Peerless Tapio extends KNRC lead after Eldoret Rally win
Finnish ace Tapio Laukannen stormed to his fourth successive victory in the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) to extend his lead at the top of the standings when he prevailed in Eldoret on Saturday.
The Flying Finn once again had no equal in his Subaru R4 after overcoming two consecutive punctures and replacing his rear transmission with the speed merchant taking charge of the KCB Eldoret Rally from CS1 at Ilula when he held a one second lead over national champion, Jaspreet Chatthe.
“It’s such a great success for us and the people back home in Finland’s especially my little boy,” the excited Tapio said after leaving his rivals chocking in his dust.
His Multiple Racing teammate Manvir Baryan navigated by Drew Sturrock finished 52 seconds behind in a Ford Fiesta ahead of the first local, Rajbir Rai who closed the podium ahead of Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo.
Rajbir savoured the podium finish for the second year running saying, “It was a good day for us. We were first on the road so we were a bit cautious.”
The Eldoret outing was a tale of resilience and misfiring engines as drivers criss-crossed Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties battling for top honours.
Six times champion Ian Duncan retired after CS 1 a turbo problem in his Mitsubishi EVO.
“There isn’t much we could do requiring two hours to fix it back,” the dejected veteran who won the 1994 Safari Rally rued.
Laukannen navigated by compatriot Pasi Torma chalked up his second successive KNRC triumph after taking the honours in Nanyuki with victory in the Western Kenya Motor Club organised round seeing the Finn seal his hat-trick in the local circuit.
Manvir took over the lead of the rally by scoring his second fastest stage of the day at the end of CS5 and was seven seconds ahead of Tapio who went on to clinch the remaining four stages of the second loop to pull through in awesome fashion.
Tapio won six of the nine stages at stake, Manvir two with Chatthe taking CS2.
The rocky terrain proved quite unforgiving to some top drivers including Chager and Duncan who went out on CS1 and CS6 respectively.
Tapio driving a Subaru R4 car clocked 1:26.19 hours to secure his fourth victory of the season after ruling the season opening Kajiado Rally, Wundanyi and Nanyuki in August.
After six rallies, Tapio extended his lead on the KNRC by 25 points over Chatthe who was time barred after second service.
“It was a good day in the morning. I mean we started really well but towards the end of the fourth stage we damaged our front left arm which caused a puncture.
“We had to stop to change the puncture in the stage and by the time we came back we replaced the arm, got back to the end of the rally only to be told that we were time barred,” the deflated Chatthe rued.
-Additional reporting by John Wanyama
Top 10 Results-KCB Eldoret Rally
1. Tapio Laukannen (Subaru R4) 1h26m19s
2. Manvir Bryan (Ford Fiesta R4) 1h27m11s
3. Rajbir Rai (Ford Fiesta) 1h29m37s
4. Carl Tundo (Ford Fiesta Proto) 1h31m34s
5. Tejveer Rai (Evolution X) 1h33m57s
6. Amaanraj Rai (Evolution X) 1h34m15s
7. Piero Cannobio (Evolution 10) 1h35m16s
8. Jasmeet Chana (Evolution X) 1h35m58s
9. Mahesh Halai (Subaru N12) 1h38m28s
10. Asad Khan Kalulu (Subaru) 1h38m58s
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