BY SAMSON ATEKA

Finn rally ace Tapio Laukkanen was left to rue a service error which cost him victory in the 63rd KCB Safari Rally 2015.

After leading the Safari up till the first half of the last day, Tapio laid the blame squarely on his service crew for failing to appear at Loldaiga Gate roadside service when he checked in.

Tapio had limped out of Kabirichia stage with a broken rear right arm and managed to nurse his R4 Subaru Impreza to the roadside service at Loldaiga Gate, only to realise that his service team had not even left the main service at Meru Teachers Training Institute.

A crestfallen Tapio said all other service vans were at the roadside point but wondered why his crew failed to bring the parts when they were required. “I have never seen anything like this before. They had all the parts, but there were just not there,” fumed Tapio, adding: “We broke the rear arm in the third section of the day. We got into the service limping but unfortunately we didn’t have the right parts,” said Tapio.

The Finn, who won the opening leg of the Kenyan National Rally Championship in Kisumu, started the final day of Safari with a massive 5.49 minutes lead from Kenyan Jassi Chatthe and appeared well on course for a maiden Safari diadem.

“It’s a big disappointment I must say, because today we were really cruising well and had a big lead,” added Tapio. Day Three of the rally proved quite unforgiving to some top crews as Safari lived up to its reputation as the world’s tightest rally. Another top driver to kiss the event goodbye was Skoda Fabia’s Quentin Mitchell with a broken rear suspension at a fast right corner on the CS10 Meru Forest stage. Izhar Mirza was out with gearbox problems.

The only all-ladies crew of Natasha Tundo and Chantal Young were forced out with clutch problems on the 13km Kabirichia stage. Also out were the Oilibya racing crew of Farhaaz Khan and Riyaz Ismail with electrical problems.

Youngster Karan Patel, who has enjoyed the top 10 in the last two days, had to contend with turbo gremlins coming into main service in Meru. Karan who is the KNRC S and Division 3 champion has since upgraded from Subaru GC8 to Mitsubishi Evolution X.

Courtesy of the-star.co.ke

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