Penalties mar Safari Rally as Tapio claims overnight lead


W.Kepher navigated by S.Kalema cruises through spectators stage during the 65th African Rally ...
W.Kepher navigated by S.Kalema cruises through spectators stage during the 65th African Rally championship at Jamhuri Park spectators stage on March 17, 2017. Photo/Oliver Ananda/www.sportpicha.com

National champion Tapio Laukkanen took the overnight lead of the 65th edition of Kenya’s round of the African Rally Championship on a dramatic opening day that saw eight cars penalized 10 minutes each for defaulting on the competition’s rules.

Jaspreet ‘Jassi’ Chatthe driving a Mitsubishi Evolution X who looked set to take one-second overnight lead was among those punished for taking a short cut in Competitive Section (CS) 5 which was at the Aberdares Hills.

Baldev Chager who was navigated by Ravi Soni and Ugandan Muna Singh Jnr, Asad Khan, Duncan Mubiru ,Christakis Fitidis, Yassin Naser and Hassan Alwi from Uganda who is navigated by his countryman Enoch Olinga were also found culpable.

The drivers are said to have broken the provisions of Art 40.6 of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) Regional rally regulations.

According to the provision, ‘all rallies in the championship, live tracking, data recording and emergency signaling devices must be used to monitor position, movement and status of the competing cars at all times, failure to which one will be subjected to a 10-minute penalty’.

The drivers are now awaiting the final results of day one to determine where they lie after the penalty.

Earlier during the ceremonial flag off, it was announced that the Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Arts and Culture, Dr. Hassan Wario and Kenya Motor Sports Federation Chairman Phineas Kimathi will appear before Parliamentary Budget Committee on Monday to defend their proposal for the government to sponsor the country’s bid to restore the Safari as a WRC round.

Speaking at KICC, Wario declared the government is committed to this course which gained traction last when the government wrote to the WRC Promoter promising total support.

The premier event billed as the toughest rally in the world was pulled off the WRC calendar in 2003.

Chager was the first off the ramp before the cars moved to Jamhuri where a large crowd enjoyed the drivers competing on a dual track.

Duncan in his Liquid Telecommunications livery car showed his mettle by putting up the fastest time through CS1.

The Safari will end on Saturday at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru with the winning vehicle expected at 4pm

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