Karan back to his roots

Fast-ris­ing rally ace set to tackle KCB Kiten­gela Rally af­ter five WRC rounds

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports Local -

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.

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