Defending champion Jaspreet Chatthe won a thrilling KCB Safari rally with a feisty drive at a dusty lake Elementaita terrain.
Chatthe won the race ahead of Rajbir Rai and Tapio Laukkanen and Ian Duncan who took the second, third and fourth positions respectively.
Despite winning the race Chatthe is second on the Kenya National Rally championship standings with 57.5 points behind winner Rajbir Rai who is leading with 60.5 points.
Tapio Laukkanen is third on 56 points. Ramesh Vishram won the Classic category as Asad Khan emerged victorious in the SPV class ahead of Adil Mirza and Geoff Mayes who were second and third respectively.
Alex Lairangi won the two wheel drive class ahead of second placed Leonardo Varese as Ian Duncan, Carl Tundo and Farhaaz Khan lined up in the group N class in that order.
Chatthe and his navigator Gugu Panesar extended the overnight lead on Saturday at the last stages in Elementaita.
‘It’s a great moment for us, I won the safari rally last year and we are back with a resounding victory”, said Chatthe. His Navigator said it was a tough terrain but the pace notes came in handy to guarantee them another victory.
Rajbir Rai finished 10 seconds later, while Finland’s ace Tapio Laukannen overtook Ian Duncan by one minute to take the third position.
“Yesterday was quite challenging for us and today we had to fight for second best position”, said Rai.
Pasi Torma lauded his driver Tapio Laukannen after a tough weekend outing that saw them end day two with two punctures. Their 3rd position finish lent an extra frisson to the Finland’s exuberant mood.
“Racing in Kenya is very tough. On Saturday we had looked forward to a better performance, but some stages cost us greatly when we had to change tyres”, said Tapio. The Finland’s ace was fastest through CS 9 Delamere East 38.38 km
Flash Tundo who was looking forward to equaling Shehktar record, finished 5th during the outing. “It was a great outing for us, but we had several mechanical problems, but we are glad to have finished the rally. To all my rally fans another round is at the corner”, he added.
Baldev Chager who retired Saturday after his car hit a stone spoiling the radiator, says he will be aiming to shine in the next outing.
“It’s rallying and at times there isn’t much one can do with such mechanical problems. I had envisaged to win after the Jamhuri stage and we kept on pushing even after the radiator had issues but too bad, it wasn’t our time”, said Baldev Chager
The 64th edition of the KCB Safari rally lived to its billing as the ‘world’s toughest rally, seeing a number of drivers retire with misfiring engines, punctures and mechanical failures.