ramp africa rally

East African Safari Rally loading ramps from The Ramp People

Last updated on February 17th, 2020 at 12:21 pm

We received great feedback from a client in need of loading ramps for an adventure of a life time! Read his detailed account of the rally and how we were able to help make the race a success;

About the Rally

After the loss of the Safari Rally from the World Rally Championship in 2002, rally enthusiasts decided to recreate the nostalgia of “The Safari” with the East African Safari Rally. The idea was to allow classic cars originally manufactured before 1974, and to avoid the powerful turbo charged and four wheel drive cars. The stages or sections would be longer and the service crews and back up would be limited, just like the early days. 
The first East African Safari was planned and ran in December of 2003 with 53 entries it ran through Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania – over a distance of 5000 Kilometres in ten days. The event runs every two years, and such has been the success of the East African Classic Safari, the entries numbers increase at each event. The last event had a record 63 entries, with no less than 16 different countries being represented. 
The Driver

Andrew Siddall, the CEO was to take part in what Motoring News called “the most exacting test for man and machine yet devised in the world of rallying”. Andrew has competed in previous safari rallies; however a huge amount of physical and mental preparation has been necessary to enable him to compete on such demanding roads, in temperatures you would only welcome whilst relaxing on a beach. 

Andrew has a history in rallying from starting out some years ago in a Vauxhall Nova, and more recently having success on events such as The Silver Fern, Sol Rally Barbados, Rally Isle of Man and Omloop Van Vlaanderen (to name a few) in his historic Mk1 and Mk2 Ford Escorts. 

The Car

The immaculate, six cylinder Datsun 260Z Andrew owned, had been newly prepared to withstand such a demanding event. The original 1972 road car was fully stripped to a bare shell, strengthened, and modified to be eligible to compete. Modifications include a full weld in roll cage, snap-off steering wheel, bucket seats, safety harnesses, and up-rated mechanical components such as engine, gearbox, differential, brakes and suspension. Although the up-rated suspension, gravel wheels and tyres provide a huge amount of ground clearance, the car is heavily protected underneath with sump and diff guards, and of course with mandatory safety equipment such as a master cut off switch and plumbed-in fire extinguisher system. 
Creature comforts are limited to a seat cushion, drinks bottle and a roof scoop – the roof scoop is the only form of cooling as the cars are limited in terms of equipment, power, and modifications. In short, if rally or production road cars weren’t fitted with an accessory in period, they cannot be now; so as to make a more level playing field. 

The safari rally is very demanding on the cars and crew; as such rally teams typically have a chase vehicle, and a larger service vehicle to support the car at designated service intervals en route. Although this sounds ideal, it is far from the workshop environment mechanics require to repair precision components quickly – here’s is where the container helps.

The rally cars travel to East Africa in 20ft containers, which after being unloaded would sit unused until the return journey – so why not convert the container into a purpose made workshop that could be transported around the event on the back of a lorry? 
Sam Thompson set about designing and converting a standard 20ft shipping container into a workshop in his spare time, in Halifax, West Yorkshire. A design specification was finalised with Dansport, the team who prepare and maintain the car, and a CAD model created to maximise the space for equipment.

Visually the CAD model was useful in finalising the specification with Dansport, ensuring the car would fit and be able to drive up onto the top of the workbenches. The software Sam uses to design medical equipment for his day job also enabled him to test the strength of the work benches, ensuring they would be strong enough to take at least 1400kg of rally car.

Over a period of six months a standard container was transformed to include: 

  • Work benches, which also carry the rally car (comprising of over 100 metres of tube!) 
  • Ramp carriers 
  • Generator with custom exhaust 
  • 12 volt lighting system with leisure battery (the team can work at night with no need to start the generator) 
  • 230 volt lighting system 
  • 230 volt hook up for external lights 
  • Water resistant double sockets 
  • Tyre machine 
  • Compressor and plumbed in air system 
  • Tyre rack (to store 20 wheels and tyres) 
  • Four storage cabinets for tools and precision equipment 
  • Secure caged area and a safe for high value items 
  • Wall mounted cages to store mechanical components 
  • Fan to move hot air out of the container 
  • Hammock (everyone deserves a power nap!) 
  • Non-slip floor 
  • Robust set of height adjustable stairs
  • Loading ramps, supplied by The Ramp People

Here are some photos from the prestigious event;

rally car ramp


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