NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 7 – Baldev Chager navigated by Ravi Soni in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X stormed to his third career Safari Rally title as the fourth round of the FIA African Rally Championship culminated in Naivasha.
His calm and assured drive to last service at Sopa Lodge belied the excitement that was bubbling underneath and it exploded into a solid stream of joy at the prize giving.
Chager, who won back to back Safari titles in 2013 and 2014, had his campaign effectively sewn up when Manvir Baryan suffered radiator problems on the second run of Kedong section which was the last for the day.
Manvir had a 33 seconds advantage over Chager going into the last section at Kedong but due to thick dust, he had to contend with serious overheating problems when his radiator got clogged with volcanic ash soil. It was a bitter pill for Manvir to swallow as Safari victory proved elusive for the umpteenth time.
Tundo finished second overall while Manvir settled for third place much to his chagrin. Ian Duncan finished a distant fourth.
Chager was all smiles after victory and this is what he had to say:
“This is the most intense and probably the most challenging Safari Rally I have ever done to be honest. I mean, every stage was a matter of seconds with the top four until Onkar (Rai) went out,” Chager said.
“There was no room for mistakes, it was about full focus and 100 percent attack mode. Manvir was leading up till last stage but his car sucked some dust on Kedong. When we saw Manvir stuck three quarters way through the last stage with his bonnet open, we just knew we were ahead as we had already picked up three minutes on him, because he started three minutes ahead of us.”
Manvir wasn’t happy with the running of Kedong stage and said: “The last stage shouldn’t have been run because it was dug up so deep and wasn’t fit for rally cars. We actually didn’t get stiuck but our radiatior got clogged with dust.”
1.Baldev Chager/Ravi Soni (Kenya/Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10) 164.30.
- Carl Tundo/Tim Jessop (Kenya/Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10) 165.23.6
- Manvir Baryan/Drew Sturrock (Kenya/Skoda Fabia)276.23.8
- Ian Duncan/Anthony Nielson (Kenya/Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10) 179.28.4
5.Leroy Gomes/U rshlla Gomes (Zambia/Ford Fiesta) 186.08.6
6.Jassy Singh/Sajid Khan (Zambia/ Subaru Impreza) 186.48.7
7.Giancarlo Devine/Sylvia Vindevogel (Rwanda/Mitsubishi Lancer) 190.38.7
- Tejvir Rai/Gavin Laurence (Kenya/Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10) 191.31.6
- Yassin Nasser/Ali Katumba (Uganda/Subaru Impreza) 198.26.2
- Mahesh Halai/Ketan Halai (Kenya/Mitsubishi Lancer) Evo10) 204.24.1
- Karan Patel/James Mwangi (Kenya/Subaru Impreza) 208.59.9
12.Jasmeet Chana/Ravi Chana (Kenya/Mitsubishi Lancer) 210.38.2
- Duncan Mubiru/Musa Nsubuga (Uganda/Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10) 218.34.4
- John Nganga/Denus Mwanda (Kenya/Subaru Impreza) 223.46.22
- Hussein Malik/Linet Ayuko (Kenya/Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10) 224.48.3
- Nikhil Sachania/Deep Patel (Kenya/Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10)
- Sohanjeet Puee/Adnan Din (Kenya/Subaru Impreza N10)
- Minesh Rathod/Shameer Yusuf (Kenya/Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10)
- Geoff Mayes/ Suzanna Zwager (Land Rover)
- Lyimo Emmanuel/Ali Mustafa (Tanzania/Subaru Impreza)
- McRae Kimathi/Evan Mwenda (Kenya/Subaru Impreza)
- Issa Amwari/Job Njiru (Kenya/Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10)
- David Kioni/Henry Nyoike (Kenya/Subaru Impreza)
- Waita Nzioka/Laban Cliff (Kenya/Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9)
- Jonathan Somen/Richard Hechle (Kenya/Ford Escort Mark11)
- Christakis Fitidis/Veer Dadar (Tanzania/Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10)
- Ken Nteere/Edward Ndukui (Kenya/Subaru Impreza)