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Bengi seeking podium finish at Safari Classic Rally

 Eric Bengi's Opel Kadett machine which he will be using at the 2023 East Africa Classic Safari Rally. [Courtesy]

The COP28 Summit is ongoing in Dubai and one of its key messages which is to support sustainable actions on climate change is reverberating in Kenya.

A number of drivers, both local and foreign, have already planned to create awareness on climate change during the 11th edition of the East African Safari Classic Rally (EASCR) that revs-off at Vipingo Ridge in Kilifi on Saturday.

One of the speedsters taking steps towards a greener future for sustainability is Eric Bengi.

As the concerns on climate change and environmental pollution continue to rise, Bengi is leaving nothing to chance in the implementation and measures to sensitise the public on climate change.

He will drive this narrative in an Opel Kadett machine.

Bengi made his debut at the gruelling event last season in a Datsun 180B which he used to spread cancer awareness message.

"We are happy to be back again for the rally. We hope for a better finish this season. We are very optimistic that the Opel Kadett will fair on well on the tough terrains of the rally being such a light and swift car," Bengi told Standard Sports.

"We will be racing our car under 7-70 Motorsports livery and we are proud to be “Racing for Sustainability”;  for environmental protection and restoration," he said.

During the gruelling 4000km journey that will traverse 11 Kenyan counties, Bengi and his navigator Mindo Gatimu will plant trees with the community at Mabirikani Primary School in Kilifi County.

"As part of our responsible racing and to reduce our carbon footprint, we will plant a tree for every kilometer that we race.

"For this project, we have partnered with Kilifi County Government, Ndovu Cement & Aggregates and the EASCR," he said.

The Kenya National Rally Championships (KNRC) Four Wheel Drive Turbo Autocross champion hopes to ruffle feathers in the 10-day classic rally extravaganza which they are targeting a podium finish if not the victory.

"Mindo is a very seasoned navigator, an astute rider, driver and mechanic, all in one package. For the Classic you need an old hand in the game.

"We are calling upon our entire country to join hands with us as we do our racing at the same time planting trees for a safe and sustainable environment," Bengi said.

Bengi is an all round driver who also participates in motor rallying and circuit championships like RX Motorsports and the Autocross.

He is a former Two Wheel Drive title holder and a KNRC double champion in Division One and Group N categories.

The 2023 Classic Safari has set a record with the highest number of entries in history, however due to limitations, only 63 entries will be participating from  December 9–18.

Of the 63 drivers, 44 are foreigners who will battle for honours in the cutthroat event.

The rally will rev off with a shakedown stage in Vipingo Ridge, offering competitors and organisers a taste of the unique terrain that Kilifi has to offer.

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