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Kenyan-born Briton returns for 'Safari Classic Rally 2017'   

By Ben Ochieng NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- It will be a dream-come-true for Kenyan-born Briton Scott Armstrong when he returns to Kenya to compete at his childhood passion rallying.

Armstrong, who is currently training in Kenya, will compete at the East African Safari Classic Rally that will be flagged off in the coastal city of Mombasa on Nov. 23.
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The race will take competitors to neighboring Tanzania and end at the same venue on Dec. 1.

“I saved money and prepared for years to take part in the event, having taken part in the Safari Classic as a mechanic in 2009 and again in 2015 on Nick Mason’s 260Z.

"My 2017 entry was my maiden participation as a rally driver,” Armstrong told Xinhua during an interview in Nairobi on Saturday.

“I was born and raised in Kenya.

"We lived here until I was seven, when my family moved to the UK. My dad was a big rally enthusiast and took me to watch the Safari Rally, always bringing his camera along too,” Armstrong remarked.

  Datsun 160J Violet is one of the most successful cars in Safari Rally history | Coastweek

NAIROBI (Safari Classic Rally) -- The Datsun 160J Violet is one of the most successful cars in Safari Rally history. PHOTO - SCR

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As he grew up, Armstrong became increasingly obsessed with a photo his father had taken in 1982 of legendary rally driver, Shekhar Mehta in the Datsun 160J Violet.“

Cars have been my passion since childhood and I have always loved rallying.

"Slowly the dream emerged to follow in Mehta’s tyre tracks to do the Safari Rally in the same type of car as his,” Armstrong said.

His co-driver, Harpal Sudle, said Armstrong sent him to Tanzania to source for the rally car that Mehta used in the original Safari as a recce (reconnaissance) car for the works team.

“We bought the shell of a car alongside the parts and shipped them to the UK. Our car for the Classic includes much of those parts.

"Scott’s dream has been 10 years in the making and I am excited to be part of it,” Sudle noted.

Armstrong said the Datsun 160J Violet is one of the most successful cars in Safari Rally history, having won four times in a row.

“I have spent years tracking down original works parts to complete my car to specification and it is almost ready.

"It will be a very proud moment when we become the first team to bring a 160J back to Safari after almost thirty years,” Armstrong stated.

Armstrong currently lives in Britain on the outskirts of Coventry.

"His earliest memory of the Safari is watching the late Mehta win his 3rd Safari Rally in the same car.

The tyre test engineer who works for an international manufacturer built the car at home with help from friends and family and has literally put the car together over the last six years by himself using experienced he gained from every Safari Rally he serviced at.

He reiterated that his dream remains to bring one of the most iconic cars in Safari to the finish podium.

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  “It will be a very proud
moment when we become
the first team to bring a
160J Violet back to Safari
for almost thirty years."
      -- Scott Armstrong

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EARLIER REPORT:

Safari Dreams come true: Scott Armstrong’s Datsun 160J

NAIROBI (Safari Classic Rally) -- Alongside the sporting challenges of the Safari Classic Rally, our biennial occasion is a wonderfully social event and the variety of paths that lead to a Safari Classic entry never cease to amaze.

Up to sixty cars take part on every Safari Classic Rally, each with its own crew of people around it, so our community of past and present competitors has hundreds of stories to tell.

We’re sharing these under the “Safari Story” banner and our first piece tells the story of Scott Armstrong, who is tackling the 2017 Safari Classic with Harpal Sudle in the co-driver’s seat.

Scott has saved and prepared for years to take part in Safari, doing his first Safari Classic as a mechanic in 2009 and again in 2015 on Nick Mason’s 260Z.

“I was born and raised in Kenya,” says Scott.

“We lived there until I was seven years old, when my family moved to the UK.

"My dad was a big rally enthusiast and took me to watch the Safari Rally, always bringing his camera along too.

“As I grew up, I became increasingly obsessed by a photo my dad had taken of Shekhar Mehta in the Datsun Violet in 1982.

"Cars have been my passion since childhood and I have always loved rallying.

"Slowly the dream emerged to follow in Shekhar’s tyre tracks and do the Safari Rally in the same type of car.”

“Scott sent me to Tanzania to source this rally car,” says Harpal.

“It was used in the original Safari, as what we think was a recce car for the works team.

"We bought the shell plus parts and shipped them back to the UK.

"Our car for the Classic includes much of that parts haul. Scott’s dream has been ten years in the making and I am excited to be part of it.”

“The Datsun 160J Violet is one of the most successful cars in Safari Rally history,” says Scott.

“It won four times in a row (which people have inexplicably forgotten) with Shekhar behind the wheel.

"I have spent years tracking down original works parts to complete my car to the proper specification and it is almost ready – just a few jobs to do before shipping.

“It will be a very proud moment when we become the first team to bring a 160J Violet back to Safari for almost thirty years.

"I have been a “helper” on two Safari Classic events and made good friends as a result.

“My team of buddies includes Pali (the loud one), Billy (the crazy one), Idris (the sensible one) and three of my UK rally service crew friends: Kevin, Alan and Lara. We are hoping to get to the end without too many problems. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and I can’t wait to start the Safari.”

What a fantastic journey! We will be very excited to wave Scott and Harpal off on their epic adventure this November!

Remember: you read it first at coastweek.com !


2017-diamondtrust | Coastweek

 

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