Kenya National Rally Championship leader Karan Patel has taken the battle for the 2022 African Rally Championship (ARC) gong to the wire following his victory in the fifth leg of the continental series in Kigali, Rwanda on Sunday evening.
The Kenyan speed ace now lies second overall in the ARC standings on 105 points behind Zambian couple Leroy and Urshlla Gomes who are on 126.
The win in Kigali was the third in the series for Patel who also bagged the Kenyan and Tanzanian legs of the series.
Following his triumph in Rwanda, the title of this year’s championship will now be decided on the final leg of the circuit in Zambia that is slated for October 21-23.
This means Patel will have to work extra hard and prepare adequately as the Zambians, who will be racing at home, will enjoy all the support of their mad rally fans who are expected to come out in large numbers to cheer the racing couple.
“I hope to bank on experience as I tackle this rally. There is still great opportunity to go top being that there is still one more leg to do in Zambia next month,” Patel told Standard Sports.
On Sunday, Patel, while navigated by his long term partner Tauseef Khan, stormed to his third ARC victory in 01:19:40.3 in the Rwandan leg dubbed Mountain Gorilla Rally.
This was a real blessing following the misfortune on Saturday which saw his engine misfire.
Patel took control of the penultimate round on the closing day with a total of seven fastest times in his Ford Fiesta Rally2 to secure the victory by a 13.21 seconds margin.
Patel had gone to bed on Saturday with a 13 seconds deficit behind Gomes and spent the better part of the Sunday morning trying to catch up with his rivals.
Gomes who also competed in a Ford Fiesta Rally2 had high hopes of sealing the title in Rwanda but this was not to be after settling for second place in 01:19:53.5.
“Second place is a good results for us, it just means the battle will end in Zambia. Our choice of gear box didn’t suit the Rwandan terrain. We opted for a short ratio gear box instead of the long one, and that’s what cost us in this event, or rather the win,” Gomes wrote on their social media pages.
Sealing the podium dash in Rwanda was Kenya’s youngster Hamza Anwar who clocked 01:21:21.8 in his Ford Fiesta Rally3 machine.
“It’s quite a great feeling today in the Fiesta. We maintained a steady pace behind the Rally2s of Karan and Gomes which were really fast,” Anwar said.