Tundo says it will take long before a Kenyan driver can win Safari Rally

Carl Tundo from Kenya navigated by Tim Jessop driving Skoda Fabia crosses a river at Soysambu Ranch during WRC Safari Rally Kenya 2023 event on June 24, 2023.[Stafford Ondego, Standard]

With new measures introduced in the World Rally Championship (WRC) series, Kenyan drivers have a long way to go before they can win the WRC Safari Rally.

They had won the event in the past with the old fashioned machines but not with the current powerful rally cars.

First and foremost, most of the local drivers are not fully sponsored compared to their counterparts.

Secondly, they lack the financial power that could enable them compete against some of the world renowned drivers anywhere in the world and win the rally or rallies.

Sound financial ability is another factor that allows motorsports drivers to purchase powerful machines that are factory made meant for rallying purposes.

Inexperience on African drivers make them not to attract huge sponsorships from global car manufacturers like Toyota and Hyundai.

"Their (professional drivers) cars have great horsepower compared to what we have locally," said former Safari Rally champion Carl Tundo who is competing in the same event on Scobia Fabia machine co-driven by long-time ally Tim Jessop.

Tundo, a farmer, won the event a number of times when it was not part of the WRC legs.

He said the machines driven by former world champion Frenchman Sebastien Ogier and current champion Finnish Kalle Rovanperra are expensive and beyond their reach.

"These cars are factory made and have great horsepower compared to what we always use here," Tundo said.

He said once the Kenyan rally chapter was accorded the WRC status, it became a different competition and a different ballgame altogether.

"It comes with tough measures, which some of us cannot afford because they involve huge financial capital that we don't have," Tundo told Standard Sports in Naivasha.

Again, most local rally drivers are not professional.

"They do it for fun as they compete the world bests," said Tundo, a fact Kenya National Rally Championships winner Karan Patel agrees.

"Some of us work elsewhere and come to rally as a hobby but since we love it, we just get an exposure against the world best," Karan had earlier told Standard Sports.

Karan said full sponsorship is what matters in the world of motorsports.

"With full sponsorship, a driver is bound to do better as opposed to partial sponsorships, which we are always used to in this part of the world," he said.

Karan who's driving a Ford Fiesta R5 with co-driver Tauseef Khan is part of the 12 Kenyan drivers in the rally with partial sponsorship but ready to compete against the world best.

"We'll do with what we have but be assured we cannot beat them (the best sponsored drivers) with factory moulded machines," he said.

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