Naivasha, Sunday 18, 2018– Carl “Flash” Tundo won the 2018 ARC Safari Rally which produced surprises after a last minute “sting in the tail” left Onkar Rai’s co-driver Gareth Dawe seriously injured and had to be airlifted to Nairobi Hospital for treatment.
Tundo was 9 minutes 28.4 seconds ahead of former Safari Rally champion Baldev Chager with Ugandan Jas Mangat finishing third 10:21.4 minutes. Tanzanians Randeep Singh and Gurvinder Singh were fourth with Eric Bengi, navigated by Tuta Mionki, notching a career best fifth. Apart from Benji the rest were driving Mitsubishi EVO Xs.
In the morning rally purists wondered if Rai could cancel a 22 seconds deficit in the 31.69km long Kedong II or Tundo would cave in from pressure. Overnight rains left the course slippery with water splashes and hidden ruts. Tundo cleared the section in spectacular style, taking his lines with cautions unaware that mayhem reined behind.
Rai was flying and took a brow at high speed 8km from the finish, literally flying for over 30 metres before the car nose-dived and hit a bank. The first medical responder was alerted by headquarters through live tracking and within minutes the helicopter of Captain Kieran Allen landed with doctors who administered first aid and put Dawe on life support. One hour later Dawe was admitted at Nairobi hospital.
Officials reported that he was out of danger and responding well to treatment. The rally stopped for one hour before action resumed with a mud hole in a medium right corner at the spectator stage started expanding and becoming muddy following heavy traction from the front runners.
The next causality was Duncan Mubiru of Uganda who slide wide into the spectators with the car failing to get firm ground. It flipped over and landed on its left side. Fans, mostly Ugandans quickly got him back on the ground and he was able to proceed and finished 7th overall out of 23 finishers.
Ugandans Jas Mangat and Joseph Kimya, fourth in the morning, found themselves in second in a Mitsubishi EVO X followed by Tanzanians Randeep Singh and Gurvinder Singh in a Mitsubishi EVO X.
Chager and Ravi Soni finished fourth.
The greatest story of the day was the performance of Eric Benji and Tuta Mionki in a 12-year old Subaru Impreza N12 who became the first All Africa crew to match Jonathan Toroitich and the late Ibrahim Choge fifth position in the Safari. Toroitich achieved this feat 21 years ago though then the Safari was a World Championship event.
Tuta, an HR Consultant from Catholic University also became the first black woman to achieve such a high placing in the Safari. Only Patrick Njiru, Toroitich and Phineas Kimathi have ever achieved such a high placing in rallying. Kimathi fourth in 2010 Meru Rally remains the last African in the Big boys league.
Benji is a lawyer from Monday to Friday and a rally driver over the weekend. Their performance was consistent and in victory realized that they have joined the Big Boys league. “ I wish to thank our sponsor Menengai Cream Sopa and Tuta,” said Benji.
“She sang for me so beautifully that my legs danced to her music. This performance is really pleasing. But now I have to upgrade the car and feel being part of the top order,” he said.
2018 Safari Rally Results:
1. Car No. 3 – Carl Tundo/Tim Jessop – KEN (Mitsubishi Evolution 10) 01:55:05.8
2. Car No. 5 – Baldev Chager/Ravi Soin – KEN (Mitsubishi Evo 10) 00:09:28.4
3. Car No. 200 – Jas Mangat/Joseph Kamya – UGA (Mitsubishi Evo 10) 00:10:21.5
4. Car No. 204 – Randeep Singh/Gurvinder Singh – TZ (Mitsubishi Evo 10) 00:11:13.8
5. Car No. 14 – Eric Bengi/Tuta Mionki – KEN (Subaru Impreza N12) 00:12:19.7
6. Car No. 10 – Farhaaz Khan/Khashif Shaikh – KEN (Mitsubishi Evo 10) 00:14:42.8
7. Car No. 203 – Duncan Mubiru/Musa Nsubuga – UGA (Subaru Impreza) 00:04:50.2
8. Car No. 17 – Mahesh Halai/Ketan Halai – KEN (Subaru Impreza) 00:25:13.6
9. Car No. 19 – Aakif Virani/Azhar Bhatti – KEN (Subaru Impreza) 00:26:50.5
10. Car No. 29 – Ammar Haq/Victor Okundi – KEN (Mitsubishi Evo 10) 00:27:11.8
11. Car No. 47 – Nikhil Sachania/Alfir Khan – KEN (Mitsubishi Evo 10) 00:27:11.8
12. Car No. 41 – Sohanjeet Puee/Adnan Din – KEN (Subaru Impreza) 00:38:28.7
13. Car No. 18 – Minesh Rathod/Shameer – KEN (Mitsubishi Evo 10) 00:46:41.5
14. Car No. 14 – Richard Ainsworth/Roger Cmiowood – KEN (Ford Escort) 00:47:32.8
15. Car No. 15 – Edward Maina/John Ngugi – KEN (Subaru Impreza) 00:49:07.8
16. Car No. 42 – Geoff Mayes/Mactavish Jamie – KEN (land Rover) 00:49:52.4
17. Car No. 59 – Izhar Mirza/Kavit Dave – KEN (Mitsubishi Evo 10) 00:50:16.3
18. Car No. 201 – Matt Shinnors/Catherine Shinnors – IRE (Ford Escort MK2) 00:50:42.9
19. Car No. 53 – Imran Khan/Thabit Khadwalla – KEN (Subaru Impreza) 00:50:49.0
20. Car No. 20 – Pierro Cannobio/Sylvia Frigo KEN (Mitsubishi Evo 10) 00:58:24.6
21. Car No. 21 – Daren Miranda/Wayne Fernandes – KEN (Subaru Impreza) 00:59:45.1
22. Car No. 22 – Moez Malik/Steve Njenga – KEN (Mitsubishi Evo 10) 01:10:18.4
23. Car No. 54 – Sarit Shah/Haria Shah – KEN (Toyota Corolla RSI) 01:22:12.2