What you need to know:
- Kenyan drivers have emerged as the pride of Africa. Tundo won the ARC title, and will compete in one WRC event of his choice next year.
- Kenyans performed remarkably well in last June’s WRC Safari Rally, with three of them finishing in the top 10 positions in the overall standings.
- This was a major improvement from the 2002 Safari in which no Kenyan finished the race.
The 2021 Kenya National Rally Championship’s (KNRC) penultimate round in Thika last weekend was tough, exciting, and the ultimate battle between man and machine.
It rekindled the old-type rallying, and also set the stage for a more exciting season next year when Kenyans will have a glimpse of the first Hybrid World Rally Car1 in the World Rally Championship Safari Rally.
The Thika Rally that was organised by Rallye Sports Club had a mix of all the ingredients which make rallying tick — slick organisation, sponsorship, tough route, safety and spectators who turned up in large numbers in the post Covid-19 unrestricted environment in sports.
The rally was not a walk in the park as the organisers led by Helen Shiri had to create some road sections which were graded from scratch.
Mother nature was kind to spectators in Kiambu County, who enjoyed rally action, but there were isolated cases of crowd control.
It was a tough test for competitors who battled through the punishing route. The majority of them retired; and out of 16 entrants, only seven finished the rally.
Shiri deserves credit. The hardworking lady, named by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) as the 2018 Events Secretary of the year, once again delivered with piston-line efficiency. Such accolades are rare in sports.
Carl “Flash” Tundo and his navigator Tim Jessop won the Thika Rally in a VW Polo followed by Baldev Chager in a similar model.
Resilient Jasmeet Chana was third while young McRae Kimathi, who continues to impress, finished fourth.
Last month, Kimathi was third in the Africa Rally Championship Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally.
Kimathi, together with teammate Hamza Anwar and Jeremy Wahome, were nominated to the FIA Young Star Programme to compete in the KNRC and in select continental events.
The lads have been a revelation; easily joining the top 10 category class nationally.
Anwar has been dogged by mechanical problems though. Wahome, who threatened the top guys in the beginning, had an accident which caused his car massive damage while Kimathi, too, has had his fair share of mechanical gremlins.
He is nipping at the heels of the big boys, and it will only be a matter of time before he starts challenging for the KNRC title.
Maxine Wahome, like Shiri, is another shining star. Days after conquering the East African Mini Classic Safari, she was fifth in the Thika Rally.
In motorsport, men and women compete on the same level, notwithstanding the inherent dangers and challenges.
These young drivers, who started from scratch with old out-dated cars and shoe-string budgets, are making waves.
Kenyan drivers have emerged as the pride of Africa. Tundo won the ARC title, and will compete in one WRC event of his choice next year.
Kenyans performed remarkably well in last June’s WRC Safari Rally, with three of them finishing in the top 10 positions in the overall standings.
This was a major improvement from the 2002 Safari in which no Kenyan finished the race.
Kenyan technical officials are being trained on the new hybrid technology courtesy of the WRC Safari Rally Steering Committee headed by Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and actualised by the Local Organising Committee team led by Safari Rally CEO Phineas Kimathi and Event Director Jim Kahumbura who are operating from Kasarani Stadium.