Chaotic Nyeri Rally irks drivers

PHOTO | ANWAR SIDI Ian Duncan's damaged car after a head-on collision with an ambulance at Stage 9.

What you need to know:

  • Authorities blamed for poorly organised KNRC event that was marred by near fatal accidents

Reigning champion Carl Tundo was in an imperious form when he stormed to victory in the KCB Nyeri Rally at the weekend, the second leg of the Kenya National Rally Championship series.

Tundo’s first win of the season was, however, dented by two major mishaps, one involving the Mitsubishi Lancer of speedster Ian Duncan and an ambulance of the medical crew.

The former national champion and his navigator, Amar Slatch, survived a near-fatal accident after their Mitsubishi Lancer rally car crashed heavily into a Toyota Land-cruiser belonging to the medical team of the rally.

Duncan said he was disappointed that stages were not properly manned, allowing such a vehicle to move into the section while rally cars were already racing.

“We thank God we are all Okay. It could have been worse. If it were not for the safety apparatus inside our rally cars, it could have been fatal,” said Duncan.
Azar Anwar, who finished fourth, was blocked by an ambulance in the Nanyuki Rally last year.

“Thank God we are Okay. The ambulance crew should have known not to be on the road during the rally. It happened to us last year when Julius and I were first on road in Nanyuki, where we were blocked by an ambulance. This time it could easily have been fatal,” Anwar said.

Former national champion, Baldev Chager, also expressed his frustrations, saying: “This rally was definitely not up to standards. After the fiasco in the same event last year, organisers should have learnt their lessons. What happened to Ian was sad because it could have been avoided.

“It will cost him a fortune to fix the car. We have such a good championship but we are failing in crowd control, drink driving and injuries to spectators. Surely, with all the available funds, these situations can be controlled.

Restore sanity

“It’s also not fair that we are still waiting for correct results to be published. As drivers and investors in this sport it worries us. We love the sport and we all want to see progression we must work towards making it better at every given opportunity.”

Quentin Mitchell, who was navigated by Robin Dimbleby in a Subaru N16, returned third but was equally a disappointed man.

“The Nyeri rally was poorly organised. It’s sad because we had our lives endangered by on-coming traffic. It was also strange to see organisers sending the official vehicle against rally traffic!

“Then you had people walking around in parc ferme where even drivers are not allowed in till 10 minutes before their departure time. It was just chaotic,” said Mitchell.

Duncan’s was the second accident to dent the image of the event after a car, driven by an unruly spectator, rammed into a group of fans on the opening day of the competition.

Sadly, these accidents weren’t the only things that went wrong on the day. The failure to publish the official results on time didn’t go down well with drivers.

Former national navigator champion, Supee Soin, who recently returned to the competition after years out of action, said: “I came back to rallying after a 17-year break to assist young Rai. But what happened in Nyeri was a disaster. KMSF should fix their its house and restore sanity in rallying.”

Contacted, the Kenya Motor Sports Federation chairman, Roy Mackenzie, admitted that organisers failed to take safety measures for both drivers and spectators, saying they will be addressed very strongly in the coming events.

“It is unfortunate few things went wrong. It won’t happen again. There was a power blackout which forced the results officer to shut his system down. We failed to realise the importance of a generator as backup machinery,” said Mackenzie.