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Kenya remains off World Rally Championship radar

10 July 2013, 16:17 John Kwoba

Nairobi -  Kenya's Safari rally proved yet again it stands out as one of the toughest rallies with over 10 drivers failing to complete.

However, that alone will not warrant its return to the World Rally Championships, a decade after it was ejected over security and lack of funds.

But that has not dashed hopes of local drivers as they seek to improve its competitive edge and safety precautions as the premier event in the continent.

"I was keen to win the rally. It is one of the toughest, run on gravel, just like the World Rally Championships. But Africa is not involved in the 13-tier event and Safari rally will easily make that cut should the Federation of International Automobile (FIA) consider it," said Surinder Thatthi, a local FIA official.

The WRC series currently consists of 13 three-day events driven on surfaces ranging from gravel and tarmac to snow and ice.

Baldev Singh Chager and his partner Ravi Soni won this year's Safari Rally title with a massive 10.06 minutes margin over 2006 winner Azar Anwar.

But the real battle was over the Africa Rally Championships points in which the Safari rally is among the eight events drivers in the continent compete in.

The African Rally Championship drivers bore the full brunt of Safari rockery with only two finishers in Essa Mohammed (seventh) and Jas Mangat, who came in number 26.

Casualties in the ARC category were Giancarlo Davite of Rwanda, Jassy Singh of Zambia and Kenyas Jassi Chatthe all crashing out in the long 84km section which ran from Il-Bisel all the way to Parane.

This meant that Jas Mangat and Gihan De Silva from Uganda were crowned the new FIA African Rally Champions (ARC) 2013 leaders with their second place ARC finish in Kenya.

They had won Puma Energy Rally of Tanzania last month and will return to Kampala for the Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally in August. The Safari rally was fifth in the series.

With three more in Rwanda, Madagascar and Uganda remaining, Mangat who is racing on a Kenyan competition licence has 58 points followed by African champion Mohamed Essa of Zambia on 50 while youngster Jassy Singh has 48.

Mangat took over the lead from Jassy, who is son of ARC 2004 and 2005 champion Muna Singh. Muna was incidentally the FIA Steward at the Safari this time round.

Africa Rally Championships standings

1. Jas MANGAT (Uganda) 58

2. Mohamed ESSA (Zimbabwe) 50

3. Jassy SINGH (Zimbabwe) 48

4. Giancarlo DAVITE (Rwanda) 33

5. Eric PAGES (Ivory Coast) 25

6. Jan HABIG (South Africa) 25


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