By Ochieng Oyugi | 1 week ago
Race to the 2021 Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) series crown is definitely over with only one round to go.
Reigning continental champion Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo braved the heat to win the eighth round of the circuit in Thika at the weekend.
The Thika victory took his winning tally to four, having won the ARC Equator Rally in Naivasha in April in his Minti Motorsport VW Polo R5.
Tundo also triumphed in the Machakos and Nanyuki rallies in his R4 Evolution machine.
“It’s such a great feeling to have won in Thika,” he said.
Navigated by his longstanding co-driver Tim Jessop in a Mitsubishi Evolution 10, Tundo combed the Thika terrains to edge out his closest challenger Baldev Chager by a whisker.Chager had hoped to successfully defend this year’s crown, but the courses have been brutal to him in the various legs held.
“We got a puncture in the opening stage in Thika and began our recovery on the second stretch,” said Tundo.
Tundo rallied from fifth fastest in the opening 30km Buffalo Hills section where he picked up a puncture, but pulled through with first fastest on SS2 Ananas stage.
Chager made good progress as the rally went on. Despite finishing second, Chager picked bonus championship points for winning the power stage, which was the repeat run of Ndula stretch.
His navigator, Ravi Soni, was nevertheless left to rue their first loop experience, which was a nightmare, more so at the Buffalo Hills, which was the toughest in the seven stage rally.
“It was a difficult day for us. Our rear left driveshaft broke at the SS1. We went in three wheel drive,” said Soni.
“We also stopped to check what exactly happened and we lost over a minute on that. Coming back to the last loop, we took all the three stages. Buffalo was actually a very difficult one.”
Out of the 16 starters who commenced the high-attrition Thika contest, only seven managed to conquer the demanding terrains at the Mount Kenya University, Thika Campus, which also hosted the service park, the rally headquarters and the 3.2km Super Special Stage which was at the Graduation Pavilion.
During the championship, three competitors; Peiro Canobbio, Aakif Virani and Steve Mwangi were disqualified for going off the route.
Both Piero and Aakif were fined Sh20,000 for deviating from the course twice. Mwangi, on the other hand, was also fined Sh20,000 and a further Sh10,000 for failing to honour the summons of the stewards.
The trio was found to be in breach of Article 11.11B of the KMSF National Competition Rules (NCRs).
The rough and tough nature of the Rallye Sports Club (RSC) round also claimed a number of drivers including Eric Bengi, who kissed the event goodbye barely 2km into the opening stage at the Buffalo Hills.
FIA star driver McRae Kimathi came fourth in his Ford Fiesta Rally 3 car.