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Kenya’s top female navigator eyes piece of WRC action

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 20 – Kenya’s top female navigator Tuta Mionki is hoping to be among those who will compete in the prestigious World Rally Championship (WRC) when the global race return to Kenya at the Safari Rally in July.

Mionki, who was voted as the 2018 Kenya Motorsport Personality of the year, says she is waiting for organisers of the event to commission the cars eligible to take part in the iconic race that returns to Kenya for the first time since 2002, and hopes she can find a driver too.

She navigated former Kenya National Division One champion Eric Mbengi in 2019.

“I would love to take part in the WRC now that it’s coming back in the country, right now we don’t know which cars are eligible, hopefully I can find a driver with an eligible car so that I can do that,” Mionki, a Consultant at Echelon Human Capital, told Capital Sport.

Mionki, who started rallying in 2012, is also eying an African title and she has set her sights in tackling the Africa Rally Championship that takes place in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia and Ivory Coast, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

“I am also eying a chance to rally at the Africa Rally Championship which has always been my dream. I have not raced in few of the countries, I have only been in in three out of the seven so hopefully I can go there and win an Africa title,” she sated.

Mionki started serious competition in 2012 where she only missed one race that year,  but she has been competing ever since and the highlight was 2018 when she was named the Motorsport personality of the year, finishing as the third best co-driver after winning Group N and Division 3 of the co-driver championship.

“It doesn’t earn me any money, for us its more of an individual sport and passion we actually spend money to take part in the sport as opposed to earning. There are co-drivers who earn money on agreement with their drivers, but majority don’t,” the navigator underscored.

She emerged from the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) Division One to the Premier Class as the Kenya’s top female navigator.

The Nairobi based consultant started rallying as a spectator in 2011 where she used to go out to watch most rallying with a group of friends and later started going to class on Saturdays at Abdul Sidi Rallying Academy to learn more about the sport.

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Mionki narrates that, navigators play a key role in ensuring the driver is on track and with the right speed.

“The work of a co-driver driver is to read pace notes to guide the driver to avoid obstacles to get to the finish point in the fastest way possible. The driver who does several sections in the shortest time possible is the one who wins,” she expelianed.

-How do people misunderstand the rallying sport?

“I think the people that I have met ask me what I’m doing in a dangerous sport how they call it, That’s one misconception that its dangerous. When you compare your normal road car and a rally car there is a huge difference in the safety aspect a rally car has a roll cage,” she pointed out.

She added; “it has a safety belt that is very different from your  normal safety belts such that if you roll  the car will not cave in because of the roll cage  and you won’t move  from your seats because that’s where most people get injuries. Second misconception people think is a professional sport that you get so much money to race but like most sports in the country it’s an amateur sport, we mostly do it for fan.”

Rallying to her is an exciting sport and something she always look forward to though he said it is time consuming.

-Did your family support you in this journey?

“At first everybody was a bit skeptical my family especially because everybody thinks it’s dangerous. They are worried about safety but then when they see you racing and you’re okay then there is the aspect of competition so every time you bring a trophy back home people get excited about it.”

Mionki says they have programs to recruit and support the girls join the sport and grow with it this year and therefore urged women to step forward and join rallying.

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