Jinja-based Kenyan Rajbir Rai marked his second win of the 2014 Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) with victory in the penultimate round in Kisumu on Sunday.
The 24-year-old, son of legendary Sarbi Rai took the lead in the third section at Songhor, lost it momentarily to a hard-charging Carl Tundo in the fourth section but had his campaign effectively sewn up when the latter suffered multiple punctures.
With just the Guru Nanak rally to spare next month, the KNRC title race has is now down to a two-horse race between Tundo and Baldev Chager.
Chager was lying second after the second stage but had his run cut short with a puncture in the third stage.
Tundo settled for second place despite a frustrating run, while 60-year-old Azar Anwar sealed the podium in his ageing ex-Cavenagh Mitsubishi EVO8.
Chager was fourth but still retains his position at the summit top with 360 points, 40 ahead of second-placed Tundo. Chager, therefore needs to finish in the podium at Guru Nanak to win the championship.
SportPesa-sponsored Leonardo Varese in a Toyota Corolla RSI won the 2WD Class followed by defending champion Dennis Mwenda while Karan Patel in a career best fifth won the group S Class in the absence of season pacesetter Alasdair Keith. Jonathan Somen won the Classic in a career best 10th place.
“I am on cloud nine,” said Rai, savouring his most successful season in the sport. Tundo drove to the finish at Chemase’s Kibos Sugar yard despondent of punctures that cost him maximum points.
“The event was frustrating for us. We picked two punctures along the way and I think we let the car down,” said Tundo.
The course in Chemase was wet and muddy in the early morning run following Thursday’s heavy downpour, but fans were treated to some exhilarating displays of racing artistry.
The course, though proved unforgiving to some. Issa Amwari was the first casualty when he missed the end time control of the Miwani stage with just 100 metres to the finish.
“We lost control of the car. I think it must have been caused by a steering rack or control arm,” said Amwari.
Former British and Finnish rally champion Tapio Laukkanen was the star attraction in the early morning exchanges with first two fastest stages times on Section One and Two prior to his exit on Section Three Chemelil-Songhor.