NAIROBI, Kenya, January 28 – The KCB Malindi Rally paves way for what is set to be one of the most open seasons in the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) as it makes a return to the coastal city for the first time in 27 years.
At the same time, title sponsors, KCB, have increased their annual package for the eight-round championship to Sh43.5m from last year’s figure of Sh39.6m.
The single-day Malindi shakedown organized by Mombasa Motor Club under the guidance of the Kenya Motorsports Federation chairman, Roy McKenzie, will see the Watspot System used to line-up the starting order for the round as well as the rest of the season according to federation, General Manager, Njoroge Mwaura.
He added an elaborate route has been laid out which will offer the drivers an opportunity to get the season going as Motor Sports Personality of the Year, Baldev Chager bids to defend the national title he won last year.
“The total distance to be covered by crews will be 350km of which 190km is competitive mileage. The real challenge will commence right after the start, with a spectator stage specially graded in Malindi town for a high-octane affair.
“The service park will be located at -Forest Row Soccer pitch in Jilore, about 16Km along the Tsavo Road from Malindi,” the manager outlines.
The spectator stage section has been set aside in Malindi Town behind Maembe Resort. The section is twisty in some places with some magnificent hairpin bends added Mwaura.
“The longest stage will be a 25km run in a forest region whilst the shortest will be a 2km spectator stage within town. Access to the sections will be limited as a big chunk of the competitive section set in a forest.”
A total of 42 drivers have so far confirmed participation with majority of top drivers gearing up for a chase of the elusive KNRC title won last year by Charger in emphatic style.
Other top names expetect include multiple Safari Rally winner Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo, three-time former KNRC Champion, Azar Anwar and Ian Duncan.
Others are young drivers like Quentin Mitchell, Rajbir Rai, Manvir Baryan and Izhar Mirza who are trying to fit in the shoes of top Division One speedsters Tundo, Ian and Chager.
Chager, who was last weekend crowned the motor personality-of-the-year, says he will approach Malindi tour with levelheaded attitude as he starts his title defense.
The 2WD class has attracted defending champion Dennis Mwenda, two times champion Leonardo Varese, Gurmit Thethy and Mombasa-based Victor Okundi.
Division three has attracted the likes of Alasdair Keith and Mahesh Halai who is upgraded from Subaru gc8 to the N12 model.
Route recceing has been scheduled for Thursday with the mandatory scrutenering set for the nest day Friday.
The rally will be flagged-off outside the KCB branch in Malindi on Saturday at 6.30am. The ceremonial finish will be at the Ocean Beach Hotel from 3pm onwards.
Unveiling title sponsorship of the season, KCB Chief Financial Officer, Collins Otiwu rolled out an improved package for the eight-rounds.
“The rally sponsorship continues to provide an ideal vehicle for the bank to promote business countrywide, while also providing entertainment for motorsport enthusiasts in Kenya,” he declared.