09 Dec 2019

Tuthill Porsche wins the 2019 Safari Classic Rally

Kris Rosenberger and Nicola Bleicher win the 2019 Safari Classic Rally

Kris Rosenberger and Nicola Bleicher have won the 2019 East African Safari Classic Rally. Driving a Porsche 911 Safari car built by Tuthill Porsche, the pair finished 1 minute and 33 seconds ahead of former world rally champion, Stig Blomqvist, and co-driver, Jörgen Fornander, of Team Tidö Race4Health. 

While Rosenberger is the 1997 Austrian rally champion and three-time national historic rally champion with a previous Safari Rally 2wd podium in his CV, co-driver Niki had only competed in two smaller rallies before this event. Despite this, the pair proved unbeatable over nine days and thousands of kilometres of tight competition, during which the rally lead changed hands several times. 

“There was no luck involved in this debut Safari win,” said Richard Tuthill. “Safari is all about pacing oneself and keeping out of trouble. Kris and Niki brought an unbeatable combination of speed and consistency to East Africa and kept their true pace under wraps for nine days, before delivering an extraordinary performance on the penultimate stage. It was a delight to support them on their first African rally together and they fully deserve this victory.”

“It’s easier when you know you have to drive to the maximum, because you have Stig Blomqvist ahead of you and he is not about to slow down,” said Kris. “Starting the last day in second position, we had no option but to just go flat out. The car was amazing – had I known what it was capable of, we could have gone much faster through the whole rally!

“Niki did a great job reading the notes and was on it the whole way. In our first stage today, we hit every bump – except the triple cautions – at full throttle and that just put us in front. We are so proud to win here in Africa: it is a dream come true. Many thanks to this wonderful team and to all of our friends and supporters!”

Further down the order, more Tuthill customers enjoyed Safari success. Enjoying his first Safari Classic Rally was Philip Kadoorie (above), who finished just off the podium in fourth position, accompanied by co-driver and 2017 Safari Classic joint winner, Ryan Champion. 

Team Tidö Race4Health

Team Tidö Race4Health entered three Tuthill-built 911s and all three finished in the top six. Team leader, Stig Blomqvist (above), held the lead for several days until dropping to second in the penultimate stage but, behind the scenes, Race4Health’s incredible eyewear distribution project set new records in the number of people assisted over the nine-day rally. The three opticians and their assistants dispensed over two thousand pairs of donated glasses, making 2019 the team’s most successful philanthropic effort to date.

Italy’s Eugenio Amos (above) was another Tuthill entrant who enjoyed an eventful debut Safari. He and co-driver Roberto Mometti won several stages and came home seventh overall in their distinctive 911 in Alitalia livery. The father/daughter team of Joe and Kaye Hayes (below) finished in twelfth position on their debut Safari.

The final Tuthill-run car to cross the line was the 1956 Porsche 356A of Renée Brinkerhoff (below), with daughter Juliette in the co-driver’s seat. The 2019 Safari Classic Rally was the fifth of sixth events in Renée’s 356 World Rally Tour: an ambitious project to rally the beloved classic Porsche on every continent of the world. Crossing the line in a car that is almost as old as the original Safari Rally is an incredible achievement – well done to Renée and Juliette.

Congratulations to all of our competitors and to the organisers on another superb event. Sincere thanks to each of our team members: both in Africa and back home in Wardington. We could not have done this without you!

Photos by McKlein Photography