The son of legendary Sarbi Rai took the lead in the third section at Songhor, lost it momentarily to a hard charging former champion Carl Tundo in the fourth section but had his win effectively sewn up when the latter suffered multiple punctures.
And with just the Guru Nanak Rally to spare next month, the KNRC title race has now been narrowed down to a two-horse race pitting Tundo and reigning crown holder Baldev Chager.
Chager was lying second after the second stage but had his run stymied by a puncture in the third stage.
Tundo settled for second despite a storming charge run in the lakeside region whilst 60 year-old veteran Azar Anwar sealed the podium in his ageing ex-Cavenagh EVO8 machine.
Chager who retained his position atop the KNRC standings with 360points ahead of Tundo on 320 came home in fourth with the champion needing a podium finish at Guru Nanak to retain the title.
Leonardo Varese in a Toyota Corolla RSI won the 2WD Class followed by defending champion Dennis Mwenda while Karan Patel in a career best fifth won Group S Class in the absence of season pacesetter Alasdair Keith. Jonathan Somen won the Classic in a career best 10th overall place.
“I’m in cloud 9,” Rajbir quipped as he savoured his most successful season in the sport.
Tundo drove to the finish at Chemase’s Kibos Sugar yard despondent of punctures that cost him maximum points.
“The event was frustrating for us. We picked up two punctures along the way and I think we let the car down. Hopefully, we’ve taken some points back from the rally but we hoped we could taken victory,” Tundo decried.
The course in Chemase region was rendered patricianly wet and muddy in the early morning run following Thursday night’s heavy downpour.
But fans that turned up to witnessed the lakeside thriller were treated to some exhilarating displays of racing artistry.
The course proved unforgiving though to some of the crews.
Issa was the first casualty when he missed reaching the end time control of CS1 Miwani stage with just 100meters to the flying finish.
“We lost control of the car. I think it must have been caused by a steering rack or control arm,” said Amwari.
-Laukkanen early run stemmed-
Former British and Finnish rally champion Tapio Laukkanen was the star attraction in the early morning exchanges with first two fastest stages times on CS 1 and CS2 prior to his exit on CS3 Chemelil-Songhor.
The Finn who was called in at the eleventh hour to fill the void left behind in Manvir’s Subaru Impreza cleared the ground with all and sundry but damaged his car at Songhor to bow out while leading.
Tapio beat Chager by 39 seconds in the 10km Miwani stage and repeated his supremacy on the second Nucleus-Simba stage with another six over the champion.
With Tapio gone, youngster Rajbir Rai took over the lead after setting the fastest stage time on Songhor stage.
But Tundo bounced back forcibly to snatch the advantage from Rajbir who he beat by 43 seconds on the 28km CS4 Daraja Mbili-Kibigori stage. Out of the 30 cars that started only 19 survived the demanding course.
1.Rajbir Rai (EVOx) 1:28.12
2. Carl Tundo (Proton) 1:28.48
3. Azar Anwar (EVO8) 1:31.11
4. Baldev Chager (EVOx) 1:32.01
5. Karan patel (Subaru GC8) 1:32.38