What you need to know:
- Patel, popularly known as “Toto Moto” by rally fans, won the qualifying round on Saturday but resisted the temptations of challenging Ugandan Jas Mangat who won comfortably with a four minutes 41.4 seconds lead after posting one hour, 51 minutes and 27. 6 seconds in a Hyundai i20 R5.
- The Kenyan former national champion settled for second position and the all-important continental glory.
A combination of gritty determination and eyes on an elusive crown he so much thirsted for has handsomely paid off for Karan Patel who is now the new Africa Rally Champion.
Patel won the 2023 Africa Rally Championship (ARC) title in Iringa, Tanzania, Sunday navigated by Tauseef Khan in the KCB Bank-sponsored Ford Fiesta Rally 2 machine.
Patel, popularly known as “Toto Moto” by rally fans, won the qualifying round on Saturday, but resisted the temptations of challenging Ugandan Jas Mangat who won comfortably with a four minutes 41.4 seconds lead after posting one hour, 51 minutes and 27. 6 seconds in a Hyundai i20 R5.
The Kenyan former national champion settled for second position and the all-important continental glory.
Self-sponsored compatriot Hamza Anwar, driving a Group ‘N’ Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10, retained his Africa Junior Rally Championship title in third position and also finished second in ARC 2 co-driven by Adnan Din. He posted 1:59: 34.6.
His achievement this year is yet another confirmation that the FIA Rally Star Programme - initiated three years ago by the WRC Safari Rally Project - is the right talent development platform for rally sport.
Anwar has been involved in a whirlwind of activities since the beginning of the year by competing in the Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) series in Sweden, Croatia, Estonia, Portugal and Greece alongside the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) and ARC.
Karan was all smiles as he received his victor’s trophy reflecting on his career path as he adds another feather on his hat of successes.
This is yet another accomplishment in a maturing career after being the 2022 Kenya National Rally Champion, the 2005 East Africa Motocross Champion and the 2022 Motorsports Personality of the Year.
This has not gone unnoticed after Austrian energy drink company, Redbull, signed him as a Redbull Athlete this year in a deal which could eventually lead him to the premier league of rallying globally.
“It’s a really emotional moment for us and the entire team. We’ve worked hard for this for a while and we’re super proud to bring the title back to Kenya.” Patel told Nation Sport.
“We had to be strategic in our approach for this event. We’ve had a strong winning streak at ARC events and I don’t normally enjoy the thought of not winning one, but this event podium for the (ARC) championship was more important and we will savour it for years to come.”
Patel, a former motocross racer, now the top rallying practitioner on the African pro circuit, went to Tanzania to chase the continental title with a roll at the Super Special Stage in Zambia recently still fresh in his mind.
He was raring to go and won the qualifying stage on Saturday in Iringa.
But wisdom prevailed as he decided to pace himself perfectly leaving Mangat to do all the racing as he chased and achieved his maiden continental title in a Ford Fiesta Rally 2.
Patel, 32 has had a very busy season dividing rallying and work. He is a Licensed Aircraft Engineer and a Certified Level 2 NDT Aerospace Inspector, with an impressive academic background attained in the UK.
But his love for motorsport remains palpable. He went to Tanzania with a slim lead and threw caution to the wind expressing his intentions strongly and in commanding style by winning the qualifying stage 5.7 seconds ahead of fast-chasing rival Mangat through the fast and dusty stages of ASAS Farm in Iringa.
The ARC title was a two-horse race between Patel and Mangat with each passing stage in Tanzania as he settled down and came to terms with the Hyundai.
The dry weather conditions were favorable for fast times, but with each of the two stages on the opening day being run thrice, drivers gradually became more focused to avoid hidden ruts.
MOIL Rally Team’s Yassin Nasser finished fifth after his car caught fire on Saturday but was able to fix it for yesterday’s finale.
Patel and Tauseef showed no signs that they were rusty despite being back in the seats of their Ford Fiesta R5 for the first time since Rally Zambia, as it was shipped straight after to Dar-Es-Salaam awaiting the Iringa event.
“Mentally I didn’t feel any pressure going into this race. 90 percent of me wanted to play it safe but 10 percent of me wanted to push for the win and give the fans a good show.
DNation bodytext: He had his campaign all well planned.
“We would like to make the team that works hard for us all year round proud, but we will weigh our options and see how much risk we can take to maintain the event lead without jeopardising our championship chances,” Patel said ahead of the opening day’s action.
What motivates Karan? His hunger to win and be the best, and to make his family proud.
And when it comes to standing out in the field, his dedication to staying on top of his game and posting great results is what sets him apart.
Final Results Africa Rally Championship Tanzania Rally:
1: Jas Mangat/Jules Escartefigue, Uganda/France (Hyundai i20 R5) 1:51.27.6;
2: Karan Patel/Tauseef Khan, Kenya (Ford Fiesta R5). 1:56.09.0;
3: Hamza Anwar/Adnan Din, Kenya (Mitsubishi EVO 10), 1:57.36.3;
4. Gurpal Sandhu/Dave Sihoka, Tanzania (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10 E), 1:59.34.6;
7. Yasin Nasser/ Joseph Kamya, Uganda, (Ford Fiesta R5)2:30.20.3
ARC 2 Championship:
1: Hamza Anwar/ Adnana Din (Mitsubishi EVO 10), 1:57.36.3;
2: Gurpal Sandhu/Dave Sihoka (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10 E), 1:59.34.6.
Africa Junior Championship:
1: Hamza Anwar/ Adnana Din (Mitsubishi EVO 10), 1:57.36.3;
Provisional final Africa Rally Championship Standings:
1: Karan Patel (Kenya), 144 points
2: Jas Mangat (Uganda), 141 pts
3: Yasin Nasser (Uganda), 114 pts
4: Hamza Anwar (Kenya), 63 pts
5: Innocent Bwamiki (Uganda), 55 points
6: Prince Charles Nyerere (Tanzania), 55 points
7: Rio Smith (Kenya), 24pts
8: Asad Anwar (Kenya), 19pts
9: Gurpal Sandhu (Tanzania), 19pts
10: Nickel Sachania (Kenya), 17pts
11: McRae Kimathi (Kenya) 15 points