NAIROBI, Kenya, February 3 – Thirty drivers will compete in the first round of this year’s Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Kenya National Rally Championships (KNRC) which will be held on Sunday in Eldoret and Iten.Reigning champion Baldev Chager and teammate and 2008 runner up Lee Rose will however be absent from the Biashara Banking rally after their main sponsor Triton was put under receivership after it was embroiled in a financial scandal.
“Lee and Piers (Daykin) wanted to convey their apologies to their competitors and all the fans that they cannot make this rally because of the Triton saga,” said Lee’s father John Rose.
“We have to watch our budget and we decided to skip these rally because we want to keep the resources we have for Safari Rally,” said John who is also the chairman of the Rift Valley Motor Sports Club.
Veteran Azar Anwar who will be racing in a new Mitsubishi EVO 8 on Sunday told Capital Sport that the withdrawal of Chager and Lee is a big blow to the championship.
“The KNRC is not going to be the same without Boldy (Chager) and Lee Rose who is without doubt the fastest driver in Kenya and I pray that they can quickly come back in to the championship because they add so much value to it,” said Azar who was voted 2008 Kenya Motor Sport Personality of the Year.
Another veteran rally driver Alastair Cavenagh who is piloting a Mitsubishi EVO 9 will be first of the ramp with teammate while 2007 champion Carl Tundo will roll off in third position in his quest to regain the championship.
Azar’s younger brother Asad who will be competing in a Subaru Impreza N11 is sandwiched between Cavenagh and Tundo in second position while Azar will be fourth off the ramp.
Two wheel drive defending champion Leonardo Varese who drives a Volkswagen Golf GTI will roll off the ramp in third position behind Jasmeet Chana and Charles Hinga.
“Our target this year is to retain the championship and also hope to better in this round than last year,” said Varese who is navigated by Kigondu Kareithi.
The 236 km rally which will be flagged off outside the KCB Eldoret West Branch consists of the View- Singore, Bugar- Chabara, Chebiemit – Elgeyo Forest and Kamukio- Chepkinoyo legs which will be repeated twice with the finish at Iten.
The route will pass in trough the picturesque Cherangani Hills and Kerio Valley which used to be challenging spot for drivers during the heady days of the Safari Rally when it was part of the World Rally Championship (WRC).