SECTIONS

Team Eight ready to conquer star-studded Machakos Rallycross championships

Kenyan Karan Patel navigated by Tauseef Khan driving Skoda Fiesta crosses a river during WRC Safari Rally Kenya 2022 in Nairobi on Saturday 25, 2022. [Stafford Ondego, Standard] 

Kenya has embarked on a journey to host the exciting and thrilling FIA World Rallycross Championship series.

This follows the success of the WRC Safari Rally that returned to the country in 2021 after a 19-year hiatus, with the 2022 edition concluded in Naivasha on June 26.

The local Rallycross exhibition race will be held this weekend at the expansive Machakos Peoples Park track.

The contest has attracted eight star-studded teams, among them is the Betika sponsored Team Eight that will be headlined by Time Trial (TT) ace Andrew Wanyoike Muiruri.

Other speedsters in Muiruri’s stable are budding lady driver Jennifer Malik, promising speed merchant Kay Wachira and Bob Kaugi who is still a force to reckon with in the sport in his sunset years.

Talented Malik will rake in points for the team in the ladies category where she is poised to battle the new Safari Rally WRC3 champion Maxine Wahome, media star Pauline Shegu, Lioness Rally runners up Tash Tundo and Lioness Rally founder Lisa Christoffersen among others.

“This will be my first big outing. I’m excited. I’m very confident to give other competitors a run for their money,” Malik told Standard Sports.

Malik has used various competitions including the Delta championships at the Whistling Moran and Karting series at The Great Rift Valley Circuit to sharpen her skills ahead of the Rallycross showpiece.

Wachira, a three time TT champion, will forage for points for the group in the junior category where he will take on the likes of FIA- Star drivers Jeremy Wahome, McRae Kimathi and Hamza Anwar who are fresh from the grueling Safari Rally in Naivasha.

Wachira is expected to bring out his ‘A’ game in the contest following his recent multiple podium finishes in the TT races as well as a first runners-up place at the Kings of Karting Tournament.

Kaugi will battle for honours for the group in the veteran category. He is one driver who is famed for his endurance tactics that saw him complete tedious races like the East African Safari Classic Rally (EASCR) in 2003 and 2005.

In 2012, Kaugi bagged the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) Division Two category as a navigator.

He also performed impressively as a co-driver in the 2016 African Rally Championship series which was won by a Kenyan, Don Smith- father to Safari Rally youngest driver Rio Smith.

Muiruri will battle for the group in the champions category that has multiple national and continental winner Carl’ Flash’ Tundo, reigning EASCR champion Baldev ‘Singh’ Chager, former Nanyuki rally winner Asad Anwar, rally legend Ann Taieth, Eric Bengi, Tim Jessop among others.

Ahead of the event, Muiruri says they have prepared their Subaru Impreza N10 machine to the required world governing body FIA specifications.

“Even though the notice was short, we have completed assembling the car, we have made the vehicle very reliable for both tarmac and gravel that will be part of the contest.

“We have planned to do test drives at the Twisty Corners in Tatu City on Thursday and Friday before we head to Machakos,” the two time Champagne Park 4x4 champion said.

Muiruri says their target is for every team member to finish in their categories in order to amass cumulative points. The multiple TT podium finisher will bring the skills acquired from the WRC after taking part in the Safari Rally twice.

Other major events Muiruri has taken part in include the Muranga Hill Climb TT (second place), Masinga Dam Drag Race (second place), Whistling Moran TT (third place) and Nyaribo Airstrip TT (set a personal best time).

In Rallycross, drivers compete in their categories (champions, veteran, and junior, ladies) to earn points for their teams.

They engaged in multiple cars races together and just like Formula 1, contact is allowed. The first driver to cross the line is the winner.

The Machakos event will have heat qualifiers, quarterfinals and semis on Saturday with the finals set for Sunday.

Other categories to be showcased at the event include bike races, drifting, off-road trucks contest, Raid Truck race, celebrity time trial, TT Avs Race among others.

It will be a team prize event, there will be no individual awards. Machines allowed are the Subaru N10 and Mitsubishi EVO9.

QUOTE

“Rallycross will be the next big thing in Kenya after the Safari Rally. People will love it because of the challenges, dangers, excitement and the thrills involved.” Team Eight captain Andrew Muiruri.

The Machakos Rallycross line-ups

Team 8: Andrew Mururi (Champion), Jenniffer Malik (Ladies), Kay Wachira (Junior), Bob Kaugi (Veteran).

Team 7: George Njoroge (Champion), John Muchemi (Junior), John Ngugi (Veteran), Pauline Shegu (Ladies).

Team 6: Ann Taieth (Veteran), Pauline Shegu (Champion), Hellen Wambui (Junior), Lisa Christoffersen (Ladies).

Team 5: Asad Anwar (Champion), Geoff Bell (Veteran), McRae Kimathi (Junior), Nisha Pandya (Ladies).

Team 4: Eric Bengi (Champion), Mindo Gatimu (Veteran), Caroline Gatimu (Ladies), Rajveer Thethy (Junior).

Team 3: Baldev ‘Singh’ Chager (Champion), Tash Tundo (Ladies), Frank ‘The Tank’ Tundo (Veteran), Joseph Gacheche (Junior).

Team 2: Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo (Champion), Jeremiah Wahome (Junior), Joan Nesbitt (Ladies), Alastair Cavenagh (Veteran).

Team 1: Tim Jessop (Champion), Ron Oakley (Veteran), Maxine Wahome (Ladies), Hamza Anwar (Junior).