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FIA officials pay visit to Kenya’s paraplegic driver Nikhil

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 17 – Following the recent safety equipment grant from FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission, Kenya’s pararalegic driver Nikhil Sachania has taken advantage of the pandemic period to fine-tune his hand-controlled Mitsubishi Evolution 10 for next year’s WRC Safari Rally event.

The reigning three-time Kenyan SPV champion has already fitted the certified safety fuel tank he received from ATL as part of the FIA disability grant in June.

The leader of the KCB Kenya National Rally Championship S Class and Division One logs is now racing against time for “Certificate of Adoption” eligibility after visiting FIA delegates recommended further upgrades.

His car was recently inspected by Natacha Di Sivuliu (Project and Commission Manager-Safety Department) and Josef Halter (Engineer delegate from FIA).

“There are some modifications that were required for the handcontrols that the FIA Safety Officer had pointed out. The modifications were to ensure that the handcontrols are attached securely to the car and that the they work smoothly. We have also changed the rear differential of the car as we were having issues throughout the last season with it failing regularly.”

Nikhil revealed that his SPV will be upgraded in phases well in time for the World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally Kenya next year.

“The car is being worked on still and should be ready in a few weeks. I hope to test the car soon to make sure the new parts are working as planned. During this time, we are focusing on preparing the car to have it ready for the WRC. When the FIA delegates had come to assess the car, they had pointed out a few issues that needed to conform with their safety standards and homologation.”

“Their visit was to inspect the vehicle so that I can apply for the Certification of Adaption. The Certificate of Adaptations is provided by the FIA for competition vehicles not in compliance with the corresponding homologation and/or technical regulations due to the adaptations required for a disabled driver.

The Adaptations Working Group of the FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission only accept requests for vehicles intended for competitions included in the International Sporting Calendar or competitions with regulations specifically requesting the FIA certificate of adaptations. The fuel tank has been installed in the car. It is an ATL tank. The support from the FIA will help us conform to the FIA safety regulations and also allow us to participate in FIA related events.

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The FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission offers support to disabled drivers through the no-cost supply of a range of safety equipment.

Available to disabled drivers who participate in at least five races per year sanctioned by their National Sporting Authority (ASN), the grant is intended to make motor sport more accessible without compromising safety.

The FIA created the Disability and Accessibility Commission to ensure accessible racing and motoring across both the Sport and Mobility pillars.

Sachania was hoping to make his WRC Safari debut in July 2020 but due to the global health emergency he has had ample time to rework his hand controlled SPV in ahead of the event rescheduled for next year.

Sachania’s car is a group N spec “with the only addition of the hand controls and the SST transmission.”

He studied Project Management in the UK and works in Nairobi for Samani Construction Ltd as a Project Manager.

Sachania returned to a sport which nearly killed him in 2011 and confined him to a wheelchair. He rebounded in 2014 to win the SOYA Disability Award, the Kenya National Rally SPV car category championship and the KMSF Motorsport Personality of the Year Award in 2014.

In September 2011, Nikhil was involved in an accident in Athi River where he was testing his new quad with Shazar Anwar and Zane Young trying to get ready for his would-be debut event. He hit a rock at high-speed and landed head first. The impact shattered his spine. His love for the “man and machine” sport has seen him dominate the KNRC SPV Championship which he has won thrice in 2014, 18 and 19.

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