Rai vrooooms to his maiden rally win

PHOTO | ANWAR SIDI Rajbir Rai, navigated by Tim Challen, powers his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10 forward during the spectator stage of the Malindi Rally on February 1, 2014. Former winner Ian Duncan will miss this year’s round of the KCB Kenya National Rally Championship in Nanyuki on Friday.

What you need to know:

  • The 23-year-old leaves big boys choking on clouds of dust to claim victory in Nakuru race
  • Series leader Baldev returns second, Duncan third while birthday boy Azar finishes sixth

There is a new kid on the rally block. Rajbir Rai secured his first-ever career victory of the Kenya National Rally Championship by winning the KCB Nakuru Rally in a Mitsubishi Lancer EVOX on Saturday.

It was also navigator Tim Cullen’s first taste of victory though he has been in the scene longer than his driver.

Rajbir, 23, who made his rally debut two seasons ago, finally outclassed his seniors to win one of the most significant rallies of the season. He is the son of Sarbi Rai, the former national champion.

“I am really excited to have won my first rally though I must say I was lucky because of Ian’s punctures. It is good feeling. I thank my dad for all the tips and support he has continued to give me,’’ said Rajbir.

Safari Rally and National champion Baldev Chager survived a flu all day long to finish second at the wheels of the Mitsubishi Lancer EVOX with his navigator Ravi Soni.

RUNDO FIZZLES OUT

The crew has regained the lead of the overall standings of the KNRC with 220 points. KCB Director Retail Banking Division, Annastasia Kimtai and Baringo County Governor, Benjamin Cheboi flagged off the cars from the KCB Bank in Eldama Ravine.

The highly anticipated fireworks from the Proton ST2000 of Carl Tundo fizzled out earlier than expected after it hit a culvert barely five kilometers into the first competitive stage of the day.

It put an end to Tundo’s chances of extending his lead at the top of the series, and also Proton’s second victory on the trot after its debut victory in the last rally.

“It was a bad note that did not go well after trailing in Baldy’s dust. That is part of rallying. We ripped off the wheel after hitting a culvert in the first stage. Car is ok though sad to retire so early,’’ said Tundo, the former national champion.

TWO PUNCTURES

Ian Duncan’s chances of winning his first rally of the season ended after his Mitsubishi Lancer suffered two punctures while in the lead.

He finally finished third while Jaspreet Chatthe was fourth barely a week after securing second place in Zambia’s round of the 2014 African Rally Championship. Three-time national champion, Azar Anwar was placed sixth on his 60th birthday.

Alasdair Keith/Tariq Malik (Subaru GC8) were eighth, followed by Mahesh Halai/Ketan Halai (10th - Subaru N12) and Steven Mwangi/Steven Nyorri (11th -Subaru N10) respectively.

Keith won Group S for the second time running. Among the leading casualties were Raaji Bharij, Galib Hajee and Tejvir Rai.

Gurmit Thethy won the Fomula Two class in his VW Golf followed Eric Bengi and Leo Varese respectively.  The Classic Class was won by Jonathan Somen followed by Aslam Khan and Ian Freestone respectively.

Nanyuki will host the next KCB rally on 27/28 July.

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