By PETER NJENGA
Nairobi, Kenya, April 14, 2018—In 1997 WRC 555 Safari Rally, Polish ace Sobieslaw Zasada, navigated by his wife of then 45 years (now 64), Ewa Goworoska Zasada in a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO III finished 12th overall at an advanced age of 67 years old.
Zasada first came to Kenya in 1969 aged 38 and finished 6th in a Porsche 911 co-driven by Marek Wachowski. In 1972 he finished second driving a Porsche 911 together with Bień Marian behind Hannu Mikola, the first overseas driven to win the Safari in a Ford Escort 1600RS. This gave Europeans a 1-2 finish in the Safari which had been dominated by locals since inception in 1953.
He finished sixth 1978 in a bulky 1,700g Mercedes Benz 280 E co-driven by Blazej Kruppa. They retired the following year.
In February 1952 he won his first rally, with co-driver Ewa – a classmate from Adam Asnyk High School in Bielsko-Biala, southern Poland. The two married in the December of the same year.
Folklore has it that Zasada was so much focused in catching Mikola somewhere in Uganda that when he arrived at control point hot on the heels of Mikola who was about the exit, he forgot about Bien and chased Mikola. Soon he overtook Mikola who didn’t bother to chase him as his navigator Gunnar Palm had witnessed the drama unfold.
Realising his mistake 15km later, Zasada, the author of the book Safe Speed, Safari (2004), told this writer in 1997 that no sooner had he created a gap did he realise his mistake when he tried to pat Marian and his hand landed on an empty seat. He stopped and took a U turn back to the control and in the process lost invaluable time.
Sobiesław Zasada won more than 50 rallies worldwide.
Serves as chairman of the Supervisory Board of Sobiesław Zasada SA, professionally active in important matters in the Group’s companies.