NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 7- After months of waiting, Tapio Laukkanen has finally laid his hands on the coveted Kenya National Rally Championship title after Team Kibos of Jaspreet Chatthe and Gugu Panesar withdrew their earlier protest and appeal.
The matter had been referred to the Kenya Motor Sports Federation appeals court after protest and counter protest by Chatthe and Tapio respectively.
Tapio sealed the KNRC title at penultimate stage after finishing fourth behind winner Rajbir Rai, Manvir Baryan and Jaspreet Chatthe but was compelled to cool his heals pending the verdict of the two protests.
Tapio’s championship celebrations were put on hold in Kajiado Sunday when Chatthe lodged a protest against what he termed an illegal airflow box on Tapio’s Subaru GVB13 R4 car.
But Tapio counter protested against Chatthe being towed out of the last stage by one of the rally drivers when his car stalled.
“We refer to our protest lodged Sunday against car No. 2 and the subsequent appeal. In the interest of harmony and competitor relations, we have reconsidered our position and herewith officially withdrew our protest and appeal.”
“We feel that harmony will play a bigger role in the sport than “Championship’ and towards a better spirit of competition. We congratulate Tapio and the entire MRT,” Chatthe’s navigator Panesar said in an Email to the KMSF secretariat.
Meanwhile, Tash Tundo and Chantal Louise Young have the KNRC Division 3 championship title in the bag after a consistent drive in the season.
The Hai Rally Chix entered their names in the annals of rallying history as the first ever all-female crew to lay their hands on the Division 3 diadem.
“I am so happy about it and I’m proud of the whole team! I think we have been so consistent this season and Chantal and I have got a partnership going now,” said Tash.
They had their campaign effectively sewn up when the closest challenger Osman Abdullahi retired.
“We retired 8 km from end of rally when the front right wheel studs sheered and the tyre was recovered some 300 meters away in the bush,” said Osman.
Onkar Singh Rai and his co-driver Gareth Dawe won the KNRC Division 1 championship title after attaining an unassailable lead at the penultimate stage as his closest class adversary Jasmeet Channa can’t catch even by winning the last round in Naivasha at the end of the month.
Shamba Boyz driver Mahesh Halal was all smiles after sealing the KNRC Division 2 diadem incidentally in the absence of his nephew and regular navigator Ketan Halai.
Eric Bengi who is also gunning for 2WD honors is assured of second position even if he skips the last round.
Ian Duncan won the Group N Driver championship despite not finishing. Duncan’s navigator, Amar Slaatch has a tougher competition in the co-drivers championship.
Chandu Devji skipped the rally and will now be compelled to fight for the Group S honors on homestretch with Edward Maina. Kitengela had two S class drivers in Maina and Taiti Wachira who never scored points as for not raising a quorum of three.
Maina is just four points behind Chandu.
Asad Khan and his navigator Harshil Limbani were all smiles with the SPV Class title already in the bag.
The KCB Guru Nanak Rally on November 26 will bring down the curtains on the KNRC 2016.