Sport

Equator Rally sets stage for the Safari

Equator Rally sets stage for the Safari

WRC Safari Rally CEO Phineas Kimanthi addresses the press at KWS WRC Serivice Park on April 22, 2021 ahead of Africa Rally Championships to be held over the weekend.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

The organising team, headed by WRC Safari Rally, Phineas Kimathi, is now waiting eagerly to see how the Equator Rally runs on the stages prepared for the Kenyan round of the 2021 World Rally Championship to be staged in June.

Kimathi sounded optimistic on preparations for the Safari Rally now that the Equator Rally is set to visit some of the set up starting on Saturday.

“The Equator Rally is very important to all of us, whether drivers or the organising committee, as it gives us the opportunity to test our preparedness to welcome the world in the Safari Rally which is returning in the FIA World Championship after a 19-years absence.

“We have organised the Equator Rally with invaluable contribution of the FIA, the continental governing body and the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage  to ensure we deliver a world class event,’’ Kimathi told Nation Sport.

He added: “I am also humbled by the response from foreign drivers and stakeholders who have given the rally a truly international image, and in particular the UK-based Minti Sport for providing our two top local drivers, Carl Tundo and Ian Duncan, with top machines for the Equator and further events.”

The current Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) series leader Baldev Chager will be at the forefront despite using his old Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10 for the Equator Rally.

The former Safari Rally winner is, however, wary of his Kabras Sugar Racing compatriots, Tejveer and Onkar Rai, who he believes will give him a run for his money in the African Rally Championship event.

But now he understands he has his work cut out ahead of this weekend contest that will also count for points towards the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC).

Both the Rai siblings will be driving VW Polo R5 cars.

Tejvir is fresh from finishing ahead of Onkar in the last Nakuru Rally.

Kenya National Rally Championship Premier Class driver Karan Patel has vowed to go flat out at this weekend’s Equator Rally.

“We are looking forward to participating in the ARC event in Naivasha. I am going to attack from the word go.

“With Chager Onkar and Tundo in the line-up, there is no room to hang around and wait for someone to slip up and then try to catch up,” said Karan, who will team up with Tauseef Khan in a Ford Fiesta R5.

“Although it’s a two-day event, there is a bit of time to play catch up if things go sour."

“But for me, the idea is to push from the word go and get some stage wins if not the overall victory.”

Karan reckons that the influx of R5 machines “is a very good sign for Africa as a whole.”
The Equator Rally, and FIA ARC event, will feature a total of seven R5 supercars with Rai siblings Onkar and Tejveer in their traditional VW Polo R5s.

Doors numbers on the doors of the cars of individuals are based as per the final standings in the overall championship of the previous season.

Anyone, who did not feature in the previous championship and intends to tackle a current event is awarded a number from 100 or 200 upwards respectively.

This applies to the foreign drivers also.

Each of the top eight finishers from the previous overall championship of the Kenya National Rally Championship (in this case from end of 2018) has to start first on road in one of the eight rounds of the series for fair play.

The rotation system is to make sure that not the same driver “opens” the stages in all rallies.

Not all drivers, however “courageous” or “fast”, would like to start off first on road as that would mean “clearing” the route for the following cars.