MERU, April 5- Kisumu based Jaspreet Singh Chatthe navigated by Gugu Panesar in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution entered his name in the annals of Kenyan motorsports history with victory in the 63rd edition of the KCB Safari Rally which culminated at Meru County Sunday.
It was his third career win after clinching the Africa Rally Championship round of Tanzania and Nanyuki Rally last year.
Chatthe, 35, who is being serviced by the MML Sport from the UK achieved victory in the heat of a fierce battle with veteran and 1994 winner, Ian Duncan in the last two stages around Kibirichia and Meru Forest.
His memorable triumph was fuelled in large part by the retirement of red hot Finn, Tapio Laukkanen who led the Safari for two days following a glaring error that saw him and his co-driver fail to arrive at Loldaiga remote service in time.
Chatthe is the fourth Sikh to win the event once famed as the toughest rally in the world after the legendary Joginder Singh, Sarbi Rai and Baldev Chager who won two back to back Safaris in 2013 and 2014.
Duncan who was in his maiden outing with a Liquid Telecom EVOX lost the Safari by a mere 13 seconds denying him the chance to relive the magic he experienced in 1994 in the famous works Toyota Celica GT4 dubbed Flying Sausage when it was part of the World Rally Championship.
“I gave my all in the last two stages but still found Chatthe going quite quick,” said Duncan.
Four-time winner, Carl “Flash” Tundo in a Proton Neo Satria S2000 was third ahead of the defending champion Chager with Manvir Baryan bringing home the newest model on the Kenya circuit, Ford Fiesta R5 to round the top five.
-Throwback to past-
The three day event was characterised by muddy conditions which rekindled the olden days when Easter Holidays drew together world beaters of the man and machine game.
The most challenging aspect for crews this time were long transport road sections which prompted organisers to introduce remote service zones.
After last service at Meru Teachers Training Institute, Duncan was 24 second on Chatthe’s tail.
But Chatthe attacked the Meru Forest stage then backed-off quite a bit on Kibirichia.
The last loop of the rally was reduced to a 30km two stage run following the cancelation of Kisima stage after some cars got stuck in the mud.
Asked what it really took to win the Safari, Chatthe quipped: “We had a clean run all through and tried to remain cautious when conditions proved quite tough.”
Chatthe’s navigator who is also a Kisumu resident was all smiles: “We have had a good drive together. We would like to thank MML Sport from UK for offering us good technical support and of course our local mechanic Mike Mwangi.
“The last two stage were good but again it was really tight with Ian. Kabirichia we took it kind of easy but attacked Meru Forest and we are happy to bring the car back in one piece,” said Gugu.
PROVISIONAL FINAL RESULTS
1.Jaspreet Chatthe/Gurdeep Panesar /Mitsubishi Evolution 10) 3:22.32
- Ian Duncan/Amaar Slatch /Mitsubishi Evolution 10) 3:23.25
- Carl Tundo/ Tim Jessop / Proton Neo Satria s2000) 3:24.28
- Baldev Chager/Ravi Soni /Mitsubishi Evolution 10) 3:24.54
- Manvir Baryan/Drew Sturrock (Ford Fiesta R5) 3:27.34
- Rajbir Rai/Dale Furniss (Ford Fiesta) 3:32.05
- Jas Mangat/Cedric Buzabo /Mitsubishi Evolution) 3:43.41
- Amaanraj Rai/Gregory Stead (EVOX) 3:44.03
- Onkar Rai/Gareth Dawe / Mitsubishi Evolution 10) 3:46.17
- AlastairCavenagh/Gavin Laurence /Porsche 911) 3:46.25
11- Azar Anwar/ Julius Ngige /Mitsubishi Evolution 8) 3:49.39
- Asad Khan/ Mwangi Kioni /Subaru Impreza N10) 3:50.16
- Dennis Mwenda /Job Njiru /Mitsubishi Evolution 9) 3:52.01
- Mahesh Halai/ Ketan Halai /Subaru Impreza) 3:53.50
- Frank Tundo/Mike Borissow /Mitsubishi Evolution 9) 3:57.57
- Murage waigwa/Tuta Mionki (Subaru GC8) 3:58.32
- James Kirimi/Evans Mwenda (GC8) 3:59.10
- Karan Patel/Tauseef Khan /Mitsubishi Evolution 10) 4:01.33
- Stephano Rocca/TBA /Datsun 280Z) 4:01.59
- Taiti Wachira/Mutuma Marimba /Mitsubishi Evolution 6) 4:08.45
- Eric Bengi/Tony Gikuhi /Toyota Runx) 4:10.43