SHIELD OF AFRICA 1998


SHIELD OF AFRICA 1998

Starting and finishing in Cape Town, the Shield of Africa was a 21-day event through the six countries of southern Africa. It covered 12,500 kms over back roads and remote areas taking in 44 timed stages.

Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and the tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho gave the 72 competitors a unique insight into the stunning scenery, primitive life styles and great opportunities to see the wild game Africa is famous for.

The event attracted drivers from 15 countries and competition was fast and furious over the gravel stages. Panama-Alaska winner Aussie Rick Bates in his Porsche 911 set the pace hounded by the nimble Escorts of John Lloyd and Mike Corns.

Norm Fritter in his bellowing Australian Ford Falcon was a sight to behold trailing huge dust clouds in his wake while Kenyan champion Alastair Cavenagh in his Escort traded blows with Austrian Willi Polesznig in his Porsche.

Rest days at Victoria Falls with bungee jumping and white water rafting for the more adventurous and more relaxing days in the famed Kruger game reserve were welcome reliefs from the hard edge of competition.

Bates lead the rally for the first ten days before an electrical fault stopped him in mid stage resulting in massive penalties. Charging from the back of the field he continued to record stage wins in dramatic fashion eventually winning 36 of the 44 stages to finish a modest 11th as the result of his time penalty.

There was high drama in the tiny kingdom of Lesotho which erupted into a mini war zone the morning the rally was due to leave Maseru. We’d been given advance notice of the action and told to have the event on the road before 06.30 which was when the incoming South African troops would arrive in helicopter gunships to disperse local rebels who were armed and angry.

Midst distant gunfire and the rumble of incoming tanks the entry high tailed out of the capital and that evening watched the CNN coverage of the one day war from the safety of our hotel in Durban. Another TWE first – a rally through a war zone.

Willi Polesznig in his Porsche won after a dramatic tussle over the final three days with Norm Fritter’s Falcon, Fritter blowing his diff on the penultimate day.

There were six different nationalities in the top ten and the survivors drove into a magnificent reception with enthusiastic crowds and bands playing to welcome them on Cape Town’s Waterfront. A fitting end to an epic 21-day adventure.

South African M-net TV covered the event with five 20-minute programmes and the event was acclaimed as South Africa’s’ most successful motor sport event since the days when Formula One Grand Prix happened at Kyalami.

Top Ten finishers on the event were :

Pos Crew Nat Car Total Penalty
1 Willi Polesznig/
Jean Christian Kipp
A/F Porsche 911 12:49:52
2 Alastair Cavenagh/
Adrian Cavenagh
GB/GB Ford Escort 13:12:52
3 Pat Cole/
David Callaghan
AUS/AUS Mercedes 280 13:22:24
4 Rob Rushforth/
David McComb
ZIM/ZIM BMW 2002 13:25:14
5 Mike Corns/
Ana Goni
GB/VEN Ford Escort 13:29:50
6 Graham Lloyd/
Godfrey Everett
AUS/AUS Porsche 911 13:45:32
7 John Hills/
David Hills
AUS/AUS Ford Escort BDA 13:52:56
8 Norm Fritter/
Bryan Price
AUS/AUS Ford Falcon 13:56:52
9 Janos Balazs/
Andras Jojart
HUN/HUN Porsche 911 14:15:26
10 Phil Hooper/
Alan Stean
GB/AUS Datsun 240Z 14:16:09

For the whole exciting story of the event, results and day-by day bulletins plus each competitor's own story, read the SHIELD OF AFRICA - THE BOOK. Copies available from the Rally Office. See our Books and Videos page.