The famous battles between man and machine are back. Rally season is here

24th Feb, 2016

It’s back! The excitement. The adrenalin. The dust. The wind. The twists and turns. The super charged crowd. The Beasts are back! The Kenya National Rally Championship 2016 series is here!

Men and cars has always been one combination that has lasted for ages. Well, its sports and men to be honest, but I’m not taking anything away from the ladies who love the sport. I have a lady friend who loves rallying more than anything, sometimes I think more than clothes and shoes which is inbred in most women; she’s currently training to be a rally navigator and knowing her tenacity, I just might be looking at a future champion.

Before I indulge in the technicalities and what makes rallying in Kenya so great, I need to recognize one lady who makes the rally events run so seamlessly. She makes everything look so easy and at her age, she challenges me to do more with my life. Sylvia King. Sylvia has rallying in her veins. Sylvia who just celebrated her 70th birthday in 2015 is the fabric that holds the organization of any rally together and for that simple fact, I celebrate her.

This year, the rally calendar starts in the County of Kajiado (February 27th). Now, ladies, just so you don’t show up under or over-dressed; Kajiado is hot and dusty, leave your heels at home, don’t wear white unless you plan go trash it after and yeah, don’t wear heels, you’ll end up looking like an ostrich-they don’t have the best walking style. For the guys, stick to shorts and sneakers and you’ll be alright.

This year will see the rally transverse across Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret, Mombasa and my all-time favorite, Nanyuki! It’s safe to say that with the addition of Mombasa and Nanyuki to the calendar this year, this will be one of the best calendars we’ve had in a while, so you all better start making those plans.

Last year Jaspreet Chatthe or Jassi as we are used to calling him was on a roll! Jassi from Team Kibos not only won the KNRC championship, but he was also crowned the African Rallying Champion for 2015. Such a spectacular feat especially when you consider that his main rival in the Kenyan series is the phenomenal Tapio Laukkanen who we fondly refer to as the ‘The Flying Fin’ – the only way he knows how to drive is flat out. I need to remember to ask him how he drives when he goes grocery shopping, this guy is a maniac on the circuit-In a good way.

KCB Group has renewed its sponsorship for the 14th year in the rallying sport. The partnership with Kenya Motor Sport Federation has been great during the last 13 years and hopefully that will continue. It’s always great to see corporates get involved in sports, sometimes it’s not all about making profits, organizations need to invest in the communities they operate in. Key to note is KCB Group’s tag line to the rallying sport “bringing the rally to the people” and having the series run through multiple Counties over the year is a great way of doing just that.

Rumor has it that a few more Ford Fiestas are joining the circuit after they made their debut in last year’s series. I have a feeling that Manvir Baryan & Rajbir Rai who raced in those spectacular tiny machines last year will have something to say about the championship this season. Of course we are also rooting for the tiny Skoda Fabia driven by Quentin Mitchell, he’s pretty confident he’s cracked out how to get the best out of it. The EVO 10s have dominated the series the last couple of years and this year might not be any different. Word on the grape vine is that Carl Tundo is working on a new machine (fuse between a Ford Fiesta & an EVO 10) for this season after ditching the Proton, so yeah, this season will be very interesting.

Enough about the cars. As much as I love talking about these magnificent beasts, there’s so much more about the rally. It’s fun. Rallying is fun. The entire atmosphere around it is fun. From the traveling, to the scenery, to the crowds, to watching the ultimate battles between man and machine, to the great company and great food; it’s essentially a one stop shop to any fun loving person.

I’ve met some great friends following the rally across the country. I’ve met Dan, I think his name was Dan, I gave him my phone cable and he never returned it (if you own an iPhone you can appreciate my fuss); I’ve met Thairo who follows the rally everywhere and actually made a business out of it. Let’s face it, following the rally you end up in the middle of nowhere and Thairo ensures that when you need to eat, he’s there-he barbecues meat for sale-pretty genius if you ask me.

So yeah, hopefully we can get to see huge crowds this year in the circuit. This might just be one of the most unpredictable rallying seasons yet. With the new machines and the usual suspects; The Legend Ian Duncan, Tundo, Tapio and Jassi; it sure cannot disappoint.

Rev up! And see you on the 27th of February for the Kajiado Rally; carry your hats, your sunscreen and let’s have fun!

By: Brian Kuira

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