BY SAMSON ATEKA
Baldev Chager and his partner Tim Jessop won their second career Safari, albeit early morning scares from Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo as the Kenyan round of the FIA African Rally Championship concluded at Batian View on the foothills of Mount Kenya.
Second overall in a Proton S2000 was Tundo with Manvir Baryan completing the podium after trailing Chager by a massive 4.53 miunutes.
After the big guns retired in the last two days of the competition, the chase for the coveted title was reduced to a two-horse race pitting Chager and Tundo.
The biggest loser was ARC leader Ivorian Gary Chaynes, who failed to seal the continental title at penultimate stage, after he retired with mechanical problems in the notorious Loldaiga Hills, a real giant killer in the Safari.
Kenya’s Baryan was the winner of ARC category and the sole finisher in the continental series for that matter.
Safari woes for Chaynes means the ARC title goes down to the wire with the Ivorian leading with 101 and Essa Mohammed who pulled out of the 11th hour still second on 93. The last ARC rally is Madagascar International Rally in November.
Youngster Karan Patel won the ‘S’ Class after returning his ex-Chager Subaru GC8 in 9th overall position. Jonathan Somen in a Ford Escort, MK2 won the Classic Cup while Eric Bengi in a Toyota RunX won the 2WD class.
Chager was forced to fight in every nook and cranny by their challengers and they managed to hold-off hard- charging Tundo by a 1.11 minutes margin.
With an apparent insatiable hunger for success, Tundo set the quickest times on the repeat run of the tormenting long Loldaiga stage where he beat Chager by over a minute. But Chager vanquished all his fears when he checked into last service at Batian View to savour a second straight Safari diadem.
Such was the resilience and tension-filled affair that punctuated the 62nd edition of the ‘world’s toughest rally’.
Thousands of spectators, who turned up at the Batian View in Nanyuki including Laikipia County governor Joshua Irungu were treated to some exhilarating and hair-raising driving.
Fourth overall was Quentin Mitchell while 60-year-old Azar Anwar came 5th.
“We are happy to race on stages where there were no oncoming traffic or people or anything on the road. A few times we came across animals, elephants and antelopes running across the road, so it was a totally different experience. It means we were much more relaxed in the stages and concentrate on driving. Unfortunately, the car gave us a bit of trouble on the first and second day. We had problems with the inter-coms but we managed to hang in there,” said Azar.
Quentin savoured his first drive in a Scoda Fabia S2000 on his maiden partnership with a new navigator Nicolas Camara. The event which counted towards the 6th round of the Kenya National Rally Championship and the seventh in the ARC was co-sponsored by ALS, ICEA Lion, Iway Africa, Securex, Galleria Shopping Mall and Yana Tyres. Kisumu hosts the next round of the KNRC in mid next month.
1. Baldev Chager/Ravi Soni (EVOX) 02:47.13
2. Carl Tundo/Tim Jessop (Proton) 2:48.24
3. Manvir Baryan/Drew Sturrock (Subaru N16) 2:52.06
4. Quentin Mitchell/Nicholas Camara (Scoda Fabia S2000) 2:52.23
5. Azar Anwar/Julius Ngigi (EVO8) 2:57.27
6. Tejvir Rai/Zahir Shah (EVOX) 3:01.59
7. Duncan Mubiru/Musa Nsubuga (Subaru) 3:02.10
8. Jasmeet Chana/Ravi Chana (EVO9) 3:02.50
9. Karan Patel/Tauseef Khan (Subaru GC8) 3:05.29
10. Ronak Shah/Riyaz Ismail (Subaru N12B) 3:05.49
11. Steven Mwangi/Steve Nyorri (Subaru N10) 3:07.47
12. Mahesh Halai/Ketan Halai (Subaru N12) 3:08.11
13. Imran Mogul/Adnan Din (Subaru N10) 3:09.07
14. Alasdair Keith/Tariq Maliq (Subaru GC8) 3:10.07
15. Amaanraj Rai/Imran Khan (Subaru) 3:10.17
16. Raaji Bharij/Jasneil Ghataure (EVO9) 3:11.23
17. Ghalib Hajee/Bharat Pattni (EVOX) 3:12.08
18. Steve Gacheru/Absalom Aswani (Subaru N10) 3:13.57
19. Hussein Malik/George Mwangi (EVO6) 3:18.14
20. Jonathan Somen/Richard Hechle (Ford Escort MK2) 3:18.31
Courtesy of the-star.co.ke