The 'Fast And Furious' Loading In 2019 KNRC, Onkar Rai Asserts

Feb 03 - by SPN Correspondent for SportPesa News

Season-opening KCB Nakuru Rally winner predicts flying season after edging three-way battle against champion Tundo and teammate Chager

DUSTY RHODES: Onkar Rai's Skoda Fabia R5 in action at the KCB Nakuru Rally on Saturday, February 2, 2019. PHOTO/Courtesy

  • Rai became the first ever driver to complete a hat-trick of wins in Nakuru after he eclipsed Tundo in a last stage showdown at the expansive Gicheha Farm on Saturday
  • Returning Issa Amwari who came home in eighth took Division 2 top honours despite the myriad mechanical hiccups he had to contend with on both loops
  • Out of 19 starters, only nine survived the demanding conditions. Among the casualties were Ian Duncan, Eric Bengi, Paras Pandya and Daren Miranda who was the only 2WD entrant in Nakuru

NAKURU, Kenya- Onkar Rai has predicted a 'fast and furious' Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) after edging a gripping three-way battle against titleholder Carl 'Flash' Tundo and teammate Baldev Chager to clinch the season-opening KCB Nakuru Rally victory.

Rai became the first ever driver to complete a hat-trick of wins in Nakuru after he eclipsed Tundo in a last stage showdown at the expansive Gicheha Farm on Saturday.

“The level of competition witnessed at the weekend is a clear indication of what we can expect from the Premier Class lot  in 2019. If you make a mistake you pay for it. Timings in Nakuru serve-up great moments ahead for KNRC lovers,” the Nakuru winner added.

MUST READ: Verjee Rules Two Wheel Drive At Mai Mahiu Autocross

It was a three horse race with Tundo, Onkar and Chager dictating the pace.  

The national champion came through the 18km penultimate stage at Frank's Landing with a 25 -second advantage but returned third fastest on the repeat run of the technical and twisty last stage at Gicheha (CS8) where Rai beat him by 30 second to win his home event by a mere four seconds.

Chager then romped home to round off the podium with 41 seconds separating the charging top three in a rally where Mahesh Halai posted a career best fifth finish to emerge the Division One winner ahead of Mombasa duo of Sonanjeet Puee and Ammar Haq.

Full potential

Rai (Skoda Fabia R5) and Tundo (Mitsubishi EvoX R4) won four stages apiece in the Rift Valley Motor and Sports Club (RVMSC) organised leg of the KNRC that was eventually settled by the thinnest of margins.

MUST READ: KCB Return In World Rally Championship Test Year

“Hats off to Tundo for his brilliant drive given the fact that the Skoda is a superior car. He gave his all and drove the car to its full potential to match our speeds.

“We made too many mistakes in the first loop where we encountered immense dust and even spun thrice. We then sort of warmed up for the second stage but had already done a lot of damage to our timings.

Onkar Rai (right) and his navigator Gavin Laurence with their Skoda Fabia R5 on the podium after winning the KCB Nakuru Rally on Saturday, February 2, 2019. PHOTO/Courtesy 

"Going into the last section, we were compelled to attack in order to get our time back on but had to do it sensibly to ensure we don’t bash the car,” the winner stated while hailing his rival's part in producing a dramatic finish to the rally.

“We did our best in the opening loop trying to gain as much advantage as possible, but as we all know, Gicheha is Skoda's paradise.

"I din't just have enough firepower in the second loop to stay ahead. We had a few hiccups like overheating and fuel pump issues which also slowed us don in the first loop. But  it’s a huge start to the championship. 

MUST READ: Kenya's Baryan To Battle Norway Ace Ostberg For Africa Rally Title

"To beat the Skodas we now have to drive at 150 percent which will be a gigantic task,” Tundo admitted.

Returning Issa Amwari who came home in eighth took Division 2 top honours despite the myriad mechanical hiccups he had to contend with on both loops.  

Out of 19 starters, only nine survived the demanding conditions. Among the casualties were Ian Duncan, Eric Bengi, Paras Pandya and Daren Miranda who was the only 2WD entrant in Nakuru.

FULL RESULTS

1. Onkar Rai/Gavin Laurence (Skoda Fabia R5) 1h50m10s

2. Carl Tundo/Tim Jessop (EVOX) 1h50m14s

3. Baldev Chager/Ravi Soni (EVOX) 1h50m51s

4. Tejveer Rai/Zaheer Shah (EVOX) 2h02m20s

5. Mahesh Halai/Ketan Halai (Subaru N12) 2h06m38s

6. Sohanjeet Puee/Adnan Din (Subari N10) 2h02m20s

7. Ammar Haq/Victor Okundi (EVOX) 2h07m08s

8. Issa Amwari/Mwngi Waithaka (EVOX) 2h31m36s

9. Karan Patel/James Mwangi (Subaru GC8) 2h25m03s