NAIROBI, Kenya 7th May 2013 – Having acquired the state of art Mitsubishi Evolution X and raring to test the new machine this weekend, time was ripe for former Kenya National Rally Champion (KNRC), Baldev Chager to break with tradition.
‘Baldy’ as he is known in rallying circles showed up at the KCB Voi Rally press briefing and wasted no time to chide enthusiasts of his former trusted brand, Subaru when he said, “To speak the truth, I reckon the Evo is far much faster than the Subaru (Impreza N16) and I know many will not want to hear this.”
Chager who is leading the current KNRC standings is the latest convert to the Evolution revolution in the domestic circuit is raring to put his assertion to test when he takes on a field of 62 drivers in total with 30 competing in the main competition.
A wet and a muddy Voi Rally is on the cards as the Championship enters its third round of the already charged up season.
Charger presence at the brief was a breath of fresh air since top drivers rarely attend. He had a chiding moment with veteran driver Azar Anwar who was also present.
“Am looking forward to Voi, we lead it with a couple of points and with one rally down with I think we have a really good machine, its performing exceptionally well and we have done much more work on it. I think it’s a very competitive car and we will be the car to beat this season.”
Ravi Soni, Dennis Mwenda, James Mwangi, Ben Muchemi, Caroline Gatimu, Eddie Njoroge were among the drivers who were also in attendance.
Set in the heart of elephant country bordering the world famous Tsavo National Park the drivers will be up for tough decisions when it comes to approaching the rainy weather that has heavily pounded the area of late.
Clerk of Course and the man spearheading the organizing team of the Voi Rally, Surinder Thathi said they are keeping a close eye on the weather patterns but hoped the conditions will improve.
“It’s raining heavily in Voi and flooding in the Taveta area. We are concerned it’s going to be very muddy and at the moment Mombasa is also flooded. Hopefully that rain will not get up to Voi.”
Safety concerns was one of the issues that popped up at the briefing following the chaotic Nyeri Rally that saw a mishap that involved veteran rally driver Ian Duncan and his co-driver Amaar Slatch.
An ambulance of the medical crew was driven against the rules into an active competitive section crashing heavily into Duncan’s Evolution a situation that Thethy squarely laid it on the door step of the events organizers.
“Some clubs are good organizers and some are poor organizers. What KMSF is supposed to do is to be able to vet the organizers, so long as the rally is organized by clubs that organize good rally then I don’t think we should have the problem like the one that occurred in rally”.
He added “The ambulance accident was entirely unfortunate and that was not supposed to have happened in the case of a well briefed organization. I think in Nyeri the ambulance driver was not briefed adequately and he should not been near a competitive section of the rally.”
Thathi who is also the FIA chief in Africa gave the Voi rally confidence boost outlining the plans in store.
”We have instituted all necessary steps to make sure the Voi Rally runs without the hi-cups that were seen in the last round of the series in Nyeri ”
He also added ”We have three ambulances, helicopter and, most importantly a team experienced officials to make sure the rally is run properly with safety in mind.”
Notable absentee for the Voi rally will be 1999 and 2010 Champion Alistair Cavenagh who will be competing in the gruelling Iron Man Competition to raise funds for Cystic Fibriosis in Mallorca, Spain.
Charger is leading the KNRC 2013 series with 140 points ahead of Anwar and Tundo who have so far garnered 90 and 80 points respectively.
The Voi Rally will have five competitive stages of which three will be repeated.
This rally will bare all marking of a technical challenge to the drivers and crews taking them on roads made famous on the safari rally for so many years.
The longest stage will stage will be 56.50kms long while the shortest will be only 500 meters long.
The crews will conduct their own reconnaissance on Friday7am to 6pm with only two passengers allowed per car.
The scrutineering and documentation will also be held the same day at the Voi Wild Life Lodge.
The start of the rally will be at 8am at the KCB Voi branch with the ceremonial finishes slated for at 5pm at the Voi Wildlife Lodge to be followed by the prize giving at the same venue fro m 7pm.