NAIVASHA, Kenya, Mar 17 – Kisumu based Jaspreet ‘Jassi’ Chatthe navigated by Gurdeep Panesar in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 10 took the overnight lead in the 65th edition of Safari Rally after leg one drama which culminated at the Bufallo Mall in Naivasha.
Chatthe who is going for his third straight Safari title went to bed with a paltry one second lead ahead of ‘flying Finn’ Tapio Laukkanen in the day’s last section at Aberdare Hills.
Tapio had dominated the stages leading from stage two up to the penultimate run but had to contend with playing second fiddle to Chatthe who drove like a man possessed on the last stage of the day.
Chatthe, the 2015 African champion flabbergasted everyone when he checked into the last control with a 38.40 minute total while Tapio cleared the day’s four sections with a cumulative total of 38.41 minutes as Baldev Chager came in third with a time of 39.16 minutes.
Current Kenya National Rally Championship leader Manvir Baryan drove his Skoda Fabia R5 machine to fourth place ahead of Carl Tundo who wrapped up his leg one campaign in fifth. Manvir who is among the Kenyan rising stars was lying second after the Ngong section.
Chager who was first on the road said; “It’s a little bit rough and wet in Kedong and we are happy to be motoring still. It was dry in the Abardares.”
Ian Duncan who last won the Safari in 1994 during the WRC days settled for 6th place. He was the earlier pacesetter when he beat Tapio by a mere 1 second after the 2km CS1 Jamhuri Park super special which is the event’s shortest section.
The 400km event which is one of the shortest in the history of the Safari culminates on Saturday at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru.
The technical finish will be at Albizia but the cars will head to Afraha in convoy for the ceremonial finish which will be graced by Nakuru County Governor Kinuthia Mbugua.
A total of 45 cars led by Baldy Chager started the 65th Safari from the KICC, flagged off by Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario. The cars moved to the Jamhuri Spectator Stage were a large crowd enjoyed the drivers competing on a dual track.
Meanwhile, Wario reiterated Kenya’s plans of returning to the World Rally Championship circuit.
He said he will appear before the Parliamentary Budget Committee on Monday alongside Kenya Motor Sports Federation Chairman Phineas Kimathi to defend their proposal for the government to sponsor Kenya’s bid.
The cabinet secretary said the government is committed to the course which gained traction last year when the government wrote to the WRC promoter promising total support.
- Jaspreet Jassi Chatthe/Gugu Panesar (Evo 10) 38.40
- Tapio Laukkanen/Gavin Laurence (Subaru GVB) 38.41
- Baldev Chager/Ravi Soni (Evolution 10) 39.16
- Manvir Baryan/Drew Sturrock (Skoda Fabia) 39.23
- Carl Tundo/Tim Jessop (Evolution 10) 39.44
- Ian Duncan/Amaar slatch (Evolution 10) 40.10
- Onkar Rai/Gareth Dawe (Skoda Fabia) 40.38