NAIROBI, Kenya October 16 – Veteran rider Franco Checchni and Vincent Boulanger emerged triumphant in the B2 and B3 classes during FIM Africa Cross Country Team Championship in Soysambu Sunday as would be entrants Zambian and South African riders watched the proceedings from the periphery.
Kenya Captain Sean Pelling was happy with a great result for Kenya which confirmed our East African dominance in the off road scene but commiserated with the Southerners.
“Very sad that the South Africa and Zambia logistics dictated they couldn’t compete – we were relishing the challenge given months of training and I am sure it would have been a close run contest! The track was fantastic from open high speed tracks to technical rocky climbs to deep river crossings. It was a very professional set up and a huge thank you to all the helpers and spectators. Well done to my Kenyan team, “said Pelling.
Gillian Dykes of South Africa was evidently frustrated but nonetheless excited to scrap up acquaintance with the rest of the pack at the serene venue.
But on realization that their participation had suddenly come a cropper, they compelled their truck driver to return down south.
Kenya, who entered 37 riders, won the Team Championship followed by Tanzania and Uganda.
Shaun Miller won B1 class (for bikes up to 200cc 2-stoke and 250 4- stroke) followed by compatriot Tutu Maina and Tanzanian Gifty Mshanga.
Kenyans swept the over 46years – B4 Masters Class with Ian Duncan clinching top honors followed by the event’s oldest rider Jorgen Nielsen, 57, while Peter Kinyua sealing the podium dash for the oldies.
Per Bjerre of Tanzania won the B6 Seniors Class (38years) beating the Kenya duo of Harry Guelker and Tej Sehmi.
B8 class for lady bikers went to 16 year old Rebekker Bjerre from Tanzania while Chantal Young of Kenya scooped the accolades of the best ladies quad rider in B9 class.
Checchni sounded quite febrile and showered the organizers with praise for an event well planned. “I was preoccupied with lots of physical exercises including sit ups and jogging ahead of it and I’m glad it paid off handsomely,” said Checchni.
Vincent Boulanger rode his Can-Am Renegade machine quite aggressively and it was by sheer determination that he was able to chalk up the B3 quads class win.
The commendable feat saw him vanquish reigning Cross Country Kenya Champion Shazar Anwar (Bombardier 650) who settled for 2nd position.
Asked about his approach on the rigors of Soysambu, Boulanger was all smiles, saying: “The event’s organization was up to scratch but I must acknowledge the fact that the race was quite technical and tiresome. The initial idea was to get fit and have good machine. But it’s really disappointing that not a single international quad class rider competed in the quads class,” said Boulanger.
Third placed Shivam described his ride on the expansive farm fields a really “tough undertaking”.
“The track changed each lap with all the machines going over. Challenging for a win resulted into bike gremlins on the bike in the last lap, so I lost 10 minutes and finished 3rd overall,” said Shivam.
But all in all, the FIM Africa event gave spectators some great river crossing moments with which some riders found themselves in tricky situations, falling off their bikes, picked themselves up again to complete the endurance run of 5 hours.
Checchini rode a trouble-free race to finish first overall in B2 with Shivam having to contend with third overall.
It was dream come true for Checchni who returned from a seven year sabbatical to rule the roost in awesome fashion. Checchni could hardly conceal his joy and readily admitted the win has re-ignited his passion for the sport.
Checchni was quick to point out that his high notch preparation tactics that included jogging, sit-ups and an intensive gym workout coupled with a trouble free run gave him the upper edge over his competitors.
Shivam’s 3rd overall was well within his pre-planned podium finish.
Shivam has had joyous moments’ before on his bike, but the University of Nairobi dentistry student is desirous to go back to the drawing board and rediscover his winning ways.