After retiring from the Safari, Eric Bengi was back in the groove when he chalked up a 2WD Class win during the weekend’s KCB Wundanyi Rally.
However, Bengi, who is running on Reigas suspension, had to contend with playing second fiddle to fast-rising Alex Lairang’i who despite finishing second in the Formula Two Class catapaulted to the summit. Partnering with Tonny Gichohi, Lairang’i improved his tally considerably to add up to his victory in the Safari. But it wasn’t smooth sailing for current championship leader on 80 points against Bengi’s 75 and Leo Varese’s 68.
Lairang’i checked into first service in Mwatate after losing the intercom as well as first and second gears but soldiered on to the very end.
“We have actually struggled in the opening loop with multiple problems and had to resort to sign language,” said Lairangi’s navigator Gichohi, adding: “It feels really fine to have the last laugh in an event where we really nursed our car to the finish.”
Varese suffered his first retirement since Kisumu 2015, ending his 100 per cent finish record on 10 rallies.
Sammy Nyorri came in third in his RunX to also make up for his Safari exit although he is technically out of the Formula Two race unless something unexpected happens to the top three. Nyorri, who runs Proflex suspension on his RunX, was nevertheless all smiles when he checked into the Rukinga finish.
Bengi described the weekend rally, which traversed the world-famous Taitas, as very tough and technical.
“We took a slow but sure approach and we are happy to finish clean. The road design is one of the best I have seen in the recent past,” he said.
“A mixture of everything - rocky, hills, Mickey Mouse, flat outs and all. Really fantastic racing in the Taitas,” said Bengi.
Varese was left to rue his exit but promised to make up for his Wundanyi undoing in the remaining four events.
“It is unfortunate that we had to lose our lead in the MMC round. The gearbox gave up on us and there was little we could do. We will have to fit in a new gearbox for the next event in Nanyuki,” he said.
Out of the 34 cars that started the rally, only 18 survived the demanding course. The event revved off from KCB Wundanyi Branch on Saturday morning and ended in Rukinga Ranch, 30km from Voi. The ceremonial start was graced by Taita Taveta Governor John Mruttu.
The KNRC series is sponsored by KCB, Liquid Telecom, Red Bull and Toyota Kenya.
The KCB Nanyuki Rally, which will be the fifth round of the 2016 KNRC, is slated for August 26-27 in the Loldaiga area.
Provisional Results - KCB Wundanyi Rally
1. Tapio Laukkanen 2:01.35
2. Jassi Chatthe 2:04.35
3. Ian Duncan 2:04.36
4. Quentin Mitchell 2:04.35
5. Imran Mogul 2:23.07
6. Mahesh Halai 2:25.24
7.Asad Kalulu 2:27.29
8. Frank Tundo 2:28.51
9. John Nganga 2:29.22
10. Steve Mwangi “Chifu” 2: 32.19
11. Aakif Virani 2:32.32
12. Eric Bengi 2:37.22
13. Dilraj Chatthe 2:38.07
14. Tash Tundo 2:41.19
15. Alex Lairang’i 2:41.19
16. Sammy Nyorri 2:45.56
17. Amaar Haq 2:49.22
18. Ramesh Vishram 3:05.14
2WD Standings after Wundanyi
1. Alex Lairang’i 80
2. Eric Bengi 75
3. Leo Varese 68
4. Sammy Nyorri 39