Following the opening prologue stage at Vipingo, Kick Energy Rally driver Steve Perez completed the opening test of the East African Safari Rally in fifth place and will head into the second day just behind last year's winner Bjorn Waldegard.
Perez reported few dramas on the 10km stage and is in confident mood, which is in stark contrast to the build up to the rally; which has seen the team endure a number of problems.
First up, engine failure during early testing with the historic-specification Datsun 260Z, which Perez is sharing with the experienced co-driver Staffan Parmander, meant that spares had to be flown in from Australia and also a heavy landing meant the BTR team had to change the track control arm and bottom joint on one side of the front suspension before Perez could continue with the 300km of pre-event testing that was required.
Another part of the Perez quipe which was also put to the test early on and worked perfectly first time was his personal helicopter, which the Briton chartered this year following his accident on the event two years ago.
That got called into use earlier than anticipated to take his partner, Angie, to Mombasa hospital after she had fallen and, as it turned out, had broken a small bone in her foot.
"The stage today was nothing in comparison to the run up we've had to the start what with the problems with the engine and the suspension damage!” he said. “I'm pleased with my time today which will see us start just behind Bjorn so if we end up catching him, I know I'm going too fast! Also, it was very good of Angie to volunteer to try out the Medivac emergency procedure we had implemented and I'll rest easier knowing that is in place if I need it."
Day two sees the crew leave the Whitesands Hotel in Mombasa for a loop inland to the Taita Hills Lodge near Voi.