Ramesh Vishram, the defending National Rally Classic Car champion and America-based Tim Mammen have signed up for the 2017 Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic slated for November 23 to December 1.
The duo are the latest entrants alongside Kenya’s Stefano Roca and Team Tido who have confirmed a three car Porsche 911 team.
Team Tido becomes the second team after Kabras Sugar Racing to enter a three-car Porsche 911 team. Although Kabras lineup for the event will comprise Baldev Chager and the Rai siblings -Onkar and Tejveer, Team Tido is yet to announce names for their team. All that is known is that two of their Porsches will be driven by Swede nationalities.
Vishram, who has over the the past few years developed a penchant for Ford Escorts, will be navigated by event debutante Riyaz Ismail. The reigning Kenya KNRC Classic Car Champion, returns to the Safari Classic scene with the same Mark2 which he drives on the local series. The 2017 edition will indeed be Ramesh’s fourth Safari Classic although he was part of the old type EA Safari Rally before it was scrapped off from the World Rally Championship.
Vishram tackled the 2011 and 2013 Safari Classic editions with Atul Kochhar and teamed up with Rohit Bhudia in 2015.
Mammen, on the other hand, navigated Kishen Bhanderi on the 2015 Safari edition. He has now swapped positions from the navigators seat and will this time round team up with Keith Henrie behind the wheel of a Datsun 1600sss.
Another Kenyan driver Stefano Roca returns to the competition for the umpteenth time navigated by two times former KNRC navigators champion Piers Daykin. Daykin who resides in Timau in eastern Kenya. is an old hand in the game having guided South Africa based Lee Rose to two KNRC titles in 2003 and 2004.
Like Piers, Ramesh is also a veteran of the game and has seen rallying technology morph through different guises. “During the days of WRC, I was actively involved with the Daihatsu Rally Team for about 10 years, but landed a Ford on the 2011 Safari Classic, and since then realised that the cars are reliable. Getting spares is relatively easier than other cars. Yes for now, Ford it is!”
Asked about his passion for classic racing, Ramesh went on: “Classic is a real test of man against machine. I love long sections – its literally doing a KNRC rally every day for 9 days! Driving and maintaining the car on a continuous basis needs mental and physical stamina as well as good planning and a reliable team too.”
Ramesh’s navigator (Riyaz) has never competed on the Classic Safari but has been part of it as a controller and service crew.
“It’s a rare chance to do the world’s greatest event and I can only thank Cementers Racing and Ramesh for this golden opportunity. I was in the management team for Aslam Khan of ALS and I’m glad to be back in a different capacity. This being my eighth year in the KNRC and sixth year in rally raids, I have finally managed to get the rare opportunity. What I know is that this is a different ball game altogether with longer stages and indeed nine days of gruelling action. But I must count myself lucky to have already experienced some of it during the Rift 1000 Classic Rally where we finished sixth overall. So I’m sure my rally raid experience will come in handy as the notes system are more or less the same. All I need to is to just up my fitness in order to cope with the rigors of classic rally.” said Riyaz who won the Classic championship with Ramesh last year. Mammen was born in Kenya but lives in America. -CHRISTINE BABU