All eyes on Tapio
KNRC leader fears any mistake will gift second-placed Chatthe the title
SAMSON ATEKA @samson ateka
KCB Eldoret Rally this weekend is all about catching ‘Flying Finn’ Tapio Laukannen.
The former Finland and British champion has set stratospheric standards in his Subaru R4 car, leaving local bigwigs struggling to match him even with their ultra modern top-of-the-range machines.
Four points separate Tapio and Jaspreet Chatthe, who has managed to post some impressive stage times over the past few seasons. Thirdplaced Ian Duncan will also be hoping that either Chatthe or Tapio stumble. Duncan, who has won the KNRC six times has had his campaign distracted by the DNF (Did Not Finish) he suffered in Kisumu as a result of being taken ill incidentally while leading the pack.
Baldev Chager and Carl Tundo although not doing too good in the championship, will equally not be pushovers.
Chager, who was the victor in Kisumu has come to grips with his new car but believes Tapio will be hard to catch. Chager has suffered two DNFs and as such lost the lead he had clung onto after Safari.
Chager said: “Every time anyone tries to catch up with him, he pulls away. I don’t really know where his limits are or how much faster he can go from what he is doing. The good thing is that he has made us wake up. I think generally everybody has started driving faster just to get closer to Tapio more than anything else.”
The Flying Finn, who has wowed crowds in his driving lines, has won three of five events held so far including—season opener Kajiado, Wundanyi and the last round in Nanyuki—ending the domination of Mitsubishi EVO machines that had ruled the KNRC unchallenged in the last three seasons.
Chager, who is also known as the ‘Flying Singh’ believes he has come to grips with the new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution10 R4 car, which is a Subaru GVB13-version of the Group N he has driven for more than two seasons.
The rally will be flagged off outside KCB Eldoret branch on Uganda Road at 7am today by Governors Alex Tolgos and Jackson Mandago after which cars will tackle stages near Eldoret as they head towards Iten.