By ABDUL SIDI
Baldev Chager retained the KCB Safari Rally title after a brilliant race in this year’s event that concluded Sunday in Nanyuki.
Chager, in a Mitsubishi Evo10 and navigated by Ravi Soni, led from start to finish over three days, to win one of the toughest rounds of the African Rally Championship, which also doubles up as a KCB Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) series leg.
“It is fantastic to win the rally for the second time in a row. I’m very happy. It was a tough rally although I count myself lucky that I was not affected by any major problems like my rivals,” said Chager.
Chager’s main challenger was Carl Tundo in a Proton s2000, but the latter’s ambitions of winning a fifth Safari Rally were hampered by a puncture on the second day. Tundo held on for second spot with his long term friend and navigator, Tim Jessop.
Eric Bengi and Tony Gikuhi won the Formula Two Class after finishing in the 24th place in a Toyota RunX.
Alasdair Keith and Tariq Malik finished in 16th place in a Subaru Impreza to win the Group S Class followed by the National Oil-sponsored pair of Hussein Malik and George Mwangi in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo8.
Malik and and Mwangi finished in 19th overall.
Kenya National Rally Series champion Baldev Chager and Ravi Soni power their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10 uphill on the second day of the Safari Rally.
The best placed Ugandan driver was Duncan Mubiru with seventh place in a Subaru Impreza N16, while the youthful Karan Patel was ninth in a Subaru Impreza.
Another young crew of Ronak Shah and Riyaz Ismail, also in a Subaru Impreza, finished 10th. Mahesh Halai and Mahesh Halai were 12th place in yet another Subaru Impreza.
The three-day event, which was flagged off by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday morning from Kenyatta International Conference Centre, claimed almost half of the competitors with only 35 cars making to the finish ramp.
With no major incidents or accidents reported, event organisers are now looking at FIA officials to a give favourable report to help the Safari Rally reclaim the World Rally Championship status it lost in 2003.
“The improvement on the organisation is 10 times better than what I saw last year. The organisers have done a good job and they now need to keep the same format for the rest of the KNRC series. Kenya has proved that closed stages are available,” said Muna Singh, an FIA observer.
“As sponsors we are very proud of the drivers for their commitment. The organisers have done very well to take the sport to the highest level,” said Joshua Oigara, KCB Group CEO.
Courtesy of nation.co.ke