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Double KNRC champion Hechle eyeing podium finish at EASCR

MOTORSPORT By Ochieng Oyugi | January 27th 2022 | 2 min read


Jonathan Somen and Richard Hechle in action at a past event. [Courtesy]

The 2019 Kenya National Rally Championships Classic Class champions Jonathan Somen and Richard Hechle are targeting a podium finish in the tenth edition of the East African Safari Classic Rally (EASCR).

The duo have been seeded second alongside Andrew Siddall, Frank Tundo, Stefano Rocca, Van Cauwenberge, John Rose and David Danglard in the event slated for February 10-18, 2022.

The endurance kings will comb the 5000km journey that starts in Naivasha and ends in Watamu in a Ford Escort Mark 2. They will race under Team Scuderia Dagoretti.

“We have taken part in five classic rallies. In the last edition held in 2019, we were fifth overall which is our best ever performance,”Hechle told Standard Sports.

“Our target this season is a podium finish, we are going for position one.”

The 51-year old father of three says their car is already souped-up for the competition.

“We are very ready, we are just finalising sponsorships and branding. Essentially, the car is ready which is very fantastic,” said Hechle.

Hechle, who also doubles as Dimension Data East and West Africa Managing Director, saw his company boost the event with a Sh6 million sponsorship on Wednesday.

The support makes Dimension Data the Official Technology Partner for the competition.

The funds will help classic rally organisers to implement a technological roadmap to provide a rich digital experience for fans during the event.

This will include the Rally Center, which will bring together social media, commentary and tracking which will provide spectators with data-driven insights and Artificial Intelligence predictions across the EASCR website, social media pages and TV broadcast to bring them closer to the action.

Since there is no recce in classic rallies, Somen and Hechle will rely on their prior experiences in the Mini-Classic, held last November, and the Kenya National Rally Championships (KNRC) series.

“We won’t have any practice sessions other than testing the car a little bit in the garage. Mini-Classic was basically our training ground,” Hechle said.

Their fifth place finish in the Mini-Classic gives Hechle, who will call out pace-notes for Somen, great hopes ahead of the classic rally.

“We did well in the Mini, we sharpened our pace-notes and upped our endurance skills. We learnt to keep strong pace but not to overdo it early in the rally We hope these tactics will inspire us to the podium during the classic rally,” said Hechle.

Somen and Hechle have come along way in rallying. They were introduced to the sport ten years ago by their fathers Phillip (Hechle) and Michael (Somen).

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