Bentley Triumph on a New Adventure
Eastern Africa is renowned for its diverse wildlife and breathtaking surroundings. So why not plan an endurance rally to travel through such a beautiful region? The Southern Cross Safari is a new rally coordinated by Rally the Globe which was set to allow competitors to discover new land, teeming game reserves and experience the best of what Kenya and Tanzania have on offer. The winner of the rally was a vintage class entrant, the Bentley 4½ Litre of Keith and Norah Ashworth.
Keith and Norah have owned their Bentley 4½ Litre for two years and have competed in ten rallies with the car in that period. East Africa didn’t make the rally for Keith and Norah Ashworth easy-going, the weather was extremely unstable, switching from dusty tracks to bogs in a heartbeat. When asked about the conditions of the rally, Keith noted that the rally was so enduring that “there were a lot of points on the rally where we thought we would give up”. The poor weather wasn’t the most challenging part of the rally however, there were numerous slippery switchbacks and tight sections of track with loam that would be sure to unsettle most cars. At the end of each day of strenuous work wrestling the cars to their final destination, the competitors were greeted by the top-notch safari lodges.
The Bentley has been prepped for numerous rallies over the past few years by the Vintage Bentley team to allow Keith and Norah to have the most seamless rallying experience possible. It has received an engine upgrade, a twin fuel pump upgrade, reinforced shock absorbers, uprated springs and a set of new wheels and tyres to help tackle the East African environment, all performed by the Vintage Bentley team. Keith did make many of his own preparations before the rally to aid reliability and keep the team as competitive as possible. Any spare parts were organised in the vehicle, allowing him to perform a swift repair if necessary.
Keith and his Bentley are no neophyte to rallying. He has taken it across the world on rallies and has covered many miles over his years of ownership with the car, and claims that the Bentley “has been extremely reliable, especially considering how hard we push it!”. Keith and Norah have ambitious plans for the Bentley too! The duo hopes to participate in the Highland Thistle rally in October and the Ypres to Istanbul Challenge. The Bentley performed flawlessly, along with its pilot and navigator for the course of the Southern Cross Safari. They finished with an overall penalty time of 0:02:46, placing them first in class and first overall. Keith says “I am not surprised at how well the Bentley handled the rally, but I am surprised at how good we were. The
rally was a lot more difficult than we hoped it would be. It was supposed to be a fairly easy event but due to the weather over the previous months the roads were terrible”. The team overcame many hurdles and fought every challenge that Kenya and Tanzania had to throw at them, and in the midsts of it, beat numerous modern challengers. When asked how to sum up the team’s experience on the Southern Cross Rally, Keith quipped “surprisingly good! We didn’t expect to win. We were aiming to come second in class, so to come first overall was unbelievable! The event was tough on the car and the occupants but proved to be a great experience”.