Gilgil, Saturday, March 17 2018–Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo continued showing flashes of sustained and brilliant driving acumen in his home ground by extending his lead by 13 seconds in Soysambu 1, 18.75km over hard charging Kenya National Championship leader Onkar Rai and Gareth Dawe in a Skoda Fabia on the opening stage of the 2018 ARC Safari Rally this morning.
Despite this flawless drive, Tundo was very cool, relaxed and raring to perform even better in the second loop on a damp route with wet patches in the morning following an overnight drizzle. “I am taking it easy and plans to attack in the second loop,” said Tundo who averaged 96.5kph, sometimes logging over 200kph in straights with Tim Jessop guiding him.
‘I am hoping it will get dry as the day progresses.”
That the Safari is contested by evenly matched talents was not in doubt with the first six cars running in the same minute. But in a sprint dash, as it is turning out, anything as slight as a puncture could alter the results, began to show.
Tundo is driving a time-tested but ageing Mitsubishi EVO X but his skills started shining since day one when he outsprinted Africa Champion Manvir Baryan and Briton Drew Sturrock by 1.9 seconds in the 31.69km Kedong 1 who were driving a Skoda Fabia, a second tier racing machine after a WRC Car was equally impressive averaging 94.8kph.
In Soysambu, Rai, third on day one appeared to have clicked in the savannah where speeds were suicidal even rattling resident wild game which provided the perfect backdrop that proclaimed this is Africa, the perfect images the WRC Promoter is looking for to spice the WRC in the near future through the Safari.
“It was extremely slippery in the morning, making me cautious but later as it is drying up, I expect to drive faster in the second loop,” said Rai, winner of the season opening rally in Nakuru.
Former Africa Champion Jaspreet Chatthe who is yet to get his groove following a troublesome gear box was optimistic of turning the tables. “The gear box teething problem has been resolved and I am now in a position to attack, said Chatthe, navigated by Briton James Morgan in a Mitsubishi EVO X in 6th position and 47 seconds behind Tundo.
Ugandan Jas Mangat and Joseph Kamya were in fourth position in a Mitsubishi EVO X 38 seconds behind. They were followed by former Safari champion Baldev Chager, co-driven by Ravi Soni in a Mitsubishi Evo X.
Fans troupe in early for a day long festivities which pleased their eyes and fired their imagination of what to expect in a future World Rally Championship Safari contested by the best talent in awesome Ksh80 million plus mean racing machines. The air was ecstatic, the perfect family outing of as many as 5000 spectators managed to drive through the spectator stage.
However, villagers jammed the service park, marvelling at the cars and men at work from a distance.