Raaji Bharij wins first KNRC victory in Nanyuki

Minti Motorsport driver Raaji Singh Bharij has won his first leg of the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) after triumphing in round six of the series at Nanyuki.

The 2009 Pirelli Star Driver runner-up led the rally from start to finish by winning all six speed tests at stake in the sixth stage of the national series.

Bharij on his very first outing with the Skoda Fabia Rally2 clocked a time of 1:45.23.01 hours to beat Karan Patel by a huge margin of 05.12.4 minutes. He also earned 3 extra championship points for winning the Power Stage which was the repeat of the Greystones test.

FIA rally star Hamza Anwar claimed a career-first podium in third place ahead of his homeboy Piers Daykin who surprisingly took the Classic Car class honors with a credible fourth place at the wheel of a Datsun 280Z.

Daykin, who is a former Kenya Sailors Champion with Lee Rose, put all his experience and local knowledge to good use in the Nanyuki Rally Group round with a cumulative total of 1:52.46.2 hours.

Mitsubishi Evolution X’s Jasmeet Chana maintained his 100% record in fifth ahead of reigning Kenyan champion Carl “Flash” Tundo who powered his classic Triumph TR7 machine to sixth.

Splendid road

Bharij put in a stunning performance despite starting first on the road on his very first outing in a Skoda Fabia Rally2 and with new navigator Ravi Soni.

Saturday’s win counted as Bharij’s second career; six years after winning the 2016 Top Fry Rift 1000 Classic Rally at Baringo where he teamed up with Ranjeet Sehmi in a Ford Escort Mk1. And he did better at Nanyuki where he finished second in 2014.

Nanyuki Rally 2022 was Bharij’s third rally of the season after posting a 29th place overall in February’s East African Safari Classic Rally before retiring in the ARC Equator Rally driving a two-man classic Ford Escort Mk1 occasions.

Bharij’s navigator, Ravi, commented: “We had a very cautious approach in the morning and watched the times; we realized we were fine. The second time we got better, not intentionally, but naturally you get faster in the second run of the loop. We took good notes since it was our first time in the car, so as not to take unnecessary risks. We always thought watching the competition that there was a good chance if we had a good run – and the biggest surprise was that we won all the stages”

How Bharij won

Bharij took the lead in the first speed test at Mlima Hema (28.23 km) where he beat Karan by a margin of 18.04 seconds.

In the first run of the event’s longest test at Ole Naishu (40.69km), Bharij then beat Karan by a whopping 1.24.0 minutes to cumulatively lead the proceedings by 1.42.4 minutes. .

But in the corridor after the 7.60km SS3 Greystones test, Bharij returned to duty with a towering cushion of 2.12.6 minutes over Karan who ran fourth fastest on this spectator-only stage where young Hamza Anwar and Peiro Canobbio set the second and third best times.

Karan’s run at Nanyuki was hampered by the fact that he used his old Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 10 to preserve his traditional Ford Fiesta Rally2 (“Toto Moto”) car for FIA African Rally Championship events (BOW).

Kilifi-based Piero Canobbio also showed incredible pace in his new Hyundai Rally2 alongside legendary Italian WRC racer Fabrizia Pons.

Piero was third fastest on SS1, SS2 and SS3 but didn’t start SS4 due to gremlins. Rio Smith also retired after failing to complete the first stage.

NAKURU RALLY PROVISIONAL FINAL RESULTS

1 (#16) Raaji Singh Bharij/Ravi Soni (Skoda Fabia -R5) 1:45.23.1

2 (#3) Karan K Patel/Tauseef Khan (Mitsubishi Evo 10) 1:50.35.5

3 (#12) Hamza Anwar/Adnan Din (Mitsubishi Evo 10) 1:50.56.8

4 (#51) Piers Daykin/Tariq Malik (Datsun 280 Z – Classic) 1:52.46.2

5 (#6) Jasmeet Chana/Ravi Chana (Mitsubishi Evolution 10) 1:52.53.3

6 (#1) Carl “Flash” Tundo /Samuel Taylor (Triumph TR 7 – Classic) 1:55.09.9

7 (#9) Ian Duncan/Jaspal Matharu (Nissan Datsun – Classic) 1:59.07.4

  1. (#18) Issa Amwari/Edward Njoroge (Mitsubishi Evolution 10) 1:59.59.7

9 (#23) Steve Mwangi/Dennis Mwenda (Subaru Impreza) 2:07.33.1

10 (#20) Maxine Wahome / Murage Waigwa (Subaru Impreza) 2:15.14.6

11 (#44) Leo Leonardo Varese / Kigo Kareithi (Toyota Auris -2WD) 2:20.04.5

12 (#29) Daren Miranda/Vinay Varsani (Subaru Impreza -2WD) 2:29.16.8

13.(#32) Edward Maina/Anthony Gichohi (Subaru Impreza -S) 2:36.03.7

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