RENEWAL of the sponsorship contract between Philip Morris and the organisers of the Marlboro Safari Rally caused no great surprise, for both parties appeared to be satisfied with the benefits they derived from the deal over the past three years and outside observers were not expecting any change.

However, within the organisation itself there have been several significant changes, and these may not have been so obvious.

Immediately after the finish of this year’s rally, winning co-driver Mike Doughty announced his retirement from active competition. At the same time, he resigned from his position with a tour company and he is now firmly established as the event’s general manager and chairman of its organising committee, with all the pre-event responsibilities of clerk of the course.

Peter Barnes has returned to assist Mike Doughty, and between them they have already surveyed and mapped the route of the 1983 event. The first leg will be southwards to Mombasa as before, the second circling Mount Kenya in an anti-clockwise direction and the third up into North-Western Kenya.

Another change is right at the helm itself, for Bharat Bhardwaj has resigned his chairmanship of the event’s holding company, and his place has been taken by B11 Parkinson. It was he who pressed hard for the installation of an efficient communications system, which the rally has desperately needed for years, and when this was put into operation last Easter the organisers fowid themselves with a degree of control they had never before experienced. Parkinson has raced and rallied himself, has served on the organising committee and has been responsible for co-ordinating aircraft support for works teams, flying pressurised big twins himself many times. He was in England with compatriot Vic Preston Snr. in July, but a more recent visitor was regional Safari organiser David Morgan from Eldoret.

On previous visits David Morgan gave impromptu talks to motor clubs and this resulted in a three-car private entry by members of Middlesex County AC in the 1982 Safari. In August, he undertook a whole series of such talks and film shows in various parts of the country, and the hope is that more British privateers will come to consider the Safari as a viable proposition and not the strict preserve of the professionals. Details of the event, in particular those in which amateurs will be interested, are available from Marlboro Safari Rally, PO Box 59483, Nairobi, Kenya. — G.P.