Steve Perez continued his good progress on day three of the 2009 Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic Rally having climbed from his fifth position overnight to third place after the loop through Tanzania.
Once again, the day was packed with drama which started on the day's opening stage when an incorrect route note saw the historic-specification Datsun 260Z sustain a heavy landing over a dune although no damage was sustained. Fellow competitor Wayne Kieswetter hit the same dune and crashed out, sustaining a broken shoulder in the process.
The second stage of the day was the roughest of the rally in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and what started out in bright sunshine ended up in thick fog and heavy rain but despite this, Perez set third fastest time in a repeat of his feat on the day's opening test.
By the time that Perez and co-driver Staffan Parmander arrived at the third stage, the roads were flooded and such were the conditions in the bush area that the pair got the car stuck and lost around ten minutes.
However, due to Parmander's experience in the Paris Dakar Rally, he guided Perez to safety in the deep sand and continued and despite the time loss, the pair held onto third place at tonight's halt at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge at Usa River near Arusha.
Revelling in the atmosphere of the event, Perez was upbeat about his performance as well as revealing he had acted as a Good Samaritan to fellow competitor and early leader, Gerard Marcy.
"Gerard had a problem in that his battery went flat and he ended up paying some local hoodlum around £600 for one so he could continue,” he said. “However, it turned out to be not much better than the one he had so I told my service crew to go and find him and to loan him one of our spares which they did as it's only right you help out fellow competitors. However, I've told Gerard that if he ends up beating us, I'll be sending him a bill for the same amount!
“As for today, mainly thanks to Staffan, we managed to get through the one or two problems we encountered and were lucky not to crash on the first stage but I'm delighted to hold third place. Our best wishes go to Wayne and hope he has a speedy recovery."
Day four sees the crew leave the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge and head for the relatively short run around Lake Manyara in Tanzania.