Kyle Lucas: the pilot who wants to be fast on both land and air

Kenyan speedster Kyle Lucas in action during the 11th edition of the East African Safari Classic Rally on Friday. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Phoenix Aviation pilot Kyle Lucas is eager to convert his amazing flying skills into effective driving.

This is the reason the Private VIP Charter and Medical Evacuation flyer has put his life on the line at the ongoing East African Safari Classic Rally (EASCR) where he is hoping for a podium finish.

At the start of Day Six yesterday morning, Lucas and navigator Imran Ahmed were ranked 32nd out of the 63 drivers after provisionally clocking 11:27:50.7.

The 38-year-old Phoenix Aviation pilot says flying an aeroplane and driving a car have similarities which he is out to explore at the rally.

Lucas who has over 20 years of experience in flying is plying trade in a self-built Ford Escort Mark 2 at the rally.

"Flying and driving are similar, skills involved in controlling a plane works really well with cars," stated Lucas who started his flying journey at 17.

Being a first-timer in the grueling rally, Lucas says he's not eager to put himself under any pressure in the contest.

"The focus is to finish first as winning or landing on the podium will be an added advantage," he says.

"This event is very costly, it takes a lot of blood and sweat to be here, so if you get to the end of the 4000km journey that will be an amazing achievement," he says.

Apart from flying, Lucas was inspired into rallying by the family myth that their generation has been mechanics in the trade for ages.

"This started way back from my great grandparents' time, so I grew up around it, but I'm here to change that narrative. I have always wanted to be in the car and not working on it," he reiterated.

"Now, it's time to buck the trend, I'm humbled by the help and pieces of advice my friends have given me, it has really helped to turn this dream into reality."

Lucas believes all is possible in the ongoing rally following his 2012 stint when he emerged champion in his debut at the National Autocross Championships, a victory in the highly competitive event that even stunned him.

"The idea was to help me learn the sport and develop my home-built buggy in the first season, but surprisingly I went ahead and won the series," he recalls.

Lucas admits that him and Ahmed never had enough time to test their home-built Ford Escort MK2 ahead of the Classic Rally and this became a bit problematic in last week's Prologue at Vipingo Ridge which was won by Italian John Coyne.

"We only tested the car once at the Kasarani track, but this was not adequate as we should have done several trials with it to ensure the machine was perfect, so we had a few wrongs here and there in the shakedown, anyway the ultimate goal is to get out of the stages unscathed," he said.

While describing the Ford Escort MK2, Lucas said:

“It's been a lot of work and being a privateer makes it even harder. It’s been a journey and when we found the shell somewhere in Eldoret we had to do it over completely to be really ready.

"It’s a 1978 car, we had to import a lot of the parts. We have put a lot into this car. And here we are as privateers, halfway through it and still going.”

Lucas reiterates that the kind of experience he got in the Mini Classic Rally a few years ago as a navigator is now coming in handy during the ongoing Classic Rally.

"The skills are helping me to maneuver very tough terrains in this rally," he underlined.

Concerning his gelling and good chemistry with his co-driver, Lucas stated: "Ahmed is a family friend, we grew up together, he's my son's best friend, we've known each other for so many years, and we've both had the same goals."

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