NAIROBI, May 24- Barely six months after scooping the 2014 Safaricom SOYA Special Category gong, Nikhil Sachania rose to be crowned the Motor Sport Personality of the Year on Saturday.
The 26 year-old became the first ever physically challenged competitor to win the coveted top honours during the annual Kenya Motor Sport Federation awards gala night held in Nairobi.
He now joins the list of greats among them Baldev Chager, Carl Tundo, Lee Rose (94), Patrick Njiru (90, 96), Paul Bailey (98), Gregory Kibiti (99) Rory Green & Orson Tailor in 2000), biker Anthony Nielsen in 2002 and 2006, Ian Duncan in 87, 2003 and 2010 and the prolific motorcycle rider Shivam Vinayak in 2012 in being feted as the best in the adrenaline sport.
Sachania, who recently upgraded from a massive Mitsubishi Challenger pick-up to a custom-made Fiat Abarth Grande Punto S2000 achieved the feat after clinching the 2014 KNRC SPV (specially prepared vehicles) championship for drivers.
Sachania, who works at Samani Construction Limited, was rewarded for demonstrating skill, will, speed, endurance and above all the courage to embrace a sport that nearly killed him two years ago.
“The accident which paralysed me happened in Athi River. I was training with Shazar Anwar and Zane Young trying to get ready for my first Rally Raid event. I hit a rock at high speed, landed head first. The impact shattered my spine. I have always wanted to race no matter what. I love the feeling!” the delighted Sachania.
Nikhil delivered an emotional speech after his rare feat and asserted that he is into motor sports for the long haul.
“I didn’t expect to win and I must admit that it came as a pleasant surprise. It was a very tough but exciting motoring season in 2014. I thank my parents for their unswerving support and I have this trophy to prove my driving ability to them,” said Sachania who is son of retired driver Dinesh “Kaka” Sachania.
Former East African AMU 85cc motocross champion Karan Patel was named the Most Improved rally driver.
Patel started his racing career on KNRC 3 last year and went on to rack-up a rare double in KNRC S Class and Division 3.
Motocross rider Maxine Wahome took the Ladies Rose Bowl for the most meritorious female driver while Imran Hakada and Manpreet Sagoo were the most improved personalities in autocross and rally raid.
Tejas Hirani who retained the Autocross and Rally Raid buggy championship was also acknowledged for winning the Formula Gulf 1000 in Dubai and setting the fastest lap time at the Dubai Autodrome.
Tejas, who hopes to participate in three RX Lites World Rallycross Championships in Europe later this year, also became the first Kenyan driver to compete in the famous Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit.
Samir Anwar was bestowed with the motocross MX125 championship and announced his retirement from motorcycle racing.
Samir who is the son of rally driver Anwar Pandya said: “I quit motorsports last year after winning the championship because I am chasing a new dream which is kick-boxing. I want to be an all time great in kick boxing and I know I am going to make it,” Samir said.
KMSF Chairman JS Vohra said Kenya’s motor sport still has a long and winding road to travel before reaching the pinnacle of the Federation’s dreams, “which is making the country a leading sports tourism destination by hosting global events like a regional Raid kind of Dakar Rally and helping Safari regain its lost status.”
The occasion presided over by the Commissioner of Sports Gordon Oluoch (sitting in for CS Hassan Wario) also feted the KMSF 2014 Champions in various disciplines of the sport.
Oluoch urged KMSF to continue lobbying for the Safari to be back on the WRC Calendar. .
2014 KMSF CHAMPIONS
- Kenya National Motocross Championship 2014
MX2- Apollo Mbuki
Veterans & Masters -Tim Jessop
2. Kenya National Enduro Championship 2014
Enduro Quad Class -Shazar Anwar
Enduro Overall -Shivam Vinayak
Enduro 125-Shivam Vinayak
2WD Turbo – Hardeep Rehsi
2WD Non-Turbo-Tejas Hirani
Quads -Charles Mugo
Bambino -Ryan Bailey
4. Kenya National Rally Raid Championship: 2014
Car Class- Driver: Gray Cullen
Car Class- Navigator:: Jon Bovard
Motorcycle: Shivam Vinayak
Quad: Shazar Anwar
Buggy- Tejas Hirani/Rohit Bhudia
New Overall Champion: Wangai Kimeria
5. KCB Kenya National Rally Championship 2014
KNRC 2WD navigator- Kigo Kareithi
2WD driver-Leo Varese
Classic Car Cup navigator-Richard Hechle
Classic Car Cup driver- Jonathan Somen
SPV Navigator- Charanjeev Singh
SPV Driver: Nikhil Sachania
Group S Navigator- Tauseef Khan
Group S Driver: Karan Patel
KNRC Div 3 driver- Karan Patel
KNRC Div 3 navigator- Tauseef Khan
KNRC Div 2 driver-Alasdair Keith
KNRC Div 2 Navigator- Tariq Malik;
KNRC Navigator -Ravi Soni,
KNRC Driver- Baldev Singh Chager.
2014 MERIT AWARDS CATEGORY
Most Improved Motorcycle
rider: Zenni Mokaya
- Most Improved Autocross Driver: Imran Hakada
3. Most Improved Rally Driver: Karan Patel
4. Most Improved Rally Raid Competitor: Manpreet Sagoo
5. Motor Personality of the year: Nikhil Sachania