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Spectacular Equator Rally TV coverage in Naivasha runs on ‘Facebook’

TOP: Nelson Jeremy Ogolla makes www.voiceofsport.co.ke ‘Picture of the Day’ from the Equator Rally in Naivasha: A dramatic river crossing by Aakif Virani, Car No. 23, a Skoda Fabia. Above: Hussein Malik and Linet Ayuko, Car No. 26 survived a roll and crash immediately after the start at Elmentaita. Pictures/Courtesy

From GISHINGA NJOROGE

in Naivasha, Nakuru County, Saturday

NAIVASHA is witnessing a sporting spectacle. From Saturday, the Equator Rally is on in earnest. It is thrilling. The conditions are absolutely amazing. Rain, dust, picturesque terrain and wildlife; and in just a few kilometres from the start, spins and spills. Hussein Malik and Linet Ayuko (Car No. 26 Mitsubishi Evo 10) wentjust a few metres before they spectacularly crushed out; thankfully, shaken bodies, lives not threatened.

Ian Duncan in his ‘ancient’ Group ‘B’ Nissan RS was ‘sailing’ well in Soysambu but later at service, his ‘car packed it in’. Picture/Courtesy

Ian Duncan explains what happened. /Courtesy SEAN CARDOVILLIS

Rajiv Ruparelia, Car No. 200, blasted out, pictures of the brutalized front of his Volkswagen Polo and efforts to tow the car out of the wild were “trending”. The intriguing monster Nissan 240RS of past multi-time Kenya National Rally Champion Ian Duncan took him to the end of the first day, then at service, it just gave up and “died”.

Said Duncan: “The Nissan got OTL (Over Time Limit). Came into service Ok, general maintenance, then just won’t start. But what a ride whilst it lasted. Fifth fastest in the ‘Sleeping Warrior’ (stage) and 6th overall in loop one. Hopefully we can get to do ‘super rally’ tomorrow.”

Rules allow Duncan to re-enter the race tomorrow but the set-back may have put paid to any chances he had for a decent top (podium) placing.

Amaanraj Rai, Ford Fiesta Car No. 201, suffered two tyre bursts just after completing the day’s action. One of  Kenya’s prospects, Karan Patel, Ford Fiesta, Car No. also retired – mechanical problems. Disappointed, he told official WRC Safari Rally project interviewer, Sean Cardovillis: “A learning curve for our team. Some mechanical aspects we did not pay the needed serious attention to. Sometimes in this business, (retirements) it can be the driver, but this time, it clearly was others who did not do their work right.”

More crushing news: Kenya champion Baldev “Bold” Chager, OUT after throwing his Mitsubishi Evolution 10 into a border (stone) on SS5. So much was the damage that he probably will not be as lucky as Duncan – to repair and get back in tomorrow.

The “casualties”:

But, like Duncan, all except Malik will re-start on Sunday and contest the Rally 2 category formerly known as Super Rally.

By the end of the end of the day the list of retirements, fondly referred by rallying buffs as “casualties was a staggering 14. This whets the appetite of the fans that during the Safari Rally in June,  on the same tracks, including a doubling of the sections in the Equator  Rally, will be TOUGH. They await to see how the best drivers in the world expected in Kenya, then, will fair.

Eventual day’s leader Carl Tundo, above and below, through in a flash and then gallops, the first time in a Volkswagen Polo. Pictures/MOHAMMED AMIN, WRC Safari Rally Media Dept

Carl “Flash” Tundo was day’s leader. Driving a VW Polo R5 and navigated by Tim Jessop, Tundo won all the six stages to close the day on a cumulative total of 1:39:14.4 hours, earning him a commendable 7:15.1 minutes lead over over Tejveer Rai and the interesting South African entry of Guy Botterill. Kenya’s Hamza Anwar was fourth before Rwanda and Uganda drivers Giancarlo Davite and Kepher Walubi.

No spectators were allowed in the rally amid the COVID-19 restrictions in the country but hundreds of fans “begged” organisers to let them into Soysambu wildlife Conservancy, promising they could “behave and social-distance” themselves, arguing that nowhere would anyone get a similar “free open”.

South Africans Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle, Toyota Etios, Car No. 210, had good welcome to Kenyan terrain and took third place in the leader board on Day One. Picture/MOHAMMED AMIN, WRC Safari Rally Media Dept

The wiser ones – resigned to fact that the FIA (International Automobile Federation), Kenya Government and Organisers’ regulations would not be bent – looked elsewhere to follow their sport. It is being “beamed live” on ‘Facebook’. And today’s coverage was epic.

Giancarlo Davite and  Sylvia Vindevogel of Rwanda in their  Mitsubishi Evolution 10. Picture/MOHAMMED AMIN, WRC Safari Rally Media Dept

The WRC Safari Rally Kenya Department has put together a lively bunch of young digital ‘techs’ whose television work on Day One was absolutely professional. They definitely will be better tomorrow. The pictures that came out of Elmentaita, Soysambu and Soysambu were “dreamy”, completey best “Out of Africa” stuff; “Nat Geo [National Geographic] will be envious.

Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, also dropped in by helicopter into Soysambu, casually and happily mingling watching a good deal of the racing.

President Uhuru Kenyatta came to Naivasha to watch/Courtesy

At this point it was a beautiful whistling in the wind for Piero Canobbio around the beautiful Lake Elmentaita. But the toughnes of the route that the WRC Safari Rally will take in June brought the flashy Mitsubishi Evo 10 to a halt; among 13 other drivers. Picture/Courtesy 

The “still” photographers were having a field day and competition among them was furious;who would have the most spectacular shots. The rally, a 2021 round of the FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) has entries from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

This Equator Rally this year is being organized by the Kenya Motorsport Federation in conjunction with the WRC Safari Rally Kenya operation that is preparing for the WRC Safari, also in the areas around Naivasha between June 24 and 27.

  • Gishinga Njoroge, Project Coordinator for WRC Safari Rally Kenya, is also a Deputy Media Officer

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