Karan takes early lead at Equator Rally
What you need to know:
- Patel piloted his Ford Fiesta through the eight timed stages with varying fortunes, and winning five with ease despite a near heart-stopping moment when the brakes of the Ford Fiesta R2 heated up and started failing
- This was a day of high attrition especially affecting Anwar who was challenging for the lead until SS6 when he retired with a broken left shaft belt
- Patel opened a 2 minutes 47 second lead over Jeremiah Wahome in a Ford Fiesta R3 after posting a cumulative time of 1 hour 49 minutes 21.3 seconds
Only 49.5km stands between Karan Patel and his first victory of the season in the Kenyan round of the Africa Rally Championship, Equator Rally on Sunday in Voi.
There are two stages in a repeat of Saturday’s morning pass which the national champion must clear for victory, barring any mechanical drawback or superior turn of speed from his challengers.
Patel piloted his Ford Fiesta through the eight timed stages with varying fortunes, and winning five with ease despite a near heart-stopping moment when the brakes of the Ford Fiesta R2 heated up and started failing, thereby slowing him down with Hamza Anwar, Jeremiah Wahome and Jas Mangat snarling behind his neck in second pass.
This was a day of high attrition especially affecting Anwar who was challenging for the lead until SS6 when he retired with a broken left shaft belt. He will hopefully rejoin the rally on Sunday aiming for a podium finish to earn valuable points in the Africa Rally Championship and fastest stage (s) times for his own satisfaction.
Patel opened a 2 minutes 47 second lead over Jeremiah Wahome in a Ford Fiesta R3 after posting a cumulative time of 1 hour 49 minutes 21.3 seconds.
Ugandan Yasin Nasser moved up the ladder to finish third in 1:54.45.8 followed by Aakif Virani who managed to have his car fixed on Friday evening after hitting a tree during qualifying round the same day.
Patel stormed into the lead in the opening 21km Charcoal stage, 33 seconds ahead of Anwar but dropped to fifth in the second stage, following the breaking mechanical gremlin before setting the fastest time in the third, limping into service for urgent repairs.
With the car back on form, Patel, co-driven by Tauseef Khan, returned to the theatre of operation with renewed vigour, and a turn of speed which was obviously superior compared to the rest of the field.
In what was shaping up into a bi-polar war of speed between the mechanically superior Fiesta of Patel and the less powerful Ford Fiesta of Anwar, skills would determine the outcome of the day.
Patel never relented while Anwar found himself chasing the champion but keeping away from Wahome.
This evaporated in a blink of an eye after Hamza’s Fiesta snapped the shaft belt, sending him into retirement. He rejoins the rally on Sunday chasing a podium finish and valuable points in his Africa Junior and Senior Africa championship title campaign.
“It has not been an easy day,” said Patel. “We lost our rear brakes in the first loop and were forced to depend on the front brakes which tend to overheat."
“The heat takes a toll on the drivers and the car, but thankfully we are here at the end of day one, a very small percentage of the rally remains tomorrow so hopefully everything holds up.”
Wahome is optimistic that the Fiesta will hold after suffering the same mechanical problems it suffered in the national championship Machakos Rally last month where he registered his maiden national event victory.
He said: “The morning loop was quite okay. We were quick and maybe made some one or two mistakes. Afternoon we really started struggling with overheating so just like in Machakos we will have to lift the gas switch off the stage mode. In the last stage we had to stop twice because the car went on safe mode or what we call limp mode, making us lose time.”
Veteran Asad Anwar, the father of Hamza, returning to rallying after a decade said that he was simply enjoying himself. “We had a good day. We had a lot of fun. Everything was in sync in the car, the notes are good.”
Reflecting on Hamza’s misfortune, Anwar said philosophically: “Hamza is a young man and everything that happens to him is a learning curve.”
Physically-challenged Nikil Sachania was all smiles at the end in ninth: “It has been a very hot day and I think it has taken a lot from the drivers, myself included."
McRae Kimathi never had a good day: “After the refueling, the last two stages were quite a struggle to get the car back, trying to focus and concentrate on the notes,” said his navigator Mwangi Kioni.
“Our aim is to bring the car home for tomorrow. I made an error where I lapsed for a moment and took a corner I was not to take, so I reversed the car and went on.
“About three kilometres towards the end of Karany stage, a tree had fallen and blocked the road, it was on a fast section so we tried to brake but couldn’t make it time, leading us to go under the tree, breaking our windscreen and our roof vent. Other than that, it has been a tough day for us. In the first loop we went off into the sisal and got stuck for about an hour. Now we are trying to recover."
1.Karan Patel/Tauseef Khan, Ford Fiesta R2, 1:49.21.3;
2.Jeremiah Wahome/Victor Okundi, Ford Fiesta R3, 1:52:08.3;
3.Yasin Nasser/Ali Katumba (UG), Ford Fiesta R2, 1:54:45.8;
4.Aakif Virani/Azhar Bhutt, Skoda Fabia R5, 1:56:25.4;
5.Jasmeet Chana/Ravinder Chana, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10, 1:5649.5;
6.Jas Mangat/Joseph Kamya (UG), Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10, 1:57:00.5;
7.Izhar Mirza/Kavit Dave, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10,2:02:28.0;
8.Asad Anwar/Shamir Yusuf, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10, 2:03:05.6;
9.Nikil Sachania/Deep Patel, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO10, 2:05:25.3;
10.Kush Patel/Mudasar Chaudry, Subaru Impreza GC8, 2:18:28.6;
11.Nzioka Waita/Tuta Mionki, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10, 2:50:10.2.