- Karan has racked up four straight wins in the KNRC circuit
- Jasmeet Chana finished second
- Up next is the WRC Safari Rally next month
Karan Patel retained his lead on top of the Kenya National rally Championship (KNRC) log after a stunning comeback to beat Jasmeet Chana to the Eldoret Rally title on Saturday.
Patel had a horrible start to his campaign at the iconic Cherangany Hills when he picked up a puncture at the start, but he managed to fight back and edge Chana, who had led for most of the race, to second.
Driving his old Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and navigated by Tauseef Khan, the Nairobi based speedster took the lead from Chana after the 34.48km mark which was in the seventh and penultimate speed test at A.T.C.
He eventually beat the erstwhile leader by a 1.15minutes margin to win the fourth round of the Kenya National rally Championship (KNRC). Karan picked up a puncture on the day’s opening test at Cheptiret Primary 1 (23.25km).
“The puncture kept us on our toes. I think it just made us not feel too comfortable. The tarmac stage was great but then again it used up the tyres on its initial run,” an excited Karan said after the race.
He has been in scintillating form this season and racked up his fourth win, having also clinched victory at the KMSC Il-Bisil Rally, Nakuru Rally and April’s ARC Equator Rally.
In his stunning comeback in Eldoret, Karan also savoured maximum bonus points for winning the repeat run of the 17km at Seret stage which counted as the event’s Power Stage.
Meanwhile, Chana was happy with second overall position despite the fact that he coulnd’t sustain a fightback from Karan.
“I think because of the temperature and the high altitude, we were struggling climbing up the hills in the afternoon. We didn’t have a maximum boost as much as we tried pushing. It came to a point where the car was overheating, so we let go,” he said.
He added; “The roads are amazing though. They are open roads but all managed properly. Stage 1 was very fast. Stage 2 at Chebai, very different, I mean as Kenyans we are not used to driving on tarmac. So, it was a steep learning curve for us but very interesting as well. Stage 3 was quick towards the beginning and the ending became a bit difficult.”
Old boy Ghalib Hajee returned to his Eldoret home turf for the umpteenth time after a long layoff, but made all the local knowledge and experience count when he returned his Evolution X to third overall position.
“The tarmac stage was really great. But being the only entrant from Eldoret I really had to push sensibly hard to please the home fans. Seeing the home spectators cheering me on by the roadside, was a great feeling,” said Hajee.
Karan’s brother Kush Patel finished fourth, losing the podium to Ghalib by milliseconds.
Sam Karangatha won the Classic category in 5th overall position behind the wheel of a Minti Motorsports Datsun 180B and navigated by Steven Nyorri. Former Brookhouse schoolmates Leonardo Varese and Kigo Kareithi in a Toyota Auris won the Two Wheel Drive category.
PROVISIONAL RESULTS-ELDORET RALLY
1.Karan Patel/Tauseef Khan (EVOX) 02:06.13.5
- Jasmeet Chana/Ravi Chana (EVOX) 02:07.00.7
- Ghalib Hajee/Riyaz Ismail (EVOX) 02:16.02.8
- Kush Patel/Mudasar Chaudry (Subaru) 02:16.38.3
- Sam Karangatha/Steven Nyorri (Datsun 180B) 2:35.30.4