NAIVASHA, Kenya, Apr 24 – The opening day of the competitive ARC Equator Rally proved to be a hard nut to crack especially the sleeping warrior stage as several top drivers could not finish.
After Hussein Malik and Linet Ayuko completely retired after going into the ditch early in the morning at the Soyambu stage, Kenyan veteran rally driver Ian Duncan was a disappointed man as he could not go on with the second loop in the afternoon after his Nissan 240RS competing under the Minti Motorsport Team failed to start off.
“Sorry guys, the Nissan got Over Time Limit, we came into the service okay for General maintenance, had a break but then it just won’t start when we were ready for the second loop. It is a tricky rally as you can see, we have had a lot of retirements because the stages are tough especially the Sleeping Warrior that has rocks in the stage,” the 59-year-old Duncan said.
“But what a ride while it lasted, we were 5th fasted in Sleeping Warrior and 6th overall in loope one, hopefully we can get to do super rally tomorrow,” Duncan, who is preparing for the Classic Rally added.
The second loop saw drivers tackle Elemementaita, Soysmbu and Sleeping Warrior which is done twice in the opening day.
However, Duncan has a second chance to prove his worth on the last day of the Rally when he competes in the Super Rally after his car was fixed.
According to the “Super Rally Rules,” vehicles that break down and can be repaired are allowed to start the following day.
Meanwhile, in the afternoon loop, the Kenyan trio of Onkar Rai, Baldev Chager and Isaa Amwari as well as the Ugandan pair of Duncan Mubiru and Rajiv Ruperelia are out as well for the day and it is yet to be known if they will be on the start list tomorrow.
Chager and Rai hit a rock that damaged Chager’s steering rack while Rai saw his suspension dented in SS5.
Other drivers who had a tough day and could not finish are the Ugandan trio of Duncan Mubiru, Ronald Sebuguzi and Rajiv Ruparelia while local drivers also consisted of Karan Patel, Amanraaj Rai, Jas Mangat, Pierro Cannobio, Nzioka Waita and John Ng’ang’a.
For Duncan, he has for a long time been a crowd favorite who drove and won the hearts of many rally fans as he raced in a non-homologated 4.5-liter Toyota Hilux. In 2008, he drove a Nissan Patrol a vehicle that he still rallies with once in a while
In the same year, he won the Autocross championship with his well decorated career seeing him on the edge as he is known for his flat-out driving skills, his love for speed and prowess behind the wheel of any vehicle.
He won the Rhino Charge in 1998, 2006 and 2007. He also won the classic rally in his 1968 Ford Mustang then navigated by Amaar Slatch.
-By Suleiman Munyua