Hillyar and Aird (Ford 20M) Win:

New Route

Very Dry

The 17th East African Safari, roughest, fastest event ever held in the series was won by Robin Hillyar and Jock Aird in a Ford Taunus 20M. The route this year had to be altered because of difficulties with the Tanzanian authorities; the traditional southern loop was drastically shortened, and the main part of the rally was held in Uganda and Kenya, to the west of Lake Victoria.

STAGE speeds were as high as 85 mph, and the average for the whole event, including speed-limited sections, was 60 mph. Conditions were very rough, with very poor visibility caused by clouds of dust.

Despite this, Jack Simonian (Datsun P510) lost only 10 minutes on the opening Nairobi Kampala stage. His rally came to an end when, as he claimed "A bank came out and hit me'"

For the next 1,700 miles the battle for the lead was between the Soderstrom-Palm Ford 20M and the Preston-Gerrish Ford Cortina Lotus. There were never more than a few minutes between the two cars, but fewer than 500 miles from the finish Soderstrom broke the rear axle and Preston hit a bridge, wrecking the car totally. These retirements started a terrific last-minute battle between the eventual winners, Hillyar and Aird, the 1965 winner Joghinder Singh (Volvo 142S), Jamil Din (Datsun), Tony Fall (Lancia) and Armstrong (Peugeot). Ed Herrman, who was a late entry, started at No. 90 and then proceeded to overtake 86 other cars through the blinding dust to lie fourth on the road 300 miles from the finish.

Rauno Aaltonen, sharing the Lancia Fulvia HF coupe with Henry Liddon, was having a terrible time. Their car was involved in an accident shortly after the start and they had to cover 1,700 miles without a windscreen. The bodywork was so distorted that a new screen could not be fitted, and Rauno wrapped his head in a towel to provide protection against birds and insects-the car was full of dead birds and live insects! Pat Moss-Carlsson and Susan Siegle-Morris (Lancia) had also lost their screen and, as the car was falling to pieces round them, they had to give up. Another Safari giant to have trouble was Nick Nowicki (Peugeot). His car hit a tree, but he managed to fix it and press on. The fantastic speeds were leading to many other accidents, with cars running into the bush and over the edges of escarpments, but mercifully nobody was hurt. The Peugeot team were praying for rain, as in the dry conditions they could not match the British and German Fords for sheer speed.

John Sprinzel (Peugeot) and Tony Fall (Lancia) were among the "foreign" drivers who made up the 32 finishers out of the 91 starters. The saddest story was told by Lionnet, who was driving a totally untried Peugeot 504. He had failed to observe a stop sign and was disqualified at the finish.

The 1969 Safari has set a new pattern with the pace men now very much the heroes. And it seems, regrettably, that the Safari can still be run without Tanzania ever being included in the route again.


1. Ford (R. Hillyar-J. Aird); 2. Volvo (J. Singh-B. Bhardwaj); 3. Datsun (J. Din-M. Minhas); 4. Porsche (5. Zasada Wachowski); 5. Peugeot (M. Armstrong-D. Paveley); 6. Datsun (E. Herrman-H. Schuller): 7. Datsun IR. RandallĀ­W. Parkinson); B. Datsun (J. Greenly-N. Collinge); 9. Lancia Fulvia (R. Aaltonen-H. Liddon); 10. Peugeot (N. Nowicki P. B. Cliff).




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