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New stars emerge in 64th Safari Rally as Rai leads KNRC

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Mahesh Halai navigated by Ketan Halai - Subaru Impreza N12.PHOTO/courtesy.

Mahesh Halai navigated by Ketan Halai – Subaru Impreza N12.PHOTO/courtesy.

NAIVASHA, Kenya, June 13 – Osman Abdullahi, Eric Njogu and Rally Chix were some of the greenhorns who impressed at the 64th edition of KCB Safari Rally which culminated at KICC on Sunday.

Rally Chix comprising of Natasha Tundo and Chantal Louis Young were the only all-female crew in the event who entered and survived the demanding conditions on the Great Rift volcanic ash soil terrain.

Natasha, who is Carl Tundo’s sister, brought home their Group N Subaru Impreza N10 in an amazing 11th position in the Safari Rally.

She has only been driving for one year now and is already showing promise in the male dominated sport.

Njogu on the other hand powered his Subaru N10 to eighth position overall while Abdullahi only on his second Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) outing managed 13th which was a repeat performance of his debut in Kisumu last month.

“We decided to push from the start. Day 2 was hard, we hit a blind ditch and bent the traction control arm due to intercom failure which forced the navigator to use hand gestures. The mechanics did a great job keeping the car in shape,” Njongu said.

“We also had two punctures at the end of CS3, right at the flying finish. Day 3; we had a consistent and controlled drive, kept it neat and tidy as we wanted to secure 8th position.

“The car performed beautifully and (Tony) Kimondo my navigator was on song. This is by far the toughest rally I’ve ever done. It’s great to be amongst the top 10 and the leading Subaru after Tapio.”

Adil Mirza of Mombasa finished 15th overall in his first Safari Rally and second overall in the SPV class navigated by Kashif Shaikh.

“I would like to thank Kashif for his superb pace notes and mentoring,” said Adil.

Meanwhile, runner’s up in the main class and Two Wheel Drive have taken charged of the series log which enters its halfway stage in the Coast next month.

Jaspreet Chatthe won the main class ahead of Rajbir Rai while Alex Lairang’i beat defending champion Leo Varese to second place in the Two Wheel Drive Class.

Rajbir, who dominated the better part of Day Two proceedings on Saturday now leads the KNRC log on 60.5 points with Chatthe placed second on 57.5 and Tapio third on 56.

Despite finishing last  (21st overall), Varese leapfrogged to the Two Wheel summit  on 60, 9 ahead of Lairangi and 10 ahead of Eric Bengi who rehired in Safari.

“It was a very technical rally but one thing we had in mind was to keep clean and clear lines and take it easy to avoid any punctures or breaking the car. The biggest challenge we had was our intercom failing less than 5kms into cs2 and driving the whole day by sight. It’s every driver’s dream to win the Safari Rally, it was our turn this time round,” said Lairang’i.

KNRC STANDING’S AFTER SAFARI RALLY

  1. Rajbir Rai 60.5
  2. Jassi Chatthe 57.5
  3. Tapio Laukkanen 56
  4. Ian Duncan 43.5
  5. Baldev Chager 37
  6. Carl Tundo 33
  7. Onkar Rai 33
  8. Manvir Baryan 33

Two Wheel Drive

  1. Leonardo Varese 60
  2. Alex Lairang’i 51
  3. Eric Bengi 50
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