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In a shocking display of attempting to manipulate the forthcoming East African Classic Safari Rally, the organisers have taken the unusual decision to ban the Ford Capri Perana of 2013 winner Ian Duncan. Attempts by Duncan to discuss this situation with the organizers has met with no success. By banning the winning car from the 2013 edition (after having initially accepted the entry and entry fee!), the organisers have also ruled out no less than three other Ford Capri Peranas from the nine day event!

This decision is reminiscent of the events that occurred following Ian’s triumph in a Ford Mustang in 2007. After winning that event Duncan had to undergo hours of uncertainty before his victory was ruled legal. The regulations for this bi-annual event were then amended in such a way as to ensure the Mustang would no longer be competitive! The irony of the situation is that there were no complaints about either car when they were not challenging for victory. The Mustang first appeared in 2007 but failed to finish. In 2009 the car returned and emerged victorious after a tense battle with the Porsche of Bjorn Waldegaard which lasted the entire nine days.

After the Mustang was handicapped by the new regulations Duncan fulfilled a life-long dream and built a Ford Capri V8 Perana. This was a car which had seen much success in South Africa in the mid 1970’s and which is now a front runner in the British Historic Racing Championship. This is also a car that first appeared on the 2005 edition of the Classic Safari.

Although competitive, the Capri of Duncan and co-driver Amaar Slaatch, had teething troubles and finished down the order in 2011. For 2013 Duncan was engaged in a three way battle with two former World Rally Champions, Bjorn Waldegaard and Stig Blomqvist. Both European drivers were at the wheel of Tuthill UK built Porsche 911’s. Although Waldegaard crashed out, the battle between Duncan and Blomqvist was intense. The two drivers traded times and the gap was never more than 5 minutes throughout the 3500 kilometre long event. On the final day first Duncan and then Blomqvist punctured, swapping the lead between them. Such was the intensity of this battle, followed around the World, that the Classic Safari website server crashed from the shear volume!

Ultimately Duncan triumphed when Blomqvist punctured on the very last stage. Blomqvist was the first to congratulate Duncan, a former Toyota works driver. However key members of the media and public overheard a senior member of the Tuthill Team vow, in public, that Duncan’s Capri would never win again!

The reason for the change of regulation that ruled out the Mustang was straightforward. The organizers were insisting that all axles must now be mounted with a single shock absorber. By banning twin shock absorbers meant that the heavy Mustang would be very fragile on this, the Worlds toughest rally! This change in regulation only affected the Mustang!

The re-writing of regulations forcing the four Ford Capri Peranas, as well as a number of other potential entries, was to reword the regulation regarding homologation. The new regulations, issued months after entries opened for the 2015 event, state that Period Appendix J regulations and freedoms may only be used if you can prove ‘use in period during an International standard competition’. Previously all a competitor had to do was prove that the model had run in competition in period. The issue is that, in the 1970’s the V8 Perana was a Ford South Africa built car and only raced and rallied, at that time, in South Africa. An interesting comment was received by the new scruitineer stating that the rally was a totally un-level playing field… and yet the results of the 2013 event were the closest in the history of the event?! The competitive nature of this event was also closer than on any recent one day Kenyan National Rally Championship event where most of the top ten all routinely use similar cars!

One might query if a rival team has the power to bend the organisers will regarding sporting regulations. However in 2013 one Porsche Team arrived with no less than 19 cars! Considering that the International entry fee is US$43 000 this represents a considerable amount of income generated by just one team. Currently that very same team is bringing a further 11 cars to the 2015 event. Since changing the rules the entry list has dropped from a capacity of 60 cars down to 52 cars due to people now being concerned about the eligibility of cars that were formerly accepted. (In 2013 the rally was graced by a gorgeous Corvette Stingray from Holland which was purpose built for the event… this car is now, seemingly, not welcome back! (There is also a strong theory that the same Porsche team holds a not unsubstantial shareholding in the organization that runs the rally!)

In meetings between Ian Duncan and the shareholders the directors assured Ian that his Capri, and the others on the entry list, would be allowed to compete in 2015. Non-refundable deposits were paid and then the bulletin concerning eligibility was sent out three months later! Ian has now been informed that he needs to replace the V8 with a 3.0 litre V6 engine. The Ford V8 engine costs (from America) in the region of US$8 000, whilst a 3 litre V6 from the UK would cost in excess of US$30 000 for a competitive engine. Then you will also have to replace the gearbox, propshaft and axles. There has been no reasonable explanation for why the rules have changed. A Ford Capri Perana first competed on the Classic Safari in 2005. In 2007 no less than three of these cars contested the rally. There has been at least one on every entry list ever since. For 2015 four were entered.

In 2014 the Tuthill Team cried foul after their modern Porsche 911 GT was not allowed to contest the WRC Wales Rally GB. The team attacked the FIA for halting them when they were “just trying to do something new and different”! The very same team now appears hell bent on preventing a Kenyan from challenging them on a rally where talent still has the ability to triumph over budget… hardly seems fair, does it?

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