ELDAMA RAVINE, May 25- Twenty three year-old Rajbir Rai navigated by Tim Challen in a Mitsubshi Lancer EVOX registered a maiden career KNRC win as KCB Mtaani Eldama Ravine Rally came to a dramatic end at Kamwosor Service Park in Elgeyo Marakwet County.
The son of legendary two- times former Kenya champion Sarbi Rai had his campaign effectively sewn-up when Ian Duncan suffered multiple punctures; including two in the repeat run of Tugumoi stage (CS5).
Duncan, who picked his third puncture at the CS6 Kiptacich stage, led the rally until the excruciating double puncture jinx set in.
Alasdair Keith won Group S for the second time running whilst Gurmit Thethy claimed his maiden 2WD win after 6 years of trying. Jonathan Somen navigated by Richard Hechle won the Classic Car Cup.
Defending champion Baldev Singh Chager finished second overall in the main class while Duncan settled for third.
Chager spent a restless and sleepless night as a result of a bad fever that had at some point threatened to pull him out of the rally.
But he beat the odds to clinch a podium contrary to all expectations.
Tundo retired in the opening Tugumoi/Kocholwo stage after hitting a culvert and subsequently damaging the front left suspension arm.
Undaunted by his retirement, Tundo came back to route-open the rally but suffered further jinx when his Proton ST2000 caught fire in the repeat run of the Flourspar (CS7) section. He however stopped to put off the fire.
Rajbir was all smiles after his fairy tale win.
“It was a very good rally and a very challenging route. We were trying to keep good rhythm through out the rally and I’m really excited to win my first rally, so its pretty good and I’m hoping we can push on, hoping that more will follow,” said Rajbir.
Rajbir started his rallying career with buggies at Jamhuri Park before joining the 2WD in the ex-Sarbi VW Golf and now the “monster EVOX” that enters his name in the annals of rallying history.
With Tundo failing to finish his home rally, Chager who had retired in the latter stages of last month’s Kiambu rally, resumes his KNRC lead with 220 points.
Rajbir was only 30 seconds behind Duncan as at CS4 end.
Chager soldier on and had this to say at first service.
“Today is a bit tricky for me. Stage 1 (Tugumoi) was very slippery, very rocky, very hard to get the rhythm and I’ve actually been battling with fever all night so not feeling the best of myself. That’s why my commitment isn’t as it should be. We enjoyed stage 2 and Flourspar going up but I’m not still feeling well,” said Baldev.
The Rift Valley Motor and Sports Club (RVM&SC) organized round proved quite unforgiving to some of the crews. Ghalib Haji was time barred after getting stuck in a section for close to an hour.
Tejvir Rai broke the tie-rod end at CS2.
Raaji Bharij and Geoff Mayes retired at CS2 after clipping a bank at speed. This pulled off a control arm of their Mitsubsihi EVO9.
After the Raaji’s mishap, CS2 was stopped and the rest of the drivers given a bogey time. Five cars had tackled the second section at the time of the stoppage.
“We informed the clerk of course of the danger because with a bent arm we couldn’t move the car which was across a narrow road,” said Bharij.
The next event is KCB Nanyuki Rally on the weekend of June 27-28.
1. Rajbir Rai/Tim Challen (EVOX) 2:07.59
2. Baldev Chager/Ravi Soni (EVOX) 2:09.35
3. Ian Duncan/Amaar Slatch (EVO9) 2:09.58
4.Jaspreet Chatthe/Gurdeep S. Panesar (EVOX) 2:13.04
5. Onkar S. Rai/Gavin Laurence EVOX) 2:16.54
6. Azar Anwar/Julius Ngige (EVO8) 2:17.10
7. Petter Horsey/Bella Erskine (EVOX) 2:17.41
8. Alasdair Keith/Tariq Maliq (Subaru GC8) 2:23.28
9. Jasmeet Chana/Ravi Chana (EVO9) 2:25.41
10. Mahesh Halai/Ketan Dinesh Halai (Subaru N12) 2:28.35
11. Ronak Shah/R. Ismail (Subaru N12) 2:30.30
12. Karan Patel/Tausef Khan (subaru GC8) 2:30.36
13. Jonathan Somen/Richard Hechle (Ford Escort) 2:30.45
14. Steven Mwangi/Steven Nyorri (SubaruN10) 2:31.39
15. Eric Njogu/Tonny Kimondo (Subaru N8) 2:33.41
16. Manmeet Singh/A. Mirza (Subaru STI) 2:34.34
17. Aslam Khan/F. Khan (Porsche 911) 2:35.17
18. Iain Freestone/Absalom Aswani (Ford Escort MKII) 2;36.51
19. Gurmit Thethy/Depinder Kalsi (VW Golf MK2) 2:38.05
20. Eric Bengi/Tony Gikuhi ((Toyota RunX) 2:42.58
21. Jitendra Dhokia/V. Shah (Subaru N10) 2:45.18
22. Don Smith/Bob Kaugi (Subaru) 2:45.18
23. Rashid Kabi/A. Muhindi (Subaru) 2:46.46
24. Edward Maina/J. Ngugi (Subaru N10) 2:51.10
25. Dennis Mwenda/Edward Njoroge (Toyota Sprinter GT) 2:52.21
26. Leonardo Varese/Kigondu Kareithi (Toyota Corolla RSI) 2:53.18
27. Nadeem Kana/James Mwangi (Subaru Impreza) 3:00.14
28. Rob Hellier/Mike Huth (Datsun 160J) 3:01.10
29. Murage Waigwa/Qui Mungai (Subaru) 3:02.22
30. Evans Kamau/j. Mwachuya (Subaru) 3:13.34
31. Nikhil Sachania/C. Singh (Mitsubishi Challenger) 3:22.25