Bentley duo claims epic Southern Cross Safari win

| 6 Mar 2020
Bentley duo claims epic Southern Cross Safari win

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A last-gasp effort secured victory for British husband-and-wife crew Keith and Norah Ashworth in their 1927 Bentley 4½ Litre Le Mans, on the inaugural Southern Cross Safari.

Organised by Rally the Globe and visiting Kenya and Tanzania, the action kicked off on 15 February, the 23 crews with 19 days and 2000 miles of competition ahead of them.

But it wasn’t until yesterday (5 March) in Kenya, on the rally’s final day, that the Ashworths stormed up from eighth place to grab both the lead and overall victory.

Keith and Norah Ashworth en route to a memorable victory
Keith and Norah Ashworth en route to a memorable victory

“To take this win means such a lot, because it’s our first-ever endurance rally win. And we did it because I’ve got the best navigator,” said a delighted Keith. 

“A Bentley’s power to weight ratio is all power and lots of weight, and knowing how to control these two forces is what makes the difference.”

And as well as overall victory, the pair also took Vintageant class honours.

Rocky terrain didn’t deter the Danish, Martini-liveried 911
Rocky terrain didn’t deter the Danish, Martini-liveried 911

One-time rally leaders Lars and Annette Rolner from Denmark in their 1974 Porsche 911 were always in contention, but in the end had to settle for second, as well as topping the Classics category.

“There was much more rain than we’d expected, which in turn led to some terrible road conditions, but we suffered no real problems,” reported Lars.

“I’m happy to be here on the podium and not in the divorce courts.”

Clint and Dawn Smith’s E-type battles on
Clint and Dawn Smith’s E-type battles on

And completing that podium were another British crew, Clint and Dawn Smith in their ’67 Jaguar E-type.

A fantastic tribute to both the competitors and the assistance crews was the fact that all-but-one car saw the rally’s finish.

And, in addition to the overall and class gongs, Enrico Paggi and Federica Mascetti (1971 Fiat 124 Spider) and Denis and Jill Wilson (1969 Rover P5B) shared the Spirit of the Rally accolade.

Meanwhile, the Against All Odds award went to Dieter and Hildegard Baumhäckel for keeping their 1961 Volvo PV544, plagued with suspension problems, in the rally.

Images: Gerard Brown/Rally the Globe


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