What you need to know:
- Rally driver defies disability to return to the sport that nearly killed him years ago.
By finishing the KCB Nakuru Rally at the weekend, Nikhil Sachania has proved that disability is not inability.
And the physically disabled Sachania has emerged as one of the most daring rally drivers to ever grace the Kenya National Rally Championship series.
Young Sachania’s rallying career was almost cut short after a quad bike overturned and landed on him during a training session in the outskirts of Athi River.
But the 23-year-old, now consigned to a wheelchair, made a remarkable recovery and made his rally debut in Nakuru at the weekend, where tears of joy were shed when he was spotted being carried out of his customised Mitsubishi Challenger rally car to receive the prize for finishing the event after returning 31st.
Kiran Patel, a co-driver of Sachania’s father during his rallying days, said he was overwhelmed when he saw the young boy being carried to the ramp at the prize-giving ceremony.
“Like his friends and relatives, it was touching to see the young boy’s determination to return to the sport that almost killed him years back. Many of us could not hide our tears. Well done to the father for encouraging him to stay in the sport,’’ said Patel.
It was big joy for Sachania after finishing the race.
“About two and half years ago, I had a quad bike accident at Athi River. I hit a ditch at a high speed, fell and broke my back and I was paralyzed from the waist down,’’ Sachania said.
Instead of mourning over his fate, he returned to the sport to prove that disability is not an excuse to keep away from something one desires to do in life.
“I have slightly adjusted the roll cage on the driver’s side to make it easier for me to get in and out. There is a foot plate in front of the pedals so that my legs don’t accidentally hit the accelerator or brake,” Sachania added.
“The main modification is to the hand control of both the accelerator and brake cables. It is a simple push-and-pull mechanism that is available in the market.’’
He further went on to explain about other sensitive workmanship on the machine: “The modification included the push and pull lever for the accelerator. It was placed in such a manner that one hand on the lever while the other handled the steering wheel.’’
When asked if he had any special training here at home or abroad on the art of handling a rally with such serious handicap, he was quick to say no such sessions were available apart from his personal commitments, such as spending weekends to get used to the new rally.
The car was prepared by Charan Singh, a childhood friend and also his navigator who made his rally debut in the Nakuru event.
His final words were with a big smile: “My plan is to have a good time in the sport, enjoy the stages as I continue to get used to the car before I can start looking for better results. It is definitely possible.’’