1968 Safari Rally

Leg 1Nairobi-Kakamega-Kampala-Kitale-Nairobi2300 km/1428 miles
Leg 2Nairobi-Mombassa-Korogwe-Dar es Salaam-Mvomero-Korogwe-Arusha-Nairobi2650 km/1646 miles

The 1968 Safari Rally was one of the most difficult ever, with only 7 entrants out of the 91 who started finishing. As usual, the works teams relied on local drivers supplimented with entries for their usual European drivers. BMC entered Timo Mäkinen in an Austin/Morris 1800 (nicknamed the Land Crab), while Ford entered Bengt Söderström and local drivers Vic Preston and Robin Ullyate. Numerous other drivers entered with Peugeot 404's and Datsun 510's being popular.

The monsoon arrived early in 1968, and even before the drivers started out there were reports of widespread flooding on the route. However, the conditions were even worse than expected once underway, with water and mud everywhere, often hiding rocks and tree stumps. The resulting battering snapped the driveshafts of Mäkinen's Austin while ascending Mau Narok, and at Kampala, 26 cars had already retired. Some of the conditions were man made - Pat Moss (Renault 16) drove into a rock wall built across the road by some disaffected Ugandan locals. By the time the cars returned to Nairobi, only 22 cars were able to continue, and the rally was led by Joginder Singh and V.Smith in a Datsun.

Peter Huth and Ian Grant in their Lotus Cortina.

The conditions on the southern leg were reported to be even worse than on the northern leg, so the organisers took steps to ensure that they had a finisher at the end of the rally. The maximum lateness allowed when arriving at a control was extended from four hours to eight, and some of the worse roads in Tanzania were cut from the route. This still didn't help many of the survivors - Söderström's Lotus Cortina became irretrievably stuck in the mud on the way south from Mombassa. Bert Shankland's Peugeot 404 hit a submerged tree stump and almost wrecked his suspension; he knocked his wheels more or less in line with a sledgehammer, only to have the front of his car break away when 200 miles from the finish. 17 cars left Mombassa, 13 arrived in Korogwe. There were only eight when the cars passed back through Korogwe on the way north.

The leader at this point was Peter Huth, but the car was running badly and had an emergency windscreen roped in place following a roll. He managed to reach Nairobi first, but conceded more penalties than the catching Peugeot 404 behind him driven by Nick Nowicki and Paddy Cliff. Five other intrepid crews dribbled in behind them.

Nick Nowicki and his Peugeot 404

Rally Result

1Nick Nowicky/Paddy CliffPeugeot 404
2Peter Huth/Ian GrantLotus Cortina
3Kim MandevilleTriumph 2000
4Mike ArmstrongPeugeot 404
5Jonginder Singh/V.SmithDatsun 510
6Robin UllyateLotus Cortina GT
7Lucille Cardwell/Mrs Gerry DaviesDatsun 510
RTimo MäkkinenAustin/Morris 1800driveshaft
RPat MossRenault 16crash
RBengt SönderströmLotus Cortinastuck in mud
RBert ShanklandPeugeot 404broken suspension