Flawless Chatthe rules Safari Rally yet again
Jaspreet Singh Chatthe navigated by Gurdeep Panesar in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 10 R4 racked up his second straight KCB Safari Rally title as the 64th edition of the world-famous event ended following three days of hair raising thrills around Naivasha and Nairobi.
Chatthe who is also the reigning African and national champion did it with sheer bravado in the dusty and demanding volcanic ash soil terrain.
His calm and assured march to final service at Elementaita Lodge in Naivasha belied the excitement that was bubbling underneath- and at exactly 4 pm, it spilled over in a solid stream of joy at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre finishing ramp.
Jassi as he is fondly referred to by fans, found himself propelled to the summit of Safari when a slew of favourites among them Tapio Laukkanen, Baldev Chager and Carl Tundo suffered mechanical problems in the back-breaking Day 2 of the rally on Saturday.
Rajbir Rai who dominated the better part of Day Two took second place despite a 2:10 minutes penalty he incurred for a late check in at TC7.
Despite winning two of the three stages on Sunday, ‘Flying Finn’ Laukkanen sealed the podium dash 8.39 minutes behind the winner.
Navigated by Pasi Torma in a Subaru GVB 13 the Finn was left to rue the three punctures he picked up on both loops of Day 2 which was the longest and toughest of the Kenya Motor Sport Club organised showdown.
“We are very happy to have won the Safari for the second time running. Jassi drove extremely well this weekend. We had a good pace all through and the rhythm was really good. We also took it very cleanly on the technical sections just to ensure we do not clip any rocks,” said Chatthe’s navigator Gugu Panesar.
Ian Duncan came in fourth followed by Tundo who is expected to unveil his new rally monster (a Ford) in due course.
“We had two punctures, no breaks , no diff, so the car had its own issues. We borrowed it from Onkar (Rai) because our new car wasn’t here yet. The new car comes next week so hopefully it will be ready for the next rally,” said Tundo.
Out of 42 drivers who entered the event, only 21 survived the demanding event as Eric Njogu finished in a career best eighth thus clinching his maiden Kenya National Rally Championships top 10 berth.
Osman Abdullahi only on his second KNRC outing took 13th overall which was a repeat of his début at the Kisumu Rally last month.
Alex Lairang’i won the 2WD class while Ramesh Vishram was the sole finisher in the classic car category.
Duncan won Group N, Edward Maina Group S and Asad Khan ‘Kalulu” SPV class in a modified Subaru GC8 in the other categories of the competition.
Newly elected KMSF and veteran rally driver Phineas Kimathi who attended the ceremonial finish alongside Sports PS Richard Ekai said his priory will be to make Safari an international event.
Kimathi thanked Liquid Telecom for the unprecedented live stream of the Elementaita spectator stage.
Mombasa Motor Club will stage the fourth round of the KCB KNRC in Rukinga, Voi on July 23.
Overall Results -64th KCB Safari Rally 2016
1.Jaspreet Chatthe/Gurdeep Panesar (Mitsubishi Evo10), 2hr.21mins.49secs,
2. Rajbir Rai /Greg Stead (Ford Fiesta) 2.24.09,
3.Tapio Laukkanen/Pasi Torma (Subaru Impreza) 2.30.28,
4. Ian Duncan/Amaar Slatch (Mitsubishi Evo10)2.31.42,
5. Carl Tundo/Tim Jessop (Mitsubishi Evo10) 2.32.49,
6. Onkar Rai /Gareth Dawe (Mitsubishi Evo10) 2.34.98
7. Farhaaz Khan/Keith Henrie (Mitsubishi Evo9) 2.47.59
8. Eric Njogu /Tony Kimondo (Subaru Impreza N10) 2.49.29
9. Mahesh Halai /Ketan Halai (Subaru Impreza N12) 2.5.4,7
10. Asad Khan/Harshil Limbani (Subaru Impreza GC8) 2.56.52
11. Natasha Tundo/Chantal Young (Subaru Impreza) 3.11.30
12. Edward Maina/Steve Mbuthia (Subaru GC8) 3:16.43
13. Osman Abdullahi/Evans Mwenda (Subaru N19) 3:19.28
14. Chandrakant Devji/Julius Mwachuya (Subaru Impreza GC8) 3.22.29
15. Adil Mirza/Kashif Shaikh (Mitsubishi Evo9) 3.2341
16. Alex Lairangi/Anthony Gichohi (Toyota’s Sprinter GT) 3:26.02
17. Ramesh Vishram/Riyaz Ismail (Ford Escort) 2.34.36
18. Josiah Kariuki/John Ngugi (Subaru N11) 3:31.14
19.Geoff Mayes/Jamie Macavish (Land Rover Discovery) 3:36.12
20. Nikhil Sachania/Salim Khan (Fiat Abarth) 3:48.27
21. Leonardo Varese/Kigo Kareithi (Toyota Corolla RSI) 4:44.27
1. Jassi Chatthe
2. Rajbir Rai
3. Tapio Laukkanen
1. Ramesh Vishram
1.Asad Khan ‘Kalulu”
2. Adil Mirza
3. Geoff Mayes
1. Edward Maina
1. Alex Lairangi
2. Leonardo Varese
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