Southern Cross Safari

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Bentley on top in Africa

A 1927 Bentley emerged victorious after 19 days and 2000 miles of competition on the Southern Cross Safari from the Rally the Globe organisation. Paul Lawrence reports.

After nearly three weeks of challenging driving through the mountains, game reserves and private estates of Kenya and Tanzania, the 1927 Bentley 4½ Le Mans of British husband and wife team Keith and Norah Ashworth took overall victory after a dramatic final day.

The abnormal amount of rain that’s fallen in East Africa really tested the cars and drivers, including the winning Ashworth Bentley

The win for the 93-year-old Bentley only came on the closing day of the marathon, after the 1965 2-litre Porsche 911 of husband and wife Gavin and Diana Henderson faltered in the special tests and regularity sections set in the famous Taita Hills.

The Ashworths started the final day down in eighth place but as others struggled with timing and navigation, the Bentley swept ahead.  “A Bentley’s power-to-weight-ratio is all power and lots of weight.  Knowing how to control these two forces is what makes the difference,” said Ashworth.  “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!”

The Jaguar E-type of Clint and Dawn Smith.  Photos Gerard Brown Courtesy Rally the Globe

While the Hendersons dropped back to finish fifth overall, Danes Lars and Annette Rolner were the first Porsche crew home in their 1974 3.2-litre 911, finishing second behind the Bentley to take Classic Category honours.  Just three seconds split the top three at the finish.

For a fuller report see our April 2020 issue

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