The 2003 Classic Safari Challenge

 A three week marathon drive across the heart of Africa. 


From Etosha

Another thatched lodge tonight, this time in the Etosha Game Reserve.

ANOTHER thatched lodge tonight, this time in the Etosha Game Reserve, pleasant enough, but just not quite in the same league as the service and comforts we have almost come to expect after the past few days. But when it's super hot, any long bar with a long pool is good enough. We were all here in the Etosha Game reserve by early afternoon.

Cars are dotted around the greens and work goes on apace. Some drivers, however, just have nothing to do and nothing to report - the white Jaguar XK140 of Do Meeus from Holland, for example, is running as perfectly as the day it started, and this long-suffering Jaguar has already circumnavigated the globe on the Around the World in 80 Days. Chris and Jan Dunkley's Bentley also notched up another day in the life of the most-travelled Derby Bentley Special without so far seeing a spanner since Cape Town.

The Bentleys have been good, solid reliable rallycars on this event so far, Richard Dangerfield in the big vintage Bentley Le Mans had bothers last night mending a puncture. The vingtageants have been in good heart, and going well. Today Nigel and Paul Broderick arrived with electrical problems in the high chassis Invicta, but reckons it is fixable.

Tom Hayes survived today without a clutch in his blue Mercedes 220SE, but proclaimed to the film crew on arrival here that despite tracking down a spare clutch, it has been fun driving without and the car is running fine.

Even Christopher Claridge-Ware reports that his Merc SL is now fine, having suffered two punctures two days running (but punctures have been a very rare experience for the rest of us), and grot in the fuel tank gumming up the works. Bill Borchert Larson bought an untested Mercedes after the failure of the Silver Ghost, and he has no papers for the car, but keeps pushing on. The 280 saloon sounds super smooth, and despite no preparation, no sumpshield even, is doing better than many.

Not so happy with their Mercedes motoring are Hugh and Julie Brogan, the tank has been given troubles, having found the rough roads dislodge loads of rubbish lining the tank, blocking fuel pipes and filters, and today the fan belt gave up, as it was discovered one pulley is wider than the other. But they have found plenty of time to see some stunning scenery.

Roberto and Rita Chiodi, normally in an Italian car, (of course), are also converts to Mercedes reliability with no dramas, and Roger Lucas says he has struggled to find anything to do on his SL.

Ray Carr's co-driver Michael Greenwood has done a great job in looking after Ray and The General (a straight eight Chrysler), having fixed the generator without loss of any points. Anthony Cazalet and Paul Weldon in the V8 Ford Pilot complain that it just rumbles along slowly, but have suffered over-heating problems in the blistering sunshine, and nowadays can be seen running with no bonnet fitted at all.

Mark de Ferranti says the Rolls Phantom glides along without any worries, and not a spot of oil has been consumed so far.

Paul Markland seems to be over his engine worries, as the Bentley is being gunned hard everywhere. Anders Wulf dropped time today in the Volvo PV544 when a spring came detached, and needed the help of the Sweeps in the mobile workshops.

David Inns and Pam Wallis in the Volvo 144S have been going well, but had to replace a shockabsorber - he is convinced the rally Bilsteins are not so well suited to this sort of going, being too hard, and he wishes he had stuck with Konis.

Meanwhile, Jens and Anne Pilo from Denmark in the Bentley R Type saloon say all is well, nothing to report "touch wood", and with all that walnut aboard he is not short of the stuff. After a full week at the wheel, pounding mile after mile of gravel roads, everyone seems in fine fettle.

Richard Fenhalls and Heather Milne-Taylor won the Champagne Test section today, the red Mercedes SL was flying well.... and the Brodericks with the Invicta won the prize for the vintageants category.


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