NAIROBI, Kenya, April 25- Series leader and national rally champion Baldev Chager is not sure what to expect from the two new Proton ST2000 cars driven by Alistair Cavenagh and Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo at the KCB Home Loan Kiambu Rally.
But the 2013 KCB Safari Rally winner reckons the nature of the tight and twisty terrain in Mboi Kamiti, Cianda, Migaa and Tatu City may just favour the light- weight Potons “as the Group N Mitsubishi Lancer EVOX is heavy comparatively.”
However, what’s up the sleeves of the Proton aces will be known when the KCB Kenya National Rally Championship round three event traverses the vast Kiambu County in two days of riveting action.
History is in the making in the Rallye Sports Club (RSC) organized leg this weekend as it marks the first time that local drivers will be savouring the world-class S2000 Formula which has previously graced the prestigious KCB/ARC Safari Rally with Fiat Abarth’s Grande Punto and a VW Polo that were driven by Umberto Scandola of Italy and Jon Williams of South Africa.
“To be very honest I don’t think I know what to expect from them Protons. I don’t even think Alistair and Flash do either. Only this weekend we will we know the true outcome. But as always, we will try doing our best. The essence is to have a well prepared car and take it as it comes,” the titleholder said.
Chager added that the closed roads concept is a bonus to all crews “but it all also depends on the nature of the stages.”
Ian Duncan in his EVOX can not be ruled out in this historic Kiambu duel and is anticipated to fight ‘like a wounded lion’ having not scored any points this season.
Duncan retired in Malindi with a broken suspension arm and withdrew from Machakos citing safety.
Although fast rising EVOX youngsters can not graduate sitting around the same dining tables with the top four (Alistair, Flash, Chager and Duncan) Jaspreet Singh Chatthe, Onkar Rai and Rajbir Rai must have surely stepped up from eating crumbs.
Alasdair Keith’s high-octane driving antics have been admirable to all and sundry; having racked up credible stage times in his non-homologated Subaru GC8.
Keith will be attempting to kill two birds with one stone considering that he is leading both the Group S and Division 2 classes.
“We are well prepared for Kiambu and looking forward to a well run event.
Obviously, our goal for this year is to win the Group S title. We are happy to currently be in the lead.
“However, we cannot afford to be complacent and will push to the very end,” underscored Keith who has seen the S Class title elude him in the past two seasons.
The Two-Wheel Drive Class has proved quite tricky and unforgiving for defending champion Dennis Mwenda who has to contend with playing second fiddle to his adversaries this season.
The Class has attracted big names like Leo Varese, Gurmit Thethy and rookie Nishal Shah in VW Golf. Nishal is nephew to renowned Kisumu driver Bimal Shah of Swan group of companies.
“We are all set with my partner Edward Njoroge. We have been waiting for the event and we are hoping this time round our old Proflex shocks hold.
“The new ones we ordered are not ready yet. We changed springs but didn’t get settings right. Had problems from that in Malindi and drove most of the Machakos rally on the same. We have identified the problem and sorted,” Mwenda said.
Gurmit thinks this year’s championship -unlike the last 2 years- will be closely contested and may go all the way to the wire.
“I am going to approach Kiambu cautiously. There is nothing special but just a normal drive. So far this year I have been driving off pace as I wanted to get used to the new VW Golf Mk3 as its driving style is different from what am used to. So the upcoming event will also see us drive just normally,” said Gurmit.
Leonardo believes the return of former champions into the Two Wheel Drive Championship this year will not only injected quality but will go a long way in invigorating the rest of the field to up their ante to the second tier series.
“I’m really excited to see past champions back in competition and it feels really great when you come out tops and you know you have defeated big names. The champions have made the series very competitive and we are looking forward to Kiambu with great expectations.
“There is a lot competition at the moment and I here even in the next competition Adnan (Suhail) in making a comeback,” said Leonardo.
Machakos Rally was the first time that four 2WD champion faced-off in a a single race. Two more former 2WD champions Jasmeet Chana and James Kirimi participated in the Machakos tour in 4WDs and survived the full course.
The four champions who spiced up Machakos were Varese himself, Charan Thethy, Nadeem Kana (2012) and Mwenda (2013) who is the defending champion.
START – KCB KIAMBU (12:00pm)
12:18pm: CS1 GATATHA 1-KACHOROBA 1 (20km)
1.01pm: CS 2 MIGAA ESTATE START -MIGAA ESTATE END 1 (8.70km)
SERVICE A (MIGAA ESTATE) 30 min
1.51pm: PARC FERME IN – MIGAA
8:23am::CS 3 TATU CITY START 1-TATU CITY END 1 (27.00km)
9:01am: CS 4 MARRIOT 1-MBOI KAMITI 1 (16.80km)
SERVICE B (MIGAA ESTATE) 20 min
10:09am: CS 5 GATATHA 2-KACHOROBA 2 (20.00km)
10:52am: CS 6 MIGAA ESTATE START 2-MIGAA ESTATE END 2 (8.70km)
SERVICE C (MIGAA ESTATE) 20 min
REGROUP (MIGAA ESTATE)
12:30am: REGROUP OUT
12:53pm::CS 7: TATU CITY START 2-TATU CITY END 2 (27.00km)
1:31pm::CS 8 MARRIOT 2-MBOI KAMITI 2 (16.80km)
1:59pm: CS 9 MIGAA ESTATE START 3-MIGAA ESTATE END 3 (8.70km)
SERVICE D (MIGAA ESTATE) 10 min