Flying Finn Tapio crowned 2016 KNRC champion at last


Finnish driver Tapio Laukannen (right) has been crowned the 2016 KNRC Champion after an appeal lodged ...
Finnish driver Tapio Laukannen (right) has been crowned the 2016 KNRC Champion after an appeal lodged against him was withdrawn on Monday, November 7, 2016. PHOTO/Courtesy

Tapio Laukkanen finally laid his hands on the coveted Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) title on Monday after outgoing champion Jaspreet Chatthe and his co-driver Gugu Panesar withdrew their appeal against the Finnish national.

The matter had been referred to the Kenya Motor Sports Federation appeals court following the penultimate 2016 KNRC round- KCB Kitengela Rally- on Sunday after Chatthe filed a complaint against the Finn with Tapio launching a counter-appeal.

Tapio sealed the KNRC title after finishing fourth behind winner Rajbir Rai, Manvir Baryan and Chatthe but was compelled to cool his heels pending the verdict of the two protests.

Chatthe lodged a protest against what he termed an illegal airflow box on Tapio’s Subaru GVB13 R4 car but the former British and Finnish champion countered claiming Chatthe was towed out of the last stage by one of the rally drivers when his car stalled.

“We refer to our protest lodged yesterday (Sunday) against car No. 2 and the subsequent appeal. In the interest of harmony and competitor relations, we have reconsidered our position and herewith officially withdrew our protest and appeal.

“We feel that harmony will play a bigger role in the sport than the championship and towards a better spirit of competition. We congratulate Tapio Laukkanen and the entire MRT Racing for winning the KNRC 2016 Drivers championship. Best regards and wishes from Team KIBOS,” Chatthe’s navigator Panesar said in an email to the KMSF secretariat.

That paved the way for Tapio to be the first foreign winner of the domestic championship in a season where he has largely been untouchable.

Meanwhile, Tash Tundo and Chantal Louise Young have the KNRC Division 3 championship title in the bag after a consistent drive in the season.

The Hai Rally Chix entered their names in the annals of rallying history as the first ever all-female crew to lay their hands on the Division 3 diadem.

“I am so happy about it and I’m proud of the whole team! I think we have been so consistent this season and Chantal and I have got a partnership going now,” said Tash.

The Hai Rally Chix had their campaign effectively sewn up when his closest challenger Osman Abdullahi retired.

“We retired 8 km from end of rally when the front right wheel studs sheered and the tyre was recovered some 300 meters away in the bush,” said Osman.

Onkar Singh Rai and his co-driver Gareth Dawe won the KNRC Division 1 championship title after attaining an unassailable lead at penultimate stage as his closest class adversary Jasmeet Channa can’t catch even by winning the last round in Naivasha at the end of the month.

-Shamba Boyz-

Shamba Boyz driver Mahesh Halal was all smiles after sealing the KNRC Division 2 diadem incidentally in the absence of his nephew and regular navigator Ketan Halai.

Eric Bengi who is also gunning for 2WD honors is assured of second position in Division 2 even if he skips the last round.

Ian Duncan won the Group N Driver championship despite not finishing.

Duncan’s navigator, Amar Slaatch has a tougher competition in the co-drivers championship.

Chandu Devji skipped the rally and will now be compelled to fight for the Group S honors on homestretch with Edward Maina.

Kitengela had two S class drivers in Maina and Taiti Wachira who never scored points as for not raising a quorum of three.

Maina is just four points behind Chandu.

Asad Khan and his navigator Harshil Limbani were all smiles with the  already  SPV Class title in the bag.

Eric Beginning has a 14 points buffer from Alex Lairangl after winning his fourth class of the season. Tuta Mionki is 11 points away from becoming the first lady to claim a Two Wheel Drive since Carol Wahome. But first she has to dispose Anthony Gichohi from the pole position.

The KCB Guru Nanak Rally on November 26 will bring down the curtains on the KNRC 2016.

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Story By Mutwiri Mutuota
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