NAKURU, Kenya, Feb 3 – KCB Nakuru Rally winner Onkar Rai has predicted a ‘fast and furious’ Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) season following a neck-and-neck tussle with teammate Baldev Chager and defending champion “Carl “Flash” Tundo.
Onkar became the first ever driver to rack up a hat-trick of wins in the Nakuru Rally history after he eclipsed Tundo in a last stage shootout at the expansive Gicheha Farm.
The level of competition witnessed at the weekend is a clear indication of what we can expect from the Premier Class lot in 2019. If you make a mistake you pay for it. Timings in Nakuru serve-up great moments ahead for KNRC lovers,” said Onkar.
It was a three horse with Tundo, Onkar and baldev Chager dictating the pace.
Carl came through the 18km penultimate stage at Frank’s Landing with a 25 -second advantage but returned third fastest on the repeat run of the technical and twisty last stage at Gicheha (CS8) where Onkar beat him by 30 second to win the home event by a mere 4 seconds from Tundo.
As the Nakuru dust settled, 41 seconds separated the top three with Tundo taking second place and Chager completing the podium dash.
Mahesh Halai in a career best fifth emerged the Division One winner ahead of Mombasa duo of Sonanjeet Puee and Ammar Haq.
Issa Amwari in 8th place took division 2 top honors despite the myriad mechanical hiccups he had to contend with on both loops.
Onkar (Skoda Fabia R5) and Tundo (Mitsubishi EvoX R4) won four stages apiece in what went down as the closest of margins in the Rift Valley Motor and Sports Club (RVMSC) organized leg.
“Nakuru was purely exhilarating, given the frontrunners’ fast and furious knack. Hats off to Tundo for his brilliant drive given the fact that the Skoda is a superior car. He gave his all and drove the car to its full potential to match our speeds,” said Onkar.
Asked about his poor run in the last loop, Onkar went on:
“We made too many mistakes in the first loop where we encountered immense dust and even spun thrice. We then sort of warmed up for the second stage but had already done a lot of damage to our timings. Going into the last section, we were compelled to attack in order to get our time back on but had to do it sensibly to ensure we don’t bash the car.”
Tundo was happy with second overall and indeed a good start to his title defence.
“We did our best in the opening loop trying to gain as much advantage as possible, but as we all know, Gicheha is a Skoda paradise. I dint just have enough firepower in the second loop to stay ahead.”
“We had a few hiccups like overheating and fuel pump issues which also slowed us don in the first loop. But all in all it’s a hoog start to the championship. To beat the Skodas we now have to drive at 150 percent which will be a gigantic task,” said Tundo.
Out of 19 starters, only 9 survived the demanding conditions. Among the casualties were Ian Duncan, Eric Bengi, Paras Pandya and Daren Miranda who was the only 2WD entrant in Nakuru.
- Onkar Rai/Gavin Laurence (Skoda Fabia R5) 1h50m10s
- Carl Tundo/Tim Jessop (EVOX) 1h50m14s
- Baldev Chager/Ravi Soni (EVOX) 1h50m51s
- Tejveer Rai/Zaheer Shah (EVOX) 2h02m20s
- Mahesh Halai/Ketan Halai (Subaru N12) 2h06m38s
- Sohanjeet Puee/Adnan Din (Subari N10) 2h02m20s
- Ammar Haq/Victor Okundi (EVOX) 2h07m08s
- Issa Amwari/Mwngi Waithaka (EVOX) 2h31m36s
- Karan Patel/James Mwangi (Subaru GC8) 2h25m03s