Thirty two drivers will start Saturday’s KCB Kisumu Rally following the withdrawal of three—Manvir Baryan, Nikhil Sachania and Ugandan Leila Blick Irene.
MRT Racing’s Baryan—who recently won the ARC class in a credible third overall podium finish at last month’s KCB Safari Rally—has withdrawn with small foot injury and so has Blick Irene who is held up in Uganda with job commitments.
“I had to pull out at the last minute as I was not able to wear shoes for 3-4 days,” said Manvir, whose carroty Subaru N16 will now be driven by former British and Belgian rally champion Tapio Laukkanen.
Laukkanen is no stranger on Kenyan soil being Manvir’s mentor at MRT team and having ruffled features in a previous round.
Laukkanen, who participated in the 2012 Guru Nanak Rally in a Subaru N16, is expected to give Kenya’s big boys a run for their money having already cleared the ground with all and sundry prior to his exit in the 2012 Guru Nanak. Disabled driver Nikhil Sachania also pulled out of the event with engine problems.
“We are in Kisumu! But the bad news is that we aren’t starting the event tomorrow (today) due to engine problems…so the spectator mode is on for us tomorrow (today),” said Nikhil who drives a hand controlled SPV Mitsubishi Challenger.
In the seeding done Friday, Carl Tundo in a Proton Neo Satria S2000 starts off first on the arch followed by homeboy Jaspreet “Jassi” Chatthe in an EVOX.
Tapio starts off fourth on the road. The event which makes up the seventh and penultimate round of the KCB Kenya National Rally Championship 2014 has so far been to Malindi, Machakos, Eldama Ravine, Nanyuki and Kaimbu.
The event will be opened by legendary Kisumu driver Bimal Shah of Swan Carriers while Nairobi-based Raju Chagger will drive the Zero Car.
Reconnaissance, documentation and pre-event scrutineering culminated Friday at Kisumu Simba Club setting the platform to what’s anticipated to be a real battle of man and machine.
Nevertheless, heavy rains which pounded the region on Thursday meant that crews will now have to change tact, the choice of tyres being crucial for success.
During the recce, one of the cars got stuck on Sectione One prompting organisers Equator Motor Club to consider making the route more friendlier to the turbo-charged and normally aspirated cars that will start the event at the KCB branch in Kisumu.
Clerk of the course Surinder Thatthi said they have no plans to cancel any of the stages adding that the Club was considering appropriate alternatives if rains persist.
“The rest of the route course is compact and passable apart from the spectator stage where again we believe cars may be pushed out if they get stuck,” said Thatthi.