BY SAMSON ATEKA
Rising star Rajbir Rai will lead over 50 drivers in this weekend’s KCB Rally in Eldoret. Rai, whom is the son of the legendary two-time Kenya champion Sarabjit ‘Sarbi’ Rai, will be the first one off the ramp in a Ford Fiesta R5 and navigated by Tim Challen.
Rajbir, who won Nakuru Rally and the Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally last year, will be attempting to emulate his father’s feat of winning outright in Eldoret.
Sarbi won the Sportsman Eldoret Rally in 1994, navigated by the current KMSF Rallies Commission chairman Dr Supee Soin in a Toyota G14.
Tigoni-based Quentin Mitchell is seeded second and will be navigated by Thomas Taylor in a Skoda Fabia S2000.
Mitchell will become the first ever Kenyan driver to start Eldoret Rally in a S2000 car alongside Nikhil Sachania in Fiat Abarth Grande Punto S2000 and Alastair Cavenagh in a Proton Neo Satria S2000.
Winner of Kajiado Rally Ian Duncan takes off in third position followed by Nakuru duo of Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo and Onkar Rai. Due to reliability problems, Tundo is selling his Proton and will be driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9 in Eldoret. Defending Kenya champion Baldev Chager is seeded sixth followed by current KNRC leader Jaspreet Chatthe.
Family rivalry will also take centre stage in Eldoret with “Flash” Tundo taking on his father Frank and sister Natasha. Another member from the Chatthe family —Dilraj—is brimming with confidence ahead of his planned KNRC debut this weekend.
“I am really excited to make my KNRC debut in an EVOX R4 machine. My co-driver is none other than the multiple ARC navigators champion Dave Sihoka from Zambia.
“The feeling is good, obviously very excited to finally turn 18 and be allowed to rally. I’m really looking forward to the rally weekend.
“However, I realize a big challenge lies ahead for me. I have not yet driven the car hence it will take me some time and kilometres to come to grips with it and to add to the challenge, the car is a left hand drive.
He said he is not able to test the car before the rally due to other commitments. “For me, this rally is about getting to the finish and gaining valuable experience and improving my times consistently. Thankfully, I have someone as experienced as Dave sitting alongside me and I have a team of experts from MML in the UK preparing my car hence I know I have the best tools at my disposal. John Easton the ex-Mitsubishi World Rally team MD and current owner of MML will also be here to mentor me and share his valuable experience,” said Dilraj Chatthe. Amaanraj Singh Rai will also take on his elder sibling Rajbir.
“The route looks technical and we are hoping for the best. I am sitting with Kavit Dave for the first time and I hope for a good rally,” Amaanraj said.
Natasha Tundo said: “I’m really excited about getting to try Flourspar out. My biggest challenge is always trying to really compete against the men in my family. However, I have a long way to go before that happens (haha)! So just making a name for myself in a man’s world is what I’d like to achieve first.”
Alastair Cavenagh is seeded 12th and is hoping to secure another strong finish in Eldoret where he has won twice.
“I’m using the Proton this weekend and hoping to get another good finish with it. Hopefully, we can slowly get more reliability out of the car and only then consider selling it,” said Alastair.
2WD class has attracted a number of Toyotas including Eric Bengi (RunX), Sammy Nyorri (RunX), Leonardo Varese (Corrolla RSI), Alex Lairang’I (Sprinter GT), Geoff Mayes (Levin), Bhupinder “Raju” Sagoo (Ceres 1600cc) and VW Golf MK3 driver Gurmit Thethy.
“We have assessed our risks and evaluated the capability of the car and plan to take this event very easy. We hope the altitude will be favourable although we plan to deliver the baby home in a good class position. It’s important for us to score some points in this rally after the mishap in Voi,” said Bengi.
1. Rajbir Rai/Tim Challen (Ford Fiesta R5)
2. Quentin Mitchell/ (Skoda Fabia S2000)
3. Ian Duncan/ (Evolution X)
4. Carl Tundo/Tim Jessop (Evo 9)
5. Onkar Rai/Gareth Dawe (Evo X)
6. Boldy Chager/ (Evo X)
7. Jassi Chatthe (Evo X)
8. Manvir Baryan/ (Evolution X)
9. T. Laukkannen/Pasi Torma (Sub R4)
10. Raaji Bharij/Jasneil S. Ghataure (Evo X)
11. Jas Mangat/Cedric Buzabo (Evolution X)
12. Alastair Cavenagh/G. Laurence (Proton Neo S2000)
13. Karan Patel/Tauseef Khan (Evo X)
Courtesy of the-star.co.ke