BY SAMSON ATEKA
Rajbir Rai navigated by Timothy Challen in a Mitsubishi EVOX became the first Kenyan to win the prestigious Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally as action came to a dramatic end in Kampala over the weekend.
The son of legendary two-time former Kenya Rally Champion Sarbi Rai, won Uganda’s biggest motorsport event by two seconds from Ivory Coast champion Gary Chaynes in the last stage of the rally.
Prior to Rajbir’s fairy tale victory, there was a big fight pitting him with Chaynes and 2012 champion Essa Mohammed who settled for third position.
Chaynes led the proceeding at After SS6 with 16 seconds from Rai. But the tides changed in favour of the Kenyan youngster in the last competitive section. After completing a 522km route in districts of Wakiso and Luweero, the 24-year-old Kenyan driver finished best in his Mitsubishi Evo X within a best provisional time of three hours, two minutes and 45 seconds.
Despite being Rai’s maiden Pearl Rally win, the Jinja based-Kenyan youngster proved his supremacy at high level competitions as he beat the more superior Ivorian driver.
Chaynes, however, came ahead of 2012 champion Zambian Mohammed Essa who finished third in 3:03.18. Chaynes’ fourth podium finish in six events ensured he remained top of the Africa Rally Championship (ARC) standings with 101 points. Essa, who led into the final leg on Saturday, is still second.
The rally which counted towards the sixth round of the FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) saw some of the big boys fall by the wayside.
Kenya’s Jassi Chatthe, who is registered to score points for the ARC went out at CS5 after going off-road and damaging his EVOX.
Chatthe, who skipped the Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally was the winner of Rally of Tanzania in Dar-es-Salaam two months back.
Reigning Kenya 2WD champion Dennis Mwenda won the 2WD class and finished second in the supplementary rally navigated by Edward Njoroge.
Day 1 of rally proved to be the toughest round of this year’s Africa Championship as drivers battled the wet slippery track in the first two sections in Matugga on Friday.
Defending champion crew of Jas Mangat navigated by Natasha Di Cangio in a Mistubishi Evo10 were the first casualty in the top crew as their machine developed gearbox failure in the second section, leaving Kenyan crew of Jaspreet Chatthe in a Mistubishi Evo10 to lead the opening day after posting 24 minutes 43 seconds. Rai surprised many as he emerged best at the two-day event.
Only 23 drivers completed the event that attracted 41 crews. Omar Mayanja was the best among the Ugandan drivers as he finished fifth overall in 3:19:24. Arthur Blick was sixthahead of Rwanda’s Christakis Fitidis.
1. Rajbir Rai (Ken) 3:02:45
2: Garry Chynes (Civ) 3:02:47
3. Mohammed Essa (Zam) 3:03:18
4. Manvir Baryan (Ken) 3:18:33
5. Omar Mayanja (Uga) 3:19:24
6. Arthur Blick (Uga) 3:20:43
7. Christakis Fitidis (Rwa) 3:31:39
8. Giancarlo Davite (Rwa) 3:36:22
9. Wilbert Pole Pole (Uga) 3:46:04
10. Musa Kabega (Uga) 3:46:32
11. Denis Mwenda (Uga) 3:49:24
12. Ahmed Ashraf(Uga) 3:58:48
13. Susan Muwonge (Uga) 3:59:29
14. Jon Consta (Uga) 4:00:01
15. Duncan Mubiru (Uga) 4:10:41
16. Leila Mayanja (Uga) 4:19:31
17. Ismail Ortega (Uga) 4:20:02
18. John Burrows (Uga) 4:23:09
19. Edson Mungyereza (Uga) 4:25:30
20. Abaas Mayinja (Uga) 4:27:13
21. Fred Senkumba (Uga) 4:29:18
22. Ismail Waligo (Uga) 4:33:08
23. Eddie Mukiibi (Uga) 4:41:43
Courtesy of the-star.co.ke