NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 30 – A total of 20 crews among them seven in the Premier Class category, will start in the season opening of the KCB Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) 2019 in Nakuru on Saturday.
Defending champion Carl “Flash” Tundo will start fourth as per the rotational seeded list, with Tejveer Rai taking off first, Eric Bengi second, legend Ian Duncan third, Onkar Rai fifth and Baldev Chager sixth.
Duncan, who achieved outright victory in a World Rally Championship round when he won the 42nd Trustbank Safari Rally in 1994 in a Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD, has entered a Nissan Pickup SPV with former three times Open Class Motocross Champion Anthony Nielsen being the man assigned to call his pace-notes.
Back-to-back Nakuru’s defending champion Onkar Rai returns to the home rally in his elegant Skoda Fabia R5 hoping to seal a hat-trick while Chager, Tundo and Tejveer will pilot R4 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X cars which scored B13 Class points last season.
-Scraping B13 Class-
Effective 2019, Kenya Motor Sports Federation is scrapping the B13 Class which permitted crews the use of a sequential gearbox and a bigger turbo restrictor.
Eric Bengi and Tuta Mionki (the 2018 motorsports personality of the year) will be making their Premier Class debut seeded second. The Menengai Cream Boyz/Galz duo who ran a Subaru N12 last season believe it will take a few rallies to come to grips with their newly acquired ex-Farhaaz Khan Mitsubishi Evolution X.
KNRC Division 1 has attracted seven drivers led by Karan Patel who has been relegated from Premier Class. Karan who is making a comeback since rolling his Group N Evolution X on the ARC Rally of Tanzania is resorting to his championship winning as his mechanics race against time to fix the Evolution X damage.
Karan won the 2014 KNRC Division 3 and Group S championships in the GC8 and has fond memories for the ex-Baldev Chager GC8.
CRS Racing Team of the Chana siblings (Jasmeet and Ravi) will also be making their first appearance in the Premier Class. The Chanas will run their traditional Mitsubishi Evolution X in Identisys Ltd livery.
Also, in the mix are Mombasa Motor Club stable-mates Sohanjeet Singh Puee (Team Nanak) and Ammar “Bushy” Haq (Team Yalfa) who have both moved a class up to Division One. Sohan beat Ammar to the KNRC Division Two title last season.
A fabulous fight is in prospect in Division Two category, which has attracted 3 entries and a mix of cars comprising two Group N contraptions to be driven by Issa Amwari (Evolution X) and Edward Maina (Subaru Impreza) with Minesh Rathod back at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Evolution X R4.
Geoff Mayes and Albert Kigen are the two entrants enlisted in Division Three.
The rally, organized by Rift Valley Motor & Sports Club (RVMSC), gets underway from KCB Mogotio Branch on Saturday February 2 and culminates at the RVMSC Clubhouse in Solai.
KCB Bank Kenya has committed Kshs.75 million towards motorsports for the next three years, making a comeback as title sponsors of the 8-leg KNRC.
Every year, KCB has set aside Sh20 million for the staging of KNRC events and Kshs.5 million for Autocross;
The 2019 KCB Autocross Championship schedule revved off last weekend at Mai Mahiu’s TGRV racetrack followed by KCB Nakuru Rally to be held in Nakuru and Baringo counties. Reconnaissance and scrutineering will take place on Friday.
CARL ‘FLASH’TUNDO (TOP FRY)
“Same strategy, finish and finish well! Skoda has huge advantage at every level to be honest so not much we can do about that.”
BALDEV CHAGER (KABRAS SUGAR RACING)
“We shall just do the usual, the best we can. We aren’t looking forward to the 33mm restrictors again and normal h pattern gearbox. The larger 34mm restrixtor and sequential boxes had added a little zest last year making the cars a little faster and fun to drive. So, to keep up with the R5 category cars I guess we just have to try even harder this year.”
ERIC BENGI (MENENGAI CREAM BOYS/GIRLS)
“We really want to take it easy in Nakuru and finish the event. We need to get used to the new car and learn her well. By the third event we should hopefully start recording some good times. Later in the season our target is to hit a few podiums and record better career finishes than 4th last year. Let’s see how the season unfolds.”
ONKAR. SINGH RAI (KABRAS SUGAR RACING)
“Approach for the rally as always is to win it. We have won the last two editions of Nakuru and being our home rally, it will be great to seal a hat trick.”