Karan back to his roots
Fast-rising rally ace set to tackle KCB Kitengela Rally after five WRC rounds
SAMSON ATEKA @samson ateka
KCB Kitengela Rally, the penultimate round of the 2016 Kenya National Rally Championship, has attracted a star-studded entry that includes youngsters Manvir Baryan and Karan Patel who crashed out in WRC Rally in Catalunya, Spain.
Defending KNRC champion Jaspreet ‘Jassi’ Chatthe has signed up for the event and will be hoping to revive his title defence should the ‘Flying Finn’ Tapio Laukkanen stumble in the Kajiado County-based event.
There are also over 10 entries in Group ‘N’ (for homologated cars) including leader Ian Duncan in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 10, Farhaaz Khan in an Evolution 9 and Karan in an Evolution 10. Karan is making a return to the KNRC front at penultimate stage after tackling five rounds of the World Rally Championship. The former 85cc East African motocross champion scored points towards the Drive D-Mack Fiesta Trophy and savoured a taste of asphalt and gravel stages in rallies of Poland, Germany, Catalunya, Spain, Finland and Portugal.
In an interview, Karan said he is happy to return to the local scene, where he has previously enjoyed the top 5 positions. “How awesome would it be if Kenya had some tarmac stages incorporated into our national rallying.
“I’m thinking it would be ideal for us to have tarmac rally stages on select closed public roads which will call for tarmac specification dampers, springs, brake discs, pads, and tyres.
“That’s what you need to change from a gravel specification to tarmac and approximately, it would take one and a half hours to do so,” said Karan.
He said he is itching to rev his Evolution 10 car (‘Phoebe’) this weekend.
“After spinning a Ford in the WRC, I can’t wait to get back into my beautiful beast of a machine (Evo). It was amazing racing in the WRC. We didn’t quite make it to the finish in Spain because I crashed the car in the second last stage of the rally but for the stages we did and completed, we gained invaluable experience. So we didn’t finish on paper but in my mind I have accomplished something great given that I’m new to the car and the rallies and I feel I am walking away knowing that I am a better driver,” said Karan, who is a the 2014 KNRC Division 3 and Group S champion.
In the star-studded list, Duncan is the only driver among the top 7 still running a Group ‘N’ car as most top teams have since upgraded to R4 and R5 machines.
Tapio has swept the ground with all his opponents in his traditional Subaru R4, with youngsters Rajbir Rai and Manvir both gaining considerable pace in their Ford Fiesta R5 super cars.
Kabras Sugar Racing trio of Baldev Chager, Onkar Rai and Tejveer Rai will be running R4 Evolution 10s and so will be Chatthe.
Although focus will be centred more on the high-flying speed merchants, lower categories of KNRC are sure to also offer spectators some hair-raising thrills on Kajiado’s black cotton soil.