finishing team included locals Zully Remtulla and Nizar Jivani in a 260z. Rosemary Smith and Pauline Gullick in another 610sss(1800 Bluebird) would go on to win the Coupe des Dames(the ladies championship) in the 16 th and final spot. It would be the second and last Dames title handed out in the 70's.

The 1974 rally started as a very punishing a race up a slippery slope. This was the first year the rally was run entirely inside Kenya, the norm from then on. On the first leg up to mount Kenya 70 cars left the race, knocked out due to unrelenting mud and unmerciful East African rain. Things improved weather wise as the race went on, but after the first stage the cars and drivers were in pretty rough shape. Kallstrom and Billstam would go onto place 4th overall in their 260z, with Remtulla and Jivani in 5 th . Aaltonen and Stiller managed to work up into 6th in their 610sss(180b). Rosemary Smith and Pauline Gullick were the only other Datsun finishers.

Nissan brought Works teams back for 1975, but without Mehta or Aaltonen. It would be another hellish year on the Safari trail, with only 14 cars finishing out of the 79 starters. Nissan's best posting was a 6 th by locals Remtulla and Jivani in a 710 Violet. Datsuns also finished 7 th , 9 th , and 14 th .

1976 was equally as dismal for Nissan, with Harry Kallstrom finishing in 7 th and Remtulla finishing in 8 th , both driving 710 Violets. Two other Nissan pairs were among the 17 finishers. Shekhar Mehta partnered with Mike Doughty and was doing well, but hit a land rover and went out with related damage. Former Nissan driver Joginder Singh lead a team of Mitsubishi Lancers that swept the podium.

1977 saw Aaltonen and Drews finish second overall and first in class in a Datsun 710 Violet, with a 510 finishing 12th overall. Nissan began a slow climb out of the Safari muck, with Remtulla and Jivani in 8 th , Rob Collinge and A. Levitan in 9 th , and second time Japanese entrants Yoshio Iwashita and Kenjiro Shinozuka in 11 th . J. Hellier and K. Shah brought up the rear of the 12 finishers in a good old 510sss. Shekhar Mehta and Mike Doughty continued their unlucky streak, this time retiring due to electrical failure.

Nissan Works teams switched to the New PA10 Violet for 1978(the Hl510 in the US). Mehta and Doughty made it three retirements in as many years by going out about three quarters of the way through the course with a blown engine. He wasn't the only driver to have bad luck.

Rain became a huge factor early on, with deep slick muddy sections, then vast flooded stages, some of which would require the rally to be rerouted.
Early in the race a young Kenyan drivers car lost control in the mud just outside of Nairobi, killing 4 spectators. Joginder Singh sunk his Mercedes in a 3 foot deep watery section after a huge cloudburst on the second night. His three Mercedes teammates did the same thing later at Marigat.

Bjorn Waldegaard and his Porsche were in the lead, with Vic Preston Jr. following in a second team Porsche. Then Preston hit a submerged rock and severely damaged his suspension, letting the Datsun Violets of Aaltonen and Lofty Drews, Kallstrom, and Mehta get passed him.

The next day a Mercedes would sink in another flooded section, it to take in water and seize its engine, Joginder Singh would go into the water for the second time and blow his engine as well.

By Saturday morning only 42 cars were remaining in the race as it left towards Mombasa. The order was Waldegaard, Aaltonen, Kallsrom, then Makinen in a Peugeot. On the road through the Taita Hills, several major teams went out with suspension damage due to the rough terrain, including Waldegaard who was in the lead.

Aaltonen and Kallstrom were now first and second, with Vic Preston in his Porsche in 3 rd . Things turned bad quickly for the Datsun teams as Aaltonen lost time in the mud, and Mehta's Datsun blew its engine putting him out of the Safari for the 4th time in a row. Kallstom would go out the next morning with a broken axle near Embu, Makinen and his Peugeot also left the race with a broken drive shaft.

Jean-Pierre Nicolas was now in the lead the final stages in his Peugeot, with the mud delayed Aaltonen hot on his heals. A little too hot it would seem as Aaltonen rolled his Violet down an embankment, allowing Vic Preston to move into second spot. This is how the cars would finish, with Aaltonen patching his car up with borrowed parts in a desperate rush to 3 rd .

Africa had once again thrown everything possible at the drivers, cutting the 73 car field down to a mere 13 at the finish line. Datsun teams also managed to finish in 7 th and 9 th , quite respectable considering no Manufacturers prize could be awarded due to the heavy loss of vehicles.

Then came the Mehta years...

The Shekhar Mehta Dynasty

Shekhar Mehta is arguably, the most successful driver in the history of the East African Safari Rally. In his 20 years of Safari rallying, Shekhar has 5 overall victories, one second place, and has finished the rally on five other occasions. Joginder Singh and Bjorn Waldegaard have had more top ten finishes, but no one has ever topped the five outright wins of Mehta.

Shekhar is a Ugandan of Indian descent. He was born Chandrashekhar Mehta on June 20th, 1945 in Kampala, Uganda's capital city. He spent his early years on his family's tea and sugar plantations, then was shipped off to Europe for schooling. He returned to Uganda to work in the family business in 1965.

Shekhar started his rally career in a BMW 1800 at the Nile Rally. He won his second rally entered, but this time he was driving a Renault. He took on track racing, starting with a BMW 2002tii. Track racing was actually his first love, not rallying. His first Safari Rally entry was in the 1968, but he failed to finish the first stage due to the horrendous weather conditions of that year. He managed to place 27th in his second Safari, lagging due to incredibly unreliable wheels on his Peugeot.

Shekhar was all set to give up rallying and concentrate on track racing when fate intervened. He went to a hillclimb event in Tanzania, and there he met a friend of his who had just bought a rally prepped Datsun 1600sss(510). Shekhar went along for a spin as a co pilot and fell in love with the car.

He bought a well-worn 1600sss from Jack Simonian and entered it in the 1970 Safari, but the engine blew and he retired from the event. Shekhar then spent the rest of a very successful rally year touring Africa and entering rallies in his 1600sss with the help of his girlfriend Yvonne and new Co-Driver Mike Doughty. He even went to Britain and entered the RAC Rally, but failed to finish.

Shekhar got his big break thanks to Joginder Singh. Joginder was supposed to drive for Datsun in 1971 in a new 240z, but went with Ford at the last minute. Datsun had watched Shekhar develop over the last year and decided to give him a shot in Joginder's car.

I've already told the story of the 1971 Safari Rally here, but not from Shekhar's perspective. Shekhar was in the top ten for most of the race, and gradually worked his way up to 3rd behind Herrmann and Aaltonen in the other Z's. Aaltonen then dropped back with suspension problems, and Shekhar caught and overtook Herrmann on time points. Shekhar should've won the rally, but "Safari Luck" intervened again with the infamous Mud –Land Rover story.

Shekhar would go on to rally for Datsun all over Africa, with appearances in European and Asian rallies for the next few years, as well as steady appearances in the Safari Rally. He and his family were forced to leave Uganda in 1972 by the Government of Idi Amin, so they set up house and business in Nairobi, Kenya.

He won the 1973 Safari Rally in a Datsun 240z in a dead heat with Harry Kallstrom. The win garnered him international respect and he was invited to rally all over the world that year.

Despite his success with Nissan, Shekhar and co-driver Mike Doughty switched to a Lancia for the 1974 and 1975 Safari's, but failed to finish both times. He switched back to Nissan and its new Violet for 1976, 1977, and 1978, but failed to finish due to a variety of problems. He and new wife Yvonne had placed 3rd in the Acropolis Rally in 1978. By 1979, Shekhar Mehtas Safari career was on the bubble. He had failed to finish in his last 5 straight Safari attempts. Nissan gave him a Violet 160j(HL510/A10) for the race, but told him that he had to perform better or he was gone.
He performed better than anyone could've imagined.

The 1979 Safari Rally

The major players for the 1979 event were Mercedes and their team of 450SLC coupes, with driver Bjorn Waldegaard taking the point. Then came the Peugeots lead by Timo Makinen, and the Fiats with Munari as their strongest driver.

In past rallies the Datsun tactic had been to have the local drivers take it easy on their cars for the first half of the race, and let the foreign drivers beat their cars into the ground. The rally was a race of durability as much as a race of driving skill. Shekhar Mehta wanted to change this for the 1979 rally. He demanded that the Nissan team let him go all out from the start.

He and Mike Doughty put the pedal to the metal right from the get-go. They had stripped the car of most of its spare parts and tools, praying that the car would be dependable, and that they wouldn't get it stuck anywhere. It paid off big time.

By the second leg, Mehta and Doughty were in a pack at the front with just Makinen, Waldegaard, and Munari. He and Waldegaard dueled it out for a while before Waldegaard pulled ahead in the more powerful Mercedes. Mehta's car suffered some suspension damage and dropped back even further.
The third leg saw the traditional Safari mud slowing down leaders Mikkola and Waldegaard, both in Mercedes. Mehta and Doughty kept within range. Then both Mercedes fell back with mechanical difficulties, Waldegaard with a blown rear axle and Mikkola with a hole in his radiator, allowing Mehta and Doughty to win by 48 minutes.

Shekhar had his second Safari rally victory and at the same time had proven that the Datsun Violet could run as a hard as the big boys and still be dependable. He had also saved face with Nissan.

Nissan won the Manufacturers team prize in 1979, with Rauno Aaltonen and Lofty Drews finishing 5th, Mike Kirkland and Dave Hawworth in 7th in an older Works 710( Mike was driving officially for Nissan for the first time), and Harry Kallstrom and Claes Billstam placing 9th. Hellier and K Shah brought an older 710 in in 13th spot, while Japanese stars Iwashita and Nakahara slid in 2 spots back in 15th in their PA10 Violet. Six finishers in the top 15 was a good sign of things to come for Nissan, and for all the drivers mentioned.

The 1980 Safari Rally

Mercedes had been badly embarrassed by their performance in the 1979 Safari and were out for blood in the '80 event. They'd enter a team of 5 450SLC's, and had worked out the service and support problems that had cost them the last Safari. Bjorn Waldegaard was back for a little vengeance, with an all star team of Vic Preston Jr., Joginder Singh, Hanna Mikkola, and Andrew Cowan backing him up.

Nissan was on top with their performance at the last rally, but were by no means resting on their laurels. Nissan had decided to up the ante by racing their new twin cam 16 valve engine in class 2, instead of the stock L20b that the older Violets had. At the last minute Rally officials told them the new engine wasn't legal yet, so they had to switch back to the old engines, dropping them back to class 4. Leading the pack for Nissan was Shekhar Mehta and Mike Doughty, then Rauno Aaltonen and Lofty Drews, and Mike Kirkland and Dave Haworth.

Opel was the other team that wanted to make a good show at the rally, and had entered a team of Ascona 400's, with star driver Jean-Pierre Nicholas and co-driver Harry Liddon leading their charge, and Klient and Wagner as their seconds.

The 1980 rally was the hottest driest event on record, presumably giving the advantage to Mercedes. Dust would be a factor in this event, giving the advantage to the lead teams that didn't have to spend as much time driving in it. The Mercedes struggled in the mud in past races with their higher horsepower engines, but could fly in the dry conditions. The Datsun Violets were better in the mud, and had proven to be more reliable, but in the dry conditions wear and tear shouldn't have been such a factor. Or so it seemed.

The first 28 hour section ran from Nairobi to Kisumu, then on overnight to Eldoret for the mandatory breakfast stop, then down through Nakuro and back into Nairobi for the rest period. Mercedes as predicted were ahead on the first stage with driver Andrew Cowan, but only just as Shekhar drove his Violet like a madman and challenged the bigger Mercedes all the way. Mehta then lead for a while as the Mercedes and Opels fell behind with flat tires. Harry Kallstrom took advantage of the situation by driving in faster dust free conditions and taking the lead on and off.

Mercedes effort was starting to show signs of breaking, quite literally. Hannu Mikkola broke a caliper and fell back; Joginder Singh rolled his Mercedes early on and was pretty much out of contention.

At Eldoret the standings were stacked like a sandwich with Nissan then Mercedes taking alternating placings: Mehta-Datsun, Waldegaard-Mercedes, Kallstrom-Datsun, Cowan- Mercedes, Aaltonen-Datsun, and Preston-Mercedes.

Mehta lead on the way back into Nairobi, but stopped to change a bent wheel and let Waldegaard and Kallstrom go ahead of him on the road, if not yet on time. Mehta got a turn at eating dust now all the way back to Nairobi.
Waldegaard's Mercedes arrived at the midpoint in Nairobi a minute ahead of Mehta on points. Waldegaard went out front on the second leg, increasing his lead over second place Mehta.
But Mercedes reliability started to falter, as did their luck. Hannu Mikkola went down with axle failure and, while doing the repairs, Mikkolas' co-driver was hit by another car, sending him to the hospital. Then later in the stage Waldegaard crashed and let Mehta take the lead again. Waldegaard's Mercedes started overheating and soon fell further back. Opel was pretty much out of contention by this point, with constant punctures and various mechanical failures. Jean-Pierre Nicholas made a valiant run to keep up with the pack.

With Mercedes starting to fall back, it looked as if Mehta would have a nice dust free drive to his second straight Safari title, with Kallstrom in second. But the Safari threw its next set of curve balls at Nissan. First Mehtas car suffered a pair of punctures, allowing Andrew Cowan to take his Mercedes into the lead. Then Harry Kallstrom's Violet snapped a valve, ending his rally.

The end of stage 2 saw Cowan leading by a minute, with Mehta second, Aaltonen back over 20 minutes in 3rd, Waldegaard a minute behind him in 4th and Preston and Kirkland in 5th and 6th respectively.

It looked as though Mercedes and Nissan would duel it out to the end. No so. First Waldegaard's Mercedes went out with the same axle failure as Mikkola had suffered earlier, then Cowan in the lead suffered the same fate. Vic Preston was all Mercedes had left, and he was far back. Preston made a dash towards the front, but couldn't catch the two leading Datsuns.

As the race came to an end and Mehta drove on problem free to victory, Aaltonen damaged his steering and limped into Nairobi 30 minutes back in second. Preston saved a little face for Mercedes coming in third. Mike Kirkland and Dave Haworth had their best finish to date bring in their Violet in 4th. Nissan had two more top ten finishers, with Yoshio Iwashita and Yoshimasa Nakahana of Japan bringing their privately entered Silvia S100 in 7th and John Hellier and co-Driver Chris Bates finishing in 9th, just ahead of Waldegaard.

Nissan and its drivers had proven that not only were the Violets reliable, but they could run as fast as almost anybody could; the horsepower advantage of Mercedes had effectively been nullified. Nissan had won the team prize again, and had had 11 of the 24 finishes in the race including the newer Silvia, the PA10 violets, the older 710's, and even a 120y coupe.

The 1981 Marlboro Safari Rally

So how could Shekhar Mehta and Mike Doughty top two consecutive Safari wins? By trying for the Hat Trick. It would turn out to be the longest victory in the history of the rally, taking months after the race to resolve, with much bad blood between old friends.

Nissan had finally got its twin cam engine on the books as a legal entry, calling the car the Violet GT to distinguish it from the standard 160J/PA10. Shekhar and Mike Doughty were once again the lead team with Nissan, then Rauno Aaltonen and Lofty Drews also in a Violet GT, and Mike Kirkland and Haworth in the standard 160j. Timo Salonen was also driving for Nissan, but in a different car, the 200sx or Silvia. Nissan also entered a turbocharged Bluebird, but the car went out on the stage to Mombasa.

Mercedes had had enough and left Peugeot with the 504 and Opel with the Ascona to mount the competition against the seemingly unstoppable Datsuns. Dodge showed up as well with a set of Ramcharger trucks, the first American entry in 17 years.

The dust was gone, but the rain was back and it was doing its best to make up for the previous year's absence. The first section from Nairobi over the Mau escarpment was rerouted due to flooding, and the cars cruised on pavement almost all the way to Kisumu near Lake Victoria. With all the time allowed for the stage saved by driving the direct route, some drivers, including Aaltonen, had time to stop for a nice lunch at the Rift Valley Country Club. Of course even on the pavement the hazards of rallying couldn't be avoided as 30 car received speeding tickets from Kenyan police officers, a new wrinkle in the sport. One team actually went out of the running on the pavement, the first Dodge team left with major transmission problems after only a short time on the road (God only knows how long they would've lasted on the dirt- always thought Ramchargers were junk).

The next morning the drivers were faced with a safari challenge that seemed almost insurmountable. In the span of just 24 hours, the equivalent of ten years worth of rain had fallen in the Cherangani Hills section of the course. Safari newcomer Anders Kullang took his Opel Ascona through the section with ease to take an eleven minute lead over the rest of the field.

Others weren't so lucky. Timo Salonen in the Silvia and Guy Frequelin in the 504, in second and third that morning, both started to fall back. Jochi Klient, another Opel works driver, dropped over an hour behind with steering failure. Makinen and Frequelin both had problems on the second day with clutches in their Peugeots, due to the low gear pace of the race. The next two Ramchargers dropped well back with suspension and electrical problems. The roads developed deep ruts due to the hard pace of the race, causing many a car to go out with punctures.

All this mud and rain went in Nissan's favor. By the end of the first leg Datsuns sat with Timo Salonen in second in the 200sx Silvia, Mehta and Doughty in 3rd, and Aaltonen and Drews in 4th. Anders Kullang kept his lead going in the Opel. Every team suffered from a plague of punctures due to the boulders that were being chewed up in the mud.

Mehta was third as the cars arrived back in Nairobi for the middle rest period. He next morning saw no let up to the rain and another 50 mile section was cancelled on the route to Mombasa due to heavy flooding. The conditions didn't help the Peugeot teams of Makinen and Frequelin, as both teams had to retire after burning out their clutches. Datsun and Opel teams fought it out on the way to Mombasa and down the coast.

The next morning the teams were greeted with a bit of a reprieve as conditions grew drier and sunny. Timo Salonen charged ahead of Kullang's Opel, only to crash his Silvia into a Land Rover. The Datsuns tough dependable nature began to fall into question as Mehta burnt a starter and Aaltonen's car began to come apart at the seams. By the time the cars left Mombasa on Easter Saturday afternoon, only 39 remained, with 1500 miles to go. Kullang was still in the lead with his Opel with Mehta neck and neck behind him.

Then "Safari Luck" struck another blow as Kullang, the leader for most of the race, toasted a cow with his Opel. He still lead, but not for long as he put his Opel in a ditch a short time later. The Peugeot teams weren't having much luck either with clutch failures impending on Ambrosino's and Lefebvre's cars. The Datsuns were all that was really left of the leaders, and were now running 1 through 4 on time and on the road into Nairobi for the end of stage 2 .

The final leg saw Mehta lead Salonen and Aaltonen out of Nairobi in a rally that was now down to just 28 cars. Salonen wanted to win and Aaltonen wanted it even more, so they and Mehta ignored Nissan team orders to take it easy through the night and conserve the cars.
Around midnight all of the teams ran into a new delay. A section of the road had become submerged under 5 feet of water due to the unstoppable rain. The cars were hauled through with big trucks, but one of the Peugeots got stuck and was nearly swept away.

Flood damage to Mehtas car allowed Aaltonen to take the lead near Baringo despite team orders not to do so, but Mehta soon caught up and the two went at it no holds barred. Aaltonen was tired of being second and he wanted to win. Mehta was so mad that Aaltonen had ignored team orders that he actually rammed Aaltonen's car. Aaltonen returned the favor, putting a large dent in Mehta's Violet. Mehta lead by seconds at the final check point at Nyeri when Nissan team manager "Waka" told them to stop the nonsense. He told Aaltonen that Mehta was in the lead and that things were going to stay that way to the finish line. Aaltonen, a fierce competitor, was understandably furious, but followed orders anyway.

Mehta crossed the finish line in Nairobi 5 minutes ahead Aaltonen to take his 3rd straight Safari victory. Or did he?

Aaltonen protested the win, citing time he had lost earlier in the race due to a wrongly located time check, and on other stages. Initially race officials ruled in his favor, moving Mehta into second place 9 hours after the finish but that decision was overturned later on appeal. Apparently Aaltonen had no right to file the first appeal so, after much debate and much time, Mehta was awarded the win and Aaltonen was forced back into second. Mehta and Aaltonen had been good friends up to this point, but now became bitter enemies. Aaltonen never raced for Nissan again.

Nissan had their best performance ever in the rally, with Mike Kirkland coming in 3rd behind Aaltonen to sweep the podium for the team. Timo Salonen brought the Silvia in 4th, with Iwashita and Nakahara in 7th, and Shah and Rahim in 8th. Datsuns took 12 of the 21 finishing positions with teams driving everything from 180b's to Silvia's to older 710's to every version of the Violet. Nissan won the team prize of course, capping a nearly perfect race with the exception of the Aaltonen -Mehta controversy.

The 1982 Marlboro Safari Rally

Everybody was watching Mehta and Aaltonen for this rally. Mehta was driving a 2 liter Violet GT again, while Aaltonen had taken a ride with Opel and their Ascona. Datsuns dominance of the event was starting to show, as fewer and fewer international entrants were willing to risk being defeated by the Japanese upstarts. Subaru and Mitsubishi were there in force, as were Opel, but other that a couple Porsches and some private entries the field was very limited.

Nissan entered both the PA10 Violet GT of Shekhar Mehta and Mike Doughty, and the VioletGTs/200sx. Another turbocharged Datsun Bluebird was in the field, but it failed to finish for the second straight year.

The first half of the race was relatively uneventful. The course was dry and dusty, with the exception of a few well placed mud holes that managed to swallow the occasional car and driver. One of the victims of this was Brit Tony Pond who was driving for Nissan. Every one of the leaders had some sort of problem or another. Aaltonen, the leader, broke a ball joint. Mehta had a differential failure, and Rohrl buried the second Opel in a mud hole. Timo Salonen had serious brake problems with his Silvia/Violet GTS. Munari was there driving a Porsche, but transmission troubles all but ended his race early on.

45 of the 73 original cars made it back to Nairobi in fairly good shape, with Aaltonen in first, Mehta 16 minutes behind, and Rohrl in the second Opel behind Mehta.

The second leg started out dry like the first. Noticeably absent on this leg was Munari and his Porsche who hadn't even bothered trying to finish due to his transmission problems. Timo Salonen's Datsun was out too, with a long list of complaints. Then the little things started to go wrong as usual. First Rohrl's Opel blew its belts. Then local Rob Collinge's Range Rover had its hood come loose causing him to crash blindly, breaking his front axle. And then Rauno Aaltonen had the toughest break of all. For some reason cars had been eating up rear differentials like popcorn on this rally. Nissan had gone through six on the first stage, and others had had similar experiences. Aaltonen wasn't unlucky to lose an axle he was just unlucky enough to do it in the middle of nowhere. By the time a chase car reached him and axles could be swapped, he'd lost 113 minutes. Aaltonen was effectively out of reach of the lead, dashing his hopes of defeating his rival.

Back in Nairobi at the end of stage 2, it was Mehta in the lead, followed by the Opel of Rohrl, then Aaltonen back in third, followed by Mike Kirkland in his Violet GTS, then Tony Pond in another GTS.

The cars headed out for the last leg around Mount Kenya. Tony ponds caught and passed Shekhar Mehta and Mike Doughty on the road then cleared a path for them through the wildlife and other mobile road hazards. The road was dry and life was pretty mundane for the drivers, except for "the unlucky Finn"; Rauno Aaltonen threw a rod in an engine that had never thrown a rod in competition before, ending his 19th attempt to win the Safari.

Mehta cruised on to victory for the fourth and last time, while Tony Pond broke a suspension component, letting Mike Kirkland pass into 3rd. Second place was held by Rohrl and co-driver Geistorfer's Opel.

The crowds cheered as local hero Mehta took the ramp back in Nairobi, setting a Safari Rally win total that has yet to be broken, and probably never will be. Mike Kirkland arrived third for his second podium finish in as many years. Tony Pond made a fabulous debut bring in his GTS in fourth, with local stars Jayant Shah and Aslam Khan making it 4 out of the top five for Nissan. Nissan had 7 of the 21 finishers in the race, another outstanding finish.

It was Mehta's, and Nissans, last Safari win. 1983 saw a whole new Class system that basically eliminated the cars that had dominated before. Another arrival on the scene had an equal impact, the Audi Quattro, a car that would change the world of rallying forever. The dawn of the All Wheel Drive – Four Wheel drive had started. Subaru was in the game, as was Toyota, but Nissan never joined the party.

Nissan had some great successes, notably with Mike Kirkland in a 240RS(the rally version of the 240SX) placing third in 1985, then placing second in '88 and '89 in a 200sx. Mike was still with the team when Nissan pulled out of World Rally competition after the 1991 season.

Shekhar Mehta kept rallying for a couple more years until a serious accident forced him to retire in 1987. He joined the management team of the Safari Rally and lead the organization for quite a number of years.

Mike Doughty left Shekhar to organize the Safari Rally after their 1982 victory. He ran it for several years, including 1987 from his bed after he and Shekhar crashed badly during the Rally of the Pharoahs in Egypt.

Rauno Aaltonen gave up on the Rally in 1987 after 23 attempts. He still managed to pull off 12 top ten finishes, a fantastic record for any driver, but the outright win he wanted eluded him to the bitter end.

Edgar Herrmann quit 2 years earlier in 1985. Like Aaltonen, Edgar had 23 Safari attempts under his belt, but he only managed to finish 5 times, 4 of them with Datsuns, including his two wins.

Joginder Singh as far as I know is still racing on and off to this day. Jo has an incredible Rally record; 3 wins, 13 top ten finishes, and only 3 retirements in 22 years of Safari. Mehta and Waldegaard(4) may have more wins, but Singh is probably the greatest Safari driver ever. He now lives in Canada.

The Safari Rally is still going strong. You can see them on the web soon at:

Contact Me