Voice of Sport

Laukkanen wins second of season in Eldoret as low entry blamed on ‘poor management of the sport’

This was the ‘Flying Finn’s’ second win of the season after retiring from the series’ opening Mombasa Cement Rally, then clinching his maiden African Rally Championship [ARC] Safari Rally in Naivasha and Nakuru

Focused on top prize: Tapio Laukkanen of Finland said: ‘Things worked out right for us right from the official reconnaissance of the route to the actual competition. The car also behaved well on stages, which were twisty and fast’

TAPIO Laukkanen of Finland won the Raiply Eldoret Rally on Saturday, his second consecutive overall victory in the 2017 Kenya National Rally Championship.

The Finn, who is the defending KNRC champion, set fastest stage times in all but one of the seven competitive sections of the third round of the Western Kenya Motor Club -organised event at the wheels of his Subaru Impreza.

Laukkanen’s maiden victory in Eldoret was in the 2015 edition at the world famous Fluorspar- Nyaru and repeated the feat twice in Moiben area in 2016 and 2017.

Conguest in Eldoret … Tapio Laukkenen and Gavin Laurence in the Subaru Impreza

Conguest in Eldoret … Tapio Laukkanen and Gavin Laurence in the Subaru Impreza

This was Laukkanen’s second win of the season after retiring from the series’ opening Mombasa Cement Rally then clinching his maiden ARC [African Rally Championship] Safari Rally in Naivasha and Nakuru.

Despite setting a fastest stage time, Jassie Chatthe’s Mitsubishi Lancer couldn’t keep up with Laukkanen’s Subaru Impreza.

Laukkanen jointly led the opening Sergoit stage with Chatthe but lost the lead to the latter on the first run of the spectator stage at Chemweno Farm. Promise of cliffhanger, however, evaporated soon enough when Laukkanen bounced back to beat Chatthe by 1:08 minutes on the long 33km Chebiemit stage.

Carl Tundo and Tim Jessop (Mitsubishi Evolution 10) dash for fourth place finish in Eldoret

Carl Tundo and Tim Jessop (Mitsubishi Evolution 10) dash for fourth place finish in Eldoret

As the “Flying Finn” kept increasing the lead, Chatthe, former Safari Rally winner, Baldev Chager (Mitsubishi Evo 10) and Carl “Flash” Tundo were having a big scrap. Chatthe settled for second place as “Boldy” sealed the podium dash. “Flash” took fourth position with Manvir Baryan, the Mombasa Rally winner fifth.

Laukkanen’s navigator Gavin Laurence was elated: “It is a great feeling not only winning but keeping up with the pace with one of the quickest drivers I have ever navigated.”

Safari Rally winner Baldev ‘Boldy’ Chager (left) buckles up … he was third at the Raiply Eldoret Rally

Safari Rally winner Baldev ‘Boldy’ Chager (left) buckles up … he was third at the Raiply Eldoret Rally

Laukkanen added: “Things worked out right for us right from the official reconnaissance of the route to the actual competition. The car also behaved well on stages, which were twisty and fast.”  Laurence took over the navigator’s seat at the beginning of the season.

Among the event’s casualties were Tejveer Rai with fuel pump problems and Eric Bengi who wa time barred. Karan Patel and Ian Duncan dropped time after picking up punctures. Duncan was ninth in his familiar Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10. Osman Abdullahi’s performance was affected badly after his Subaru Impreza suffered two punctures and a damaged drive shaft in a single stage. He eventually finished in the last position.

Wet for others, but for some it was ploughing through farmland during the Raiply Eldoret Rally on Saturday

Wet for others, but for some it was ‘ploughing’ through farm land during the Raiply Eldoret Rally on Saturday

The two-wheel drive category was won by Leonardo Varese with his 15th position in a Toyota Levine. Natasha Tundo and Chantal Young, the sole lady crew in the event, finished in 14th.

Twenty cars were flagged off by Philip Varghese, Director Raiply from the Sikh Union Club.  Competitors covered seven [7] competitive stages around Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties during the day. The spectator sage at Chemweno Farm was run twice.

Despite rain scares, the route course turned out to be dry and dusty. The rally was sponsored by Raiply and co-sponsored by KCB, Liquid Telecommunication and Red Bull.

Jassie Chatthe (left) was second behind Tapio Laukkanen at the Raiply Eldoret Rally on Saturday

Jassie Chatthe (left) was second behind Tapio Laukkanen at the Raiply Eldoret Rally on Saturday

And this is Jassie Chatthe blowing blinding dust in Eldoret on Saturday

And this is Jassie Chatthe blowing blinding dust in Eldoret on Saturday

The entry was one of the lowest for the Western Kenya Motor Club event for a long time. Clerk of course, Surinder Sudle had expressed disappointment with the low turnout of drivers but in the end felt happy with flawless run despite the threat of rains.

“The stage that takes drivers through the forest could prove a handful if rains suddenly come down, although most of the sections are dry,” Sudle  had said in a pre-event forecast.

Though the much anticipated rains caused no signs of concern. The route design made for a  more competitive and entertaining  event for both the drivers and fans. The longest stage will be 33km and the shortest 5km.

Before the race, Duncan, the former multi-time KNRC Champion and Eldoret Rally winner led the overall 2017 season championship with 53 points followed by yet another former champion, Tundo in the second place with 45 points. Obviously that will change when the official results of the latest round are confirmed.

In this flooding rainy season who’d have bet on so much dust …

In this flooding rainy season who’d have bet on so much dust …

2017 RAILPLY ELDORET RALLY:

Provisional results:

1 Tapio Laukkanen/Gavin Laurence -Subaru Impreza, 88.22mins

2 Jassie Chatthe/Gugu Panesar – Mitsubishi Lancer10, 85.40

3 Baldev Chager/Ravi Soni – Mitsubishi Evolution 10, 88.55

4 Carl Tundo/Tim Jessop – Mitsubishi Evolution 10, 86.15

5 Manvir Baryan/Drew Sturrock – Skoda Fabia, 86.43

6 Onkar Rai/Gareth Dawe – Skoda Fabia, 86.19

 7 Karan Patel/James Mwangi – Mitsubishi Evolution 10, 88.01

8 Ammanan Rai/Tauseef Khan – Ford Fiesta, 90.41

9 Ian Duncan /Amaar Slatch – Mitsubishi Evolution 10, 90.46

10 Farhaz Khan/Keith Henrie – Mitsubishi Evolution 10, 91.16

11 Jasmeet Chana/Ravi Chana – Mitsubishi Evolution 10, 94.03

12 Piero Cannobio/Silvia Frigo – Mitsubishi Evolution 10, 94.49

13 Jonathan Somen/Richard Hechle – Ford Escort MK2, 98.18

14 Natasha Tundo/Chantal Young – Subaru Impreza N10, 103.48

15 Leonardo Varese/Kigondu Kareithi – Toyota Corolla RSI, 111.30

16 Amaar Haq/Victor Okundi – Subaru Impreza, 115.17watch full movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

17 Harpreet Sagoo/Paren Hirani – Subaru Impreza N10; 19. 118.05

This is perhaps why there was poor turn-out at the Raiply Eldoret Rally:

AS the low turn-out for the Raiply Eldoret Rally round of the  2017 KNRC was looming, many drivers were severely castigating  sloppy management of rally events by  Kenya Motor Sports Federation [KMSF].

Members of the driving fraternity claimed their appeal that management improves had been met with outright indifference and there were no signs that the situation would improve for the better.

They said that they acknowledged the work that goes in by volunteers across the country, but that “the continued deterioration of the  sport and a sheer and utter disregard of the competitors’ interests by the [KMSF] powers-that- be [undermined] the selfless volunteers.” They said there was a disastrous fall  of  structures within the KMSF.

The charges against the KMSF administration by one of Kenya Rally Drivers Association [KRDA] members, who signed at the end of the communication, included:

  • Despite requests by the Kenya Rally Drivers Association [KRDA] and competitors, we still don’t have NCR’s for 2017- yet even the regulations for Eldoret Rally refer to them. What rules are we rallying on? Can anyone even contest anything without rules?
  • Last year we were told- and I was addressed on radio as ‘playing kindergarten games whilst others were in university’ — I think that was the term used by the Chairman of the KMSF Board of Directors, — about how the loss of Kenya Commercial Bank [KCB] sponsorship was making space for an amazing sponsorship. That hasn’t happened.
  • Rally entry fees have gone up as clubs don’t have the support of a sponsor; a sponsor that we had for many years and who in my opinion and many of others,  was simply frustrated out of the sport no matter how we wish to paint it. This is making it difficult for crews to rally and there doesn’t seem to be any light on the horizon.
  • KNRC1:  The regulations came out on the Tuesday of the rally weekend – three days before ‘recce’ – or one day before most people had to leave for the rally. The route, as far as we know, was not checked by the RC or a ‘top driver’; completely against any NCR’s and IRR’s we have.
  • KNRC2/ Safari Rally: Three days before ‘recce’ was due, ‘recce’ was postponed,  meaning some drivers even had to pull out and everyone had to change their plans or find stand-in navigators; which is not safe. Reading between the lines, the real reason was that the team that eventually pulled off the rally  was given the rally at the last-minute to put together. ‘Kudos’ to them for making it happen; but why were they in that situation in the first place? It’s not like the Safari was a surprise event. Again, completely against any NCR’s and IRR’s we have.
  • KNRC3, Eldoret Rally: We received the regulations again three days before the rally. Some people didn’t do the rally simply because they didn’t even know if it would happen. And who can blame them? Again,  completely against any NCR’s and IRR’s we have.
  • The Foundation and the Federation have ‘split’ — rumours abound,  but we still don’t know what’s really going on.
  • The KRDA organised for the first time ever actual insurance cover for drivers last year and this was handed on to KMSF. Nothing has come from it;  and that is because there are no rules to rally on,  so how can an insurance company cover a sport with no rules? Their insurance policy would be governed by the rules. This is a sheer disregard of the competitors.
  • The seeding has had so many unanswered questions. Naushad, Muchemi all have emails unanswered. Writing to your club makes no difference because KMSF doesn’t reply to the club… so what are we supposed to do?
Natasha Tundo and Chantal Young - Subaru Impreza N10, 14th of 18 finishers ar the Raiply Eldoret Rally on Saturday

Natasha Tundo and Chantal Young – Subaru Impreza N10, 14th of 18 finishers ar the Raiply Eldoret Rally on Saturday

How are people supposed to plan their lives, sponsorships, travel, work etc around this? There are rules and regulations to follow, with set parameters of when documentation should be in, when a ‘recce’ of the route by the RC or a driver should take place, safety plans etc…. none of this is being followed and the people suffering are the competitors;  the largest investors in the sport. As far as we can tell (because there is ZERO communication), is that neither the BOD nor RC is fulfilling its role.

Where is the Motorsports Council? Why are they not addressing this? If the RC is doing its job but they are being frustrated, why don’t they just tell us what’s happening? If the BOD is doing their job but feel other bodies aren’t doing theirs- why not tell us?

More at spectator stage, Chemweno Farm …

More at spectator stage, Chemweno Farm …

The road, 2017 Raiply Eldoret Rally …

The road, 2017 Raiply Eldoret Rally …

Meanwhile, sponsors are not interested in rallying because of what is going on – there has been no sponsor coming in, and many drivers are not rallying anymore. What is the future of our sport?

Why can’t we just get some communication? What would it have taken last week to tell us all what was happening with Eldoret, explain the delay and reassure us the rally was going to happen? It would have taken very little, just some effort and respect for the competitors.

It’s been a while since I stuck my neck out, but perhaps after me getting lambasted last year people will see now that I and the KRDA committee had a point and were doing our best to act before we got to where we are today; and hopefully everyone stands up and ensures they get what they are due from their clubs and the ASN/ KMSF.

What we were afraid last year would happen, has now happened. So, rather than carrying on the way we are why don’t we open up dialogue and fix it? We competitors are desperate to save our sport. Engage us and let’s move forward.

There are no enemies here, just a lot of  ‘pride’ and ‘egos’ getting in the way of a sport we love.
Raaji,
Kenya Rally Drivers Association [KRDA]

-Additional reporting by Correspondents