NAIROBI, April 28- After Safari Rally heartbreak, Finnish driver Tapio Laukkanen and navigator Pasi Torma return with vengeance to the domestic scene this weekend when action turns to Kajiado for the third round of the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC).
Wounded national champion, Baldev Chager is also hell bent on chalking his first win of the season to supplant surprise Safari winner, Jasmeet Chatthe who is ahead of the pack at the summit of the standings.
Laukkanen quickly earned the “Flying Finn” moniker when he totally dominated the first two days of the Safari last month before sensationally crashing out in the early stages of the last day in Meru when the rear arm of his Subaru snapped.
Kisumu based Chatthe capitalised to bring his Mitsubishi Evolution home for his biggest victory and his memorable triumph will be set aside as a pack of top drivers including Chager who is first off the ramp.
The KNRC leader will be the driver to beat after winning the Africa Rally Championship (ARC) Series competition at the Sasol Rally of South Africa to shoot to the top of the continental standings as well.
Having already won in Kajiado, Chager is determined to rack up his first win of the season and so are his Kabras Racing team-mates Onkar Rai and Tejveer Rai.
Kabras team has entered Mitsubishi Evolution 10s which have dominated KNRC over the past decade until Tapio joined the national series.
Manvir Singh Baryan who is among the fastest rising youngsters in Kenya at present has entered a Ford Fiesta R5 that he will be driving for the third occasion since acquiring it from M-Sport earlier this year.
Also entering a similar car is Rajbir Rai who rolled his car in Kisumu in February with the Fords yet to secure a podium finish in thus far despite their superior technology.
Carl “Flash” Tundo and Alastair Cavenagh are expected to enter their Proton Neo Satria S2000s that have also found the rough local terrain a tough nut to crack in a rally billed to be another back-breaker.
The KCB Kajiado Rally will cover Kajiado and Machakos in arguably one of the toughest KNRC series this year.
The rally will be flagged off outside KCB Kitengela Branch on Saturday while the spectator stages will be based at Andy Corner/ Konza and East African Portland Cement Quarry where the event’s prize giving ceremony will be held.
The road surface for competitive stages is grave with the transport road section, according to clerk of the course Jim Kahumbura being tarmac, broken tarmac and gravel.
Competitive mileage will be 154.8km with 100.6km of liaisons sections for the cumulative total of 255.4km.
“We find pride when we see new stars emerging as winners for the various series. This is a clear indication that the sport is growing tremendously in the country.
“Our sponsorship for various sports disciplines is due to our belief that talent need to be nurtured if at all the whole society is to move forward in various spheres of development,” KCB Marketing Director Angela Mwirigi said during the Tuesday launch of the event in Nairobi
Provisional top grid
1- Baldev Chager/Ravi Soni /Mitsubishi Evolution 10
2- Quentin Mitchell/Tom Woodburn /Skoda Fabia
3- Manvir Baryan/Drew Sturrock /Ford Fiesta
4- Jaspreet Chatthe/Craig Thorley /Mitsubishi Evolution 10
5- Rajbir Rai/Dale Furniss /Ford Fiesta
6- Ian Duncan/Kavit Dave /Mitsubishi Evolution 10
7- Carl Tundo/ Tim Jessop / Proton Neo Satria
8- Onkar Rai/Gareth Dawe / Mitsubishi Evolution 10
9- Tapio Laukkanen/Pasi Torma /Subaru Impreza
10- AlastairCavenagh/Gavin Laurence /Porsche 911
- Jaspreet Chatthe 58.5 points
- Baldev Chager 37.5
- Ian Duncan 31.5
KNRC DIVISION 1
- Mahesh Halai 45
- Frank Tundo 37.5
- Amaanraj Rai 31.5
KNRC DIVISION 2
- Asad Khan 58.5
- Dennis Mwenda 46.5
- James Kirimi 27
KNRC DIVISION 3
- Jansher Sandhu 45
- Murage Waigwa 37.5
- Stefano Roca 31.5
KNRC GROUP N
- Baldev Chager 52.5
- Onkar Rai 47.5
- Ian Duncan 37.5
KNRC S Class
- Murage wa Waigwa 37.5
- James Kirimi 31.5
- Taiti Wachira 27
- Alastair Cavenagh 37.5
- Stefano Roca 31.5
- Ranjeet Sehmi 27
- Bhupinder Sagoo “Raju” 40.5
- Sammy Nyorri 40
- Eric Bengi 37.5