Bengi sets sights on the big boys after KNRC 2WD title run

Action in a previous Nanyuki Rally. PHOTO/Courtesy
Action in a previous Nanyuki Rally. PHOTO/Courtesy

Newly crowned Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) Two-Wheel Drive champion Eric Bengi has fired a warning shot to the big boys he is coming after them next season after shifting gears to the Group N category for next season.

Bengi who was crowned titleholder on Saturday evening after the season ending KCB Guru Nanak Rally in Soysambu Conservancy in Naivasha is out to test his wits against the likes of Ian Duncan, Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo and KNRC champion Tapio Laukannen.

“It’s been great to end the season as a champion in the 2WD, and now focus on preparing for next season when I will be racing in the 4WD category. I need to learn a lot before the new season but I am ready for it and raring to go,” Bengi told Citizen Digital

With Tapio having won the KNRC championship with an edition to spare, the real battle in the season ending Guru Nanak Rally was for the 2WD crown where Bengi beat his fiercest rival Alex Lairangi to the crown at the event where only 17 out of the 43 drivers who started the got to the finish line.

“It’s an amazing feeling. I am so happy for myself and for my team too. We have had a very tough season but at the end of it all, we have achieved our target of being champions,” Bengi added in delight.

He had started the day with a 13 point cushion from the second placed Lairangi and he adopted a slow drive in order to reduce the risks of dropping out of the race, a tactic he says he has employed in his last three outings.

“I chose to race slowly to avoid crashing out because that would just ruin it all for me. It was tough though but in the end I managed to win the race and the championship too. It was a happy ending,” Bengi explained.

Lairangi was unfortunate not to make it to the finish line after dropping out early alongside Tapio who retired out with a mechanical front damper while his teammate Manvir Baryan’s car rolled out.

Tanzania’s Dhani and Sudle bowed out 8kms from start of Comptitive Section 1 with Engine problems.

Bengi who grew up watching the sport has now shifted attention to etching his name in the senior category, a move that will see him ditch his Toyota Runx car for a Subaru Impreza N12 model.

“I will drive a new car next season, and therefore I need time to learn the machine and also do enough practice. My team and I are weighing up options on learning about the senior racing from established drivers before the start of the new season,” Bengi underscored.

He lauded his navigator Tuta Mionki who won the Co-drivers award in the just concluded Guru Nanak Rally.

“Tuta has been fantastic all season and very encouraging and thus I’m very happy for her,” he added.

Rajbir Rai won Guru Nanak while Jaspreet Chatthe and Duncan rounded the podium.

-Report by Alex Kinyua

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