LAUKKANEN CLOSE TO TITLE:The Finn is only 21 points away from being declared 2016 Champion

Tapio Laukkanen navigated by Pasi Torma driving Subaru Impreza during a past Machakos Rally. [PHOTO: FILE]

A high-octane, adrenaline-filled show is expected at the seventh leg of KCB Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) slated for Kitengela this weekend.

Series leader and Finnish daredevil Tapio Laukkanen will be the focal point as he strives to maintain and widen the 29-point gap he has set between him and his closest challenger Jaspreet Chatthe.

“So far so good for me, but I have to keep on pushing harder and harder as everyone is interested in the title,” noted Laukknen who is co-driven by his country mate Pasi Torma.

Should the duo triumph in the seventh leg then they will be declared the 2016 KNRC overall winners.

“We are very optimistic of grabbing a fourth victory in the series. Our game plan is to amass the required 21 points in Kitengela to be crowned this year’s champions. We will be cautious enough especially in the challenging last stage, but hopefully Pasi and I can make history in Kenya”, said Laukkannen.

Third-placed Rajbir Rai with 79 points has also fired salvo, warning Chatthe and Laukkanen to brace for a hair-raising battle as he is confident of pulling a surprise in Kitengela since he is well-versed with the terrain and ready for the showpiece.

Even though six times champion Ian Duncan is among the race favorites, he has been a pale shadow of himself, especially in the sixth leg in Eldoret that saw him settle for fourth place on the standings with 72 points.

Duncan, with his Evolution X machine, will be hoping to renew his rivalry with other Kenyan speedsters after the struggle, and might just be the leg winner if Laukkanen fails to hold on to his nerves.

Other top Kenyan drivers who are listed for the Kitengela leg are Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo who will power a Proto Ford Fiesta, Manvir Baryan, Onkai Rai and Baldev Chager.

Several high-tech machines are expected to add immense zest into the Kitengela outing. The battle of engines has classic Ford Escorts and Porsches, 2WD Toyotas, Group N Mitsubishi Evolutions, Subaru’s, R4s and Ford Fiesta R5s.

Drew Sturrock from Britain will be navigating Baryan in his Ford Fiesta R5. The R5 has been the talk of town over the past few weeks after claiming a podium finish in Eldoret.

The field of navigators is led by Gurdeep Panesar with 111 points, followed by Greg Stead, Tim Jessop and Amar Slatch.

The race will rev-off from KCB Kitengela Branch on Sunday at 7am, with the drivers heading on a 22.9km CS 1 in Kajiado town. The rally cars will tackle each stage thrice before heading to Kajiado Airstrip for the prize giving ceremony at 5pm on Sunday evening.

The competitive mileage will be 140km with a liaison distance of 133km totalling 27km.

According to the Clerk of Course, Gurvir Bhabra, it’s all systems go for the weekend rally.

“The route will be challenging for the drivers and navigators and we have put in place safety measures to ensure that the rally goes down successfully,” said Bhabra

Hundreds of spectators are expected to gather at the ceremonial start venue to wave off competitors outside the KCB Kitengela Branch, along the route, at Kona Baridi, a favourite for fans as well as at the spectator stage at Kajiado Air strip.

The KCB Kitengela rally scrutineering will be held on October 5 at the Sikh Union club in Nairobi with the reconnaissance taking place along Kajiado road.

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