East African Safari Classic 2015: Mason and Sudle survive a tough first four days

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Nick Mason and Harpal Sudle in action during the East African Safari Classic 2015
Nick Mason and Harpal Sudle in action during the East African Safari Classic 2015. Photo: Geoff Mayes Images

The NM Rallying team of Waltham Abbey’s Nick Mason and Leeds’ Harpal Sudle have made it to Lake Manyara in Tanzania for the mid rally rest day.

Mason is a vetran of 4 Safaris, having first contested the East African Safari Classic back in 2005. The Waltham Abbey adventure seeker has raced everything from single seaters to contesting the Dakar Rally!

His Kenyan born co-driver, Harpal Sudle, now lives in Leeds, and has been involved with the Clasic Safari since it’s inception in 2003, with a best finish, as a co-driver, of 17th overall.

During the past four days of this year’s rally, the D-Mack Tyres, Proflex Suspension, Swift Energy, Binani Cement, World Rubber and CPM Concrete supported Datsun 240Z have endured a collision with a concrete culvert, narrow misses with wildlife, swollen rivers and thick glutinous mud.

After over 1500 kilometres of rallying action the pair find themselves nestled between a Triumph TR7 V8 and a Ferrari, on the fringes of the top twenty overall.

Harpal Sudle wave during East African Safari Classic
Harpal Sudle waves to spectators during the East African Safari Classic Rally 2015. Photo Geoff Mayes Images

The Kenyan Airways East African Safari Classic Rally is recognised as the World’s Toughest Motor Rally. And the 2015 edition is no exception. “El Nino” rains have descended on the Great Rift Valley and the organisers have been faced with a logistical nightmare as stages have been cancelled and re-routed due to swollen rivers and roads turned into unpassable mud holes.

Nick and Harpal did not enjoy the best start to their rally when they slid off on a tight bend and hit a culvert on the second section of the rally. This same culvert had already claimed pre-rally favourite Gerard Marcy. Fortunately, apart from a cracked radiator, the NM Rallying Datsun 240Z, emerged unscathed. Since that early drama the team has managed to stay out of trouble and as a result are enjoying their strongest showing on this bi-annual event.

“When we hit that culvert on the second section we really thought this was the beginning of a drama filled Classic Safari but we backed off slightly after that and so far, so good. We have managed to keep the car straight and avoid some of the dramas which can turn a good rally into a real headache.” Nick Mason

“Nick has driven fantastically in the mud and his previous experience of this rally is really showing. We are going cautiously over the rough and trying to avoid unnecessary damage to the car. My navigation has been good too, even though it’s tricky at times picking the correct goat track through the bush at 150+ kph!” – Harpal Sudle

Night time maintenance during East African Safari Classic
The night isn’t a time to rest for the crews in the East African Safari Classic. Photo: Geoff Mayes Images

The crews have a well deserved rest day today before they begin the return journey back to the Kenyan Coast. A further 2000 kilometres face the surviving 44 crews, and with more rain forecast overnight, tomorrows stages should not be underestimated!

Nick and Harpal are using this world famous event to raise awareness for www.osiligi.org and are supported by D-Mack Tyres, Proflex Suspension, Swift Energy, Binani Cement and CPM Concrete.

For live up-dates, you can follow the team on Facebook and Twitter.