KAJIADO. Kenya, Nov 6- Tapio Laukkanen will have to wait for a decision from the Kenya Motor Sports Federation appeals court which will meet this week to decide whether or not he is the new Kenya national rally champion.
The Flying Finn had sealed the KNRC title at the penultimate stage today but his title celebrations were put on hold when defending champion Jaspteet Chatthe lodged a protest against the former’s air flow box which he termed illegal.
But in a strange turn of events, Tapio countered the move with a protest that Chatthe was towed out of the last section when his Mitsubishi Evolution developed mechanical problems in the latter stages of the rally.
Senior officials of the event confirmed that the verdict on the protests would be made this week.
Meanwhile, Rajbir Rai clocked 1:06.59 hours to emerge the winner in the Equator Motor Club organized event.
The son of legendary Sarbi Rai had his campaign effectively sewn up when the front runners Carl Tundo, Tapio and Chatthe suffered mechanical problems in the latter stages of the rally.
Manvir Baryan finished second overall, as he repeated the same performance he had in Eldoret last month. Laukkanen navigated by compatriot Pasi Torma came in fourth behind Chatthe.
Tapio, who is racing on a Kenyan competition licence, is seeking to enter his name in the annals of KNRC history books by being the first foreign driver to win the KNRC title.
The Finn who was chasing his fifth win of the season had to however contend with two early punctures, which dipped him to fourth.
Chatthe, who had led the rally at the halfway mark came in third overall after he stopped to fix a puncture on the last stage.
Tapio had this to say after checking into last service at AIC Girls Kajiado: “We got two punctures in the first and third stages and lost quite some time. Of course, it was a hectic and scary day. We started the rally while trying to monitor Jassi’s progress.”
Tundo led the rally after the opening stage, but was time-barred as he tried to repair the damage under his car.
With Tundo crawling through the first loop, Chatthe took over the lead and had a good run, but surrendered it on the very last dash.
“About 10kms to the finish of the last stage we picked up a front right puncture and drove on it. But then we had a slight engine problem before the end of the stage,” said Chatthe’s navigator Gurdeep Panesar.
Eric Bengi emerged the winner in the Two Wheel Drive class while Taiti Wachira claimed his career best 10th overall position.
The technical nature of the stages saw several competitors including Ian Duncan, Tash Tundo, and Baldev Chager fall by the wayside.