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Peerless Tapio stretches Safari lead

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TAPIO-LAUKKANNENMERU, April 5- Finnish driver Tapio Laukkanen navigated by Pasi Torma in a Subaru Impreza R5 was again peerless as Day 2’s Leg 1B of the KCB Safari Rally came to a dramatic end on the 1.7km ASK Meru Showground Super-Special stage.

The former British and Finnish Champion who leads the eight-leg domestic KNRC series went to bed with a massive 5.49minutes lead over Kenya’s Jassi Chatthe but admitted candidly at Meru Teachers Training Institute service park that he will need to tread carefully on the last day Sunday to bag the honours.

Duncan settled for third followed by four-time Safari winner Carl Tundo, Baldev Chager and Quentin Mitchell in that order.

“It was quite a good day. We picked a puncture on the first stage and lost a bit of time; luckily it was in the last 5 kilometres before the end so we drove on it. In the second last stage at Nkunga, we encountered gearbox problems so we took it easy in the last stage at Meru ASK,” the man who built on Day 1’s lead said.

Saturday’s gruelling run which rolled off from KICC Nairobi at 5.30am saw crews cover a gruelling cumulative total of 404km, of which 107km were competitive.

The machines traversed Lengetia in Naro Moru, Loldaiga past Nanyuki town, Ngare Ndare, Nkunga and into Meru where some of the crew found the terrain and challenge unforgiving.

Day 1 in Konza and Machakos had claimed five cars including Mombasa based Harpreet Sagoo who rolled on Lisa Ranch stage.

The casualty list expanded on Saturday with Alfir Khan’s Subaru perishing on the transport road section near Sagana with clutch problems.

Raaji Bharij, who was lying second on day one, was the first major victim when he hit a tree on the 29.75km CS4 Lengetia before Jasmeet Chana retired with transmission failure.

Defending champion Chager was happy with fifth considering some of the scares he had to contend with on Lengetia.

“Just before the first stage we changed the rear diff. Lengetia looked quite dry on the surface but the bottom was somewhat slosh. Loldaiga was okay but with lots of animals. The last two stages the car had mysterious misfires but we were happy to be back,” said Chager.

Provisional Final Day 2

  1. Tapio Laukanen (Subaru) 1:57.37
  2. Jassi Chatthe (EVOX) 2:02.26
  3. Ian Duncan (EVOX) 2:02.55
  4. Carl “Flash”Tundo (Proton) 2:04.03
  5. Baldev Chager (EVOX) 2:04.51
  6. Quentin Mitchell (Skoda Fabia) 2:05.23
  7. Manvir Baryan (Ford Fiesta R5) 2:05.43
  8. Karan Patel (EVOX) 2:06.53
  9. Rajbir Rai (Ford Fiesta R5) 2:07.07
  10. Azar Anwar (EVOX) 2:12.29
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