With the KNRC defending champion Alastair Cavenagh still terrified by his failure to break the jinx and add the Safari Rally to his growing collection, veteran Ian Duncan looks set to explore the chink in his opponents’ armour by proving the consistency of his Mitsubshi Evo9 as he has now claimed podium finishes in all the four races this season.
Most outstanding driver
Duncan, who is navigated by Amaar Slatch, is sponsored by the National Oil Corporation and although he only has one victory in Athi River this year, he is the most outstanding driver in the campaign with a third place finish in Voi and a second in Eldoret.
His third place finish in the Safari Rally saw his point tally jump to 265 as the leader of the championship.
Dalbit Petroleum-sponsored Tundo will savour his triumphant drive, which has now opened up the battle for the championship.
The wheat farmer, who has amassed 240 points, now closes in on Duncan while Ugandan Jas Mangat, who has committed himself to compete in the Kenyan series is third with 195 points, edging out veteran Azar Anwar of the OiLibya crew to fourth with 120.
Both Cavenagh and Anwar encountered problems in the KCB Safari Rally and retired mid-race. They were among the 33 hopefuls who failed the test.
Fourteen cars in the main category failed to finish the race with another 12 in the supplementary and seven in the two wheel drive stalling.
A total of 84 competitors put in their entries, seven failed the scrutineering test and only 44 were lucky enough to get thumbs up sign on car reliability and return to the finishing ramp at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.
Clerk of the course, Dally Kalsi, who got a resounding endorsement for a well organised event, despite a few gremlins, especially in media operations and access to stages, said experience and patience were the key for those who were strong to finish the 730 kilometres.
Of these, 306 kilometres made up the competitive stages on closed roads while an additional 423 kilometres served as transport distance on open roads.
Most successful race
“The average speed on smooth section was about 130 kilometres per hour. But this was easy for most drivers.
“The challenge was in the rough sections like Paranae (40km) and Mashuru (29km). These two sections claimed almost all those who failed to finish and many who passed struggled,” said Kalsi.
Even the International Automobile Federation (FIA) officials said the spark of the Safari Rally was re-ignited and this year’s was the most successful race in the recent history with security having been improved.
“I have to say this (year’s Safari Rally) was better and even passed our expectations. The rally was event-free and we are happy for Kenya,” said Francois Pretorius, the FIA observer.