NAIROBI, October 2 – Veteran rally driver Aslam Khan of the WRC Safari Rally has acquired the services of his niece and newcomer Samira Khan as he seeks to scoop the Classic Car Cup competition where he leads the pack with 97 points.
Ms Samira, who is a pilot with Kenya Airways, replaces her own cousin Farhaaz after a series of recce’s and test drives with his uncle. She went round the steep ascents and descents of Ngong’ top two months ago and found the going it quite fascinating.
“I am really looking forward to it. I really enjoyed every bit of it during the test drive and wished it could have been a lot faster,” Ms Samira who turns 30 in November said.
The KCB Savings and Loan rally will be held on Sunday,October 5.
She also accompanied the ALS Rally Team crew at the expansive farm fields in Ol-Pejeta Conservancy and Mogotio and had a great experience on the picturesque terrain.
“We also went round the quarry farm in Athi River and I was learning the ropes perfectly well,” Ms Samira quipped.
The KQ pilot was emphatic as she gave an account of her new cockpit experience in the rally car.
“It was quite easy on recce and very slow compared to the real rallying stuff. Piloting planes is totally different from navigating. There is no more manual navigation in planes these days as we use GPS and onboard computers. When you fly, you see long distances but the line of sight in rally cars is quite narrow and exciting because there are fans all over the place to enjoy the proceedings. It quite exciting in the rally car because you get to feel the car’s speed unlike while airborne,” she said.
Mr Khan only needs three points to become the champion of the new series barely a month after his nephew Farhaaz Khan sealed the navigators title during the KCB Easy Pay Loan Rally in Nanyuki.
In the meantime, Mr Khan is having a thorough-look-through of their Ford Escort RS at their Wilson Airpiort’s ALS workshop.
With two days left to the event more than 30 drivers are preparing to do battle for points in this weekends KCB S&L Rally set for Oltepesi and Olepolos areas on Sunday.
This weekend’s rally will define more how the season is going to shape up as the drivers attempt to consolidate their points on the table standings.
The round, organized by Kenya Motor Sports Club (KMSC) will be flagged off outside KCB Kawangware Branch in Nairobi from 8.30am with a 63km liaison distance to Oltepesi for a fuel-service-only stop.
Rally Director Jim Kahumbura said the route looks fine after a rigorous survey spearheaded by Clerk of the Course Kulwinder Sandhu.
The third stage between Kipeto-Corner Baridi (23.60km) was last used during the 1996 WRC Safari Rally event then synonymous with heavy floods. The first stage Oltepesi-Ntulele Junction (39.70km) will be repeated twice and so will the 52.20km Najile-Olepolos stretch which is the longest stage. The Oltepesi route was last used in April during the season opening KCB Simba Savings Rally.
Mr Kahumbura added that the nature of the long endurance stages is expected to put drivers’ endurance and skill under check as the hunt for points continues in earnest.
Baldev Chager, the “Flying Singh”, hopes to consolidate his lead and improve his chances of claiming a maiden KCB-KNRC title. Mr Chager had been chasing Triton Sports teammate Lee Rose the whole day in Nanyuki during the KCB Easy Pay Loan Rally but felt a strange sense of nostalgia when news got to him about Mr Lee’s fuel pump failure. The win in Nanyuki gave Chager a sixth KNRC career win.
This launched him into the top spot and also gave him a decent point 100-gap between him and Carl Tundo. With 240 points at stake, Mr Chager now leads the KCB KRNC with 355 points and is anticipated to seal it with some rounds to spare if the same tempo is maintained.
Charles Hinga will be hoping to maintain his dogged campaign for the 2WD national title as he faces a stiff challenge from the likes of Leo Varese (VW Golf) and Leamy Karienye. Mr Hinga who had to contend with third overall at last month’s KCB Easy Pay Loan Rally in Nanyuki will become the first rookie winner in the 2WD category.
The Classic Car Cup is also anticipated to provide fireworks behind the scenes. With a maximum 60 points more, leader Aslam Khan needs a second overall position in Oletepesi to seal the title introduced this season. He may as well seal it if Ian Duncan fails to take part in the Classic category.