The East Africa Safari Classic has become a mecca for lovers of vintage rallying and what could be more authentic than a seventy-seven year old racer and his 1975 Porsche 911...
Bernhard Kessel has been a lifelong motorsport competitor and still finds the drive to leave his successful business in Germany to compete at events such as the EASC. Driving with his son Ronny as co-driver (a Porsche Sports Cup driver in his own right!) the duo love the atmosphere and sense of adventure the event retains.
The event itself was created after the loss of the Safari Rally from the FIA World Rally Championship in 2002, when rally enthusiasts led by Mike Kirkland decided to recreate the nostalgia of “The Safari” by reverting to the unique characteristics of the East African Safari Rally. Entries restricted to classic cars built before 1974 would avoid the more powerful turbocharged and 4WD models. Rally stage sections would be longer and service support would be limited, just like in the early days.
Running through the stunning and often untouched regions of Kenya and Tanzania, the event is the biggest motorsport event in East Africa. The gruelling nine day rally through the African bush was recently won by the legendary Stig Blomqvist and attracts many top competitors.
Supported by renowned German performance house and Öhlins Centre a-workx this was however the Munich based firm’s first foray into the rough and tumble world of rallying. Company owner Niko Wieth explains, “Because we are well known for our work on Porsches in FIA and German GT racing, maybe we were a natural choice for Bernhard and Ronny, who also races with us in the Porsche Cup.
Anyway, it was a complete rebuild from the ground up (full specs follow) and our first Rally Car, so a nice project. We have a good relationship with Öhlins ODTC supporting them with new applications so we had an idea of where to go with suspension at least!”
The event was Bernhard’s third rally after a career in sports car racing and motocross. A keen motorsport collector he also owns six Audi Quattro specials including one-off Pikes Peak racers.
Bernhard explains the experience of the ‘Safari’ , “This year we started well but then on day two, disaster when our engine broke. Only after the fifth day, when we got a new engine, things went good again.
A-workx built our car and from the start they recommended to use Öhlins suspension. Both me and Ronny had raced solo and sidecar motocross so we knew the brand from that and car racing, so we were happy with the choice. In terms of performance and comfort we were very satisfied, it was definitely a much better driving experience than before.
We are now planning what events to race in 2017!”
Tech spec – Porsche 911 1975
Engine: Custom build with unique carburetors and alloy cylinder block.
Chassis: Full Chassis rebuild and strengthened
Roll Cage: built especially for DMSb Homologation
Wiring: Custom made wiring looms by a-workx
Gearbox: 915 specially built and strengthened, new special treated Gears in
Clutch: Organic Sach Race Engineering
Drive shafts: special build with tripods
Short shift and fly off handbrake
Front wheelcarrier: a-workx custom build
Rear wheelcarrier: full rebuild and strengthened
Wishbones: in steel and uni-ball bearings
Suspension: Öhlins custommade Suspension front and rear with adjustable rebound and bump
Brakes: AP brake system including calipers, discs and paddle box. Customized by a-workx
Hoses: Custom build with fast connectors by Krontec and Stäubli
Windows: Macrolon rear and side windows
Protection: Special underplates in alloy to protect the car
Tyres: Offroad tyres from DMAC
All images courtesy of Anwar Sidi Photography 2016