By OSCAR PILIPILI
|Joe Muchiri during a past rally. [PHOTO:FILE/STANDARD|
The hills around Malindi region will reverberate with the roar of turbo-charged machines when the season opening event of the 2014 KCB Kenya National Rally Championship heads there.
Organised by the Mombasa Motor Club, the event will see most of the crews retain the cars they used in the last season as others unveil new cars.
Malindi has not been used since Kenya Commercial Bank came on board as title sponsors for the rally sport in 2003. Malindi should offer crews beautiful and remote roads ideal for maximum attack.
As preparations for the new season begin, there has been some good-humoured rivalry among competitors, with some bantering over who will come out tops.
Two-time former Two Wheel Drive Champion Leonardo Varese is looking forward to a great run in the coastal terrain and a fight with defending champion Dennis Mwenda of Daddy’s World Motors.
Mwenda says he is ready for Varese in what has been envisaged as a great Formula Two showdown for Toyotas.
Mwenda, in a Toyota Sprinter GT, will be navigated by Edward Njoroge who is the championship winning navigator last year.
‘love a good fight’
“I can’t wait to cruise in Malindi,” said Varese who is driving a Toyota Corolla RSI.
Mwenda, on the other hand, said: “I am ready for the season. I love a good fight. We are keeping the 2WD alive for the sake of the sport.”
Female navigator Linet Ayuko said she’s actually looking forward to growing more in the sport and excelling.
“We shall definitely be rallying in 2014, God willing, still with Phyllis (Wambui). Our partnership has been great and a good learning experience for both of us. We’ve gelled well and I thank God for the opportunity to navigate her as she has became a sister and a friend,” said Ayuko.
Meanwhile, rumour has it that some top KNRC drivers are reconsidering upgrades to state-of-the-art Group N cars.
But Manvir Baryan, a KNRC Division 2 driver who has been linked to a Proton S2000 vehicle, has denied the talk.
Baryan, who finished in the top 10 during the KQ Safari Classic Rally, says he will stick to the same N16 vehicle he used in 2013.
“I’m using same car (Subaru N16) this year. The proton S2000 would be good but it’s not the best S2000 car out there,” said Baryan.
Super 2000, also known as S2000, is an FIA specification and classification for production-based race cars. The specification is split to cover both rally and touring car racing.
Super 2000 rally cars are also permitted to compete in Super 2000 World Rally Championship events.
Other new cars gracing the Kenyan racing roads include an EVOX by Athman brothers Khalfan and Abdulaziz, and an EVO9 by Asad Anwar.
“Hopefully, we should be racing if we secure sponsorship,” said Khalfan.
Eric Bengi has acquired a Two Wheel Drive RunX while former KNRC Division Two Driver Charles Hinga is said to be plotting a 2WD comeback in a Toyota Corolla RSI.