It was the veteran’s first victory of the season barely six months after he took the honours at last year’s season-closing Guru Nanak Rally in his Nissan Patrol pick-up.
Duncan had his triumph effectively sewn-up when speedster Raaji Bharij was involved in a minor accident on CS7 and had to kiss the Kenya Motor Sports Club (KMSC) organised rally goodbye despite early brilliant displays.
He bowed out of the rally when his car hit a small tree but the damage to the windscreen would not allow him to stay on for safety reasons, according to Toshi Saito, of the Delights Motors in his second crash in succession after he rammed into another tree during the previous round of KCB Safari Rally.
“All went well. My new navigator Kavit was also good. Thanks to Liquid Telecoms for the big support,” said Duncan.
Rajbir Rai in a Ford Fiesta R5 navigated by Tim Challen finished second ahead of Safari winner, Jassi Chatthe who closed the podium to maintain his lead at the top of the Kenyan National Rally Championship (KNRC) standings.
“I feel I have regained my lost confidence after the Kisumu incident. I have made a big step forward and hope to now handle the car even better. I am happy with the second place,” The Ford driver remarked.
Chatthe fronts the table with 76.5 points as Duncan moved to second on 56.5 as Rajbir, son of the seasoned two-time national champion, Sarbi Rai shooting up from ninth to third on 39.
“We are quite happy to finish third. The pace was not that quick for me being first car on the road. We encountered many animals on the road. That did not help us but third is good enough as it helps maintain the overall lead of the KNRC. I’m now preparing for the next rally in Zambia on 16,” the Africa Rally Championship leader added.
Eric Bengi won 2WD category by bringing his car in eighth position overall with Murage wa Waigwa scooping the KNRC S class title by coming just behind in ninth.
The rally that went on despite announcement by sponsors on Friday it had been cancelled after heavy rains made parts of the original route impassable saw the high profile withdrawals of top drivers Alastair Cavenagh, the Tundos -Tash, Frank and Carl, Jonathan Somen, Baldev Chager and the Rais-Tejveer and Onkar Rai in protest.
KMSC resorted to alternative routes and extended the event’s programme by a day with clerk of course, Jimmy Kahumbura pressing on with the rally despite the hue and cry it generated.
The leader board exchanged hands thrice with Rai opening a 15 seconds lead after CS1 Isinya Stage but this was short-lived when Duncan took over the lead on CS2 and clung onto to it through to CS3.
Bharij was ahead of the pack in the next two stages on CS4 and CS5 before Duncan bounced back on CS6 to recapture lead through to the very end.
With heavy rains forecast Kajiado Rally ironically passed on under scorching conditions with fans who descended on the Quarry stage in their droves for the spectator action treated exhilarating displays of rallying artistry.
The rally was route opened by 1995 Safari Rally champion, Kenjiro Shinozuka from Japan having made his name when he won the world toughest event when it was part of the World Rally Championship.
“I really enjoyed the rally and looking forward to returning for the Safari,” Kenjiro who was invited to the country by Delights Motors remarked.
Karan Patel who retired on the transport road section after CS1, Thaiti Wachira who could not reach the start after a minor accident on Mombasa Road, Darren Miranda, Charan Thethy, Farhaaz Khan and Evans Kamau who was time barred made the casualty list during the third leg of the KNRC.
PROVISIONAL FINAL RESULTS
- Ian Duncan (EVOX) 1:02.26
- Rajbir Rai (Ford Fiesta R5) 1;02.59
- Jassi Chatthe (EVOX) 1;03.40
- Jas Mangat (EVOX) 1:04.26
- Izhar Mirza (EVOX) 1:08.07
- Jasmeet Chana (EVO9) 1:09.51
- Dennis Mwenda (EVO9) 1:09.59
- Eric Bengi (Toyota RunX) 1:13.39
- Murage Waigwa (Subaru GC8) 1:14.01
- Asad Khan (Subaru N10) 1:14.55
- Steve Mwangi (Subaru N10) 1:15.51
- Nadeem Kana (GC8) 1:16.08
- Jansher Sandhu (EVO9) 1:16.55
- Hussein Malik (EVO6) 1:17.08
- Sammy Nyorri (Toyota RunX) 1:18.41