By ABDUL SIDI
African Rally Championship contenders head for the KCB Safari Rally, one of the toughest rounds of the FIA-sanctioned continental circuit.
While Kenya may have lost its chances of winning the ARC title for the first time since 1984, it still remains in the forefront of the championship for the two of the most favorable drivers from outside the country.
Gary Chanyes of Cote d’Ivoire and Mohamed Essa of Zambia have no choice but to participate in the Safari Rally with the aim of scoring maximum ARC points knowing outright victory may be out of the reach in an event considered very tough.
Jaspreet Chatthe, the sole Kenyan to have registered for the ARC series, has been one of the most astounding drivers to have hit the current series following his good performance in parts of the continental and especially his maiden ARC victory in Tanzania.
Though lying third in the series with 58 points and a maximum of 50 points to score from the last two events, the Kibos-based driver’s chances of winning the title may have disappeared after failing to score in Uganda.
He has to win the last two rounds and hope two his contenders fail to score points in the final events.
The Ivorian has 103 points followed by Essa with 93 with two more rounds of the series remaining (Kenya and Madagascar).
Rajbir Rai, who registered his first ever rally victory in the Nakuru Rally recently, caused another major surprise in the Uganda Rally where he stormed to victory by winning the round of the ARC in his Mitsubishi Lancer at his first attempt in an event outside Kenya.
He snatched the win from under the nose of Chanyes in the final competitive of the event after the later had held the lead for almost entire period of the competition.
EIGHT COMPETITIVE STAGES
“Kenyan drivers are doing extremely well, especially Rai and Jaspreet Chatthe who have taken the ARC by storm. Chatthe won in Tanzania and now Rai in Uganda. Safari Rally is next and we hope to see more of the thrills,” said Surinder Thatthi, FIA Vice President for Africa.
Apart from Rai, other Kenyans who did well included Denis Mwenda and Edward Njoroge, who finished top in the Formula Two Class by finishing 11th overall in their first-ever rally outside the country, driving a Toyota Corolla.
Nanyuki will be the centre stage for the Safari Rally with action in the remaining eight competitive stages where Baitain View will remain as the sole spectator stage open to the public while others are closed for safety reasons.
The stage will be tackled on four different occasions – once on Friday, twice on Saturday and once on Sunday.
Courtesy of nation.co.ke