NAIROBI, Kenya, April 27-Former titleholder Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo; navigated by Tim Jessop, gave the latest Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) sensation and crowd-pleasing Proton ST2000 a dream debut on the local scene with a stirring fight-back win in the third round KCB Home Loan Kiambu Rally on Sunday.
Tundo took the lead at the 27km CS7 Tatu City stage when his closest challenger and reigning national champion, Baldev Chager was forced out after his Mitsubishi EVO X developed gear-box problems.
True to his nickname ‘Flash’ Tundo blinded the rest of the competition with the tiny buzzing machine that whet the adrenalin rush of hundreds of enthusiasts who trooped to savour the closed-circuit rally.
Veteran ace Ian Duncan and Amaar Slatch (EVOX) and Quentin Mitchell co-driven by H. Green (Subaru N16) shared the podium with the winner who powered through the grid from ninth to victory after chasing down front runner Chager.
A total of 19 out of 33 cars that started Day Two survived the demanding 281km course in the picturesque farm fields in the vast Kiambu County.
Regional Governor, William Kabogo led by example, amazing spectators with a show of might as he crisscrossed the route in his private chopper although he was also listed among those who would part in competition on four wheels in a rally car pre-event.
Alasdair Keith won the Seasons’ Class while KNRC debutant Taiti Wachira in an ex-Ben Muchemi EVO6 navigated by Mutuma M’Marimba finished second. Wachira romped home ninth overall in the finishing order.
Leo Varese (in position 12), won the 2WD category edging out national champion Dennis Mwenda who trailed him to the ramp.
Tundo drove like a man possessed on Sunday, trying to make up for four minutes lost through a puncture on Saturday’s first stage with his world class Proton belying its name by zooming past the twisty routes through farms and large estates with consummate ease.
Though Tundo’s pace was blistering, he fought a great battle with Chager who retired while leading the pack after extending his overnight lead through to CS 6 before bowing out a stage later.
The ‘Flying Sikh’ who deposed Tundo from the KNRC pedestal last season, had earlier complained of the same problem before the cars left the regroup at Migaa to tackle the last three stages of the event.
With Tundo attacking the private farm stages relentlessly, Chager was compelled to fight back winning CS5, tying with his rival at the 8.7km CS4 Migaa stage, over and above the CS1 stage win he had racked up on Saturday.
Tundo’s fellow Proton debutant, Alistair Cavenagh was an early major casualty at CS3 when his machine folded from the rumble.
“We retired when the engine started overheating. We were happy to have set the second fastest time on that stage. We need a couple of events to get in sync with the car. It’s a complete difference experience. We have to be more aggressive and learn to brake on time.”
Earlier, Rajbir Rai who had a good run Saturday bowed out after the throttle sensor of his Mitsubishi Evo 10 developed issues in the early morning Tatu City Stage run.
The repeat run of Tatu city stage also claimed the Subaru N12 of Maneah Halai with power steering woes.
Nakuru hosts the next round on the weekend of May 24 and 25
1. Carl “Flash” Tundo/Tim Jessop (Proton ST200) 1:58.22
2. Ian Duncan/A. Slatch (EVOX) 1:59.08
3. Quentin Mitchell/H. Green (Subaru N16) 1:59.38
4. Jassi Singh Chatthe/Dave Sihoka (EVOX) 2:01.43
5. Peter Horsey/Bella Erskine (EVOX) 2:05.14
6. Jasmeet Chana/ Ravi Chana (EVO9) 2:11.32
7. Alasdair Keith/Tariq Maliq (Subaru GC8) 2:17.11
8. Tejvir Rai/Zahir Shah (Subaru N16) 2:21.35
9. Taiti Wachira/Mutuma M’Marimba (EVO6) 2:21.42
10. Karan Patel/Tauseef Khan (Subaru GC8) 2:24.12
11. Joost Zurbier/Hanig Machiel (Toyota Tornado) 2:26.29
12. Leonardo Varese/ Kigo Kareithi (Toyota Celica RSI) 2:34.09
13. Dennis Mwenda/E. Njoroge (Toyota Sprinter GT) 2:34.29
14. Hapz Sagoo/Gurveer Padhal (Subaru N10) 2:35.27
15. Steve Mwangi/Steve Nyorri (Subaru N10) 2:38.46
16. Joel Muchiri/Julius Mwachuya (Subaru GC8) 2:39.54
17. Rashid Kabi/Allan Muhindi (Subaru N11) 2:48.51
18. Nishal Shah/Avhit Bhij (VW Golf) 2:58.47
19. Evans Kamau Njacha/James Kinyanjui (Subaru N10) 3:04.58