- Karan Spent three days in Finland with the Toyota team
- Toyota are the current winners of the Safari Rally
- Karan is the Kenyan national champion
Newly crowned Kenyan Champion Karan Patel has impressed winter instructors in Jyväskylä, Finland where he spent three days with Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team in a championship celebration and pre-season test.
Karan -who is Kenya’s first RedBull athlete- noted that the rare snow driving experience is not only a challenge for every rally driver but also an indescribable experience that is known to improve driving on other surfaces.
“I’m happy that I was able to impress the instructors with my precision and pace, and they rated me among one of the top drivers they’ve trained. That was a real confidence boost.”
Hosted by team principal Jari Matti Latvala, the youngest ever world champion Kalle Rovanpera and his Toyota team mates Takamoto Katsuta and Elfyn Evans – the three day event featured a series of experiences that inspired the Kenyan champion.
C0-driving with Katsuta
One such experience was co-driving Takamoto Katsuta on the icy stages of the manufacturer champion’s test site near Jyvaskyla.
With temperatures dipping below -16 degrees the duo shook off the cold while blistering through the 17km test loop in the snow spangled Finnish forests.
“It was inspiring to sit alongside ‘Taka-san’ in the Toyota GR Rally 1 car, and experience first hand the pace and sheer skill it takes to succeed at the pinnacle of the sport. The Hybrid Rally 1 car is worlds of difference from my R5, and Taka’s footwork and instinct on ice are impressive” Said Patel after the experience.
The Japanese driver who has lived in the Rally Finland host city Jyväskylä, close to the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team base for several years and competed regularly on Finnish roads earlier in his career, calls Rally Finland his ‘second home rally’.
Go behind the scenes
At the team’s base, Patel went behind the scenes of the teams preparations ahead of the new season that kicks off with Rally Monte Carlo in January.
The 31year old speedster Patel also spent a day training on ice behind the wheel of a Toyota Yaris GR with instructors from the reknown Esko Reiners training school.
Patel is no stranger to driving on mixed surfaces and he fondly recalls his time in the Drive DMack Cup (Junior WRC Championship) in 2016 where he competed in 5 WRC rallies across Europe, including Rally Finland and Rally Poland.
The trip culminated in a colorful celebration by the World Champions hosted by the City Of Jyvaskyla at the iconic Pavijionki square.
In addition to world champions Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen and the Toyota Gazoo Racing team, various rally legends took to the stage, with top Finnish artists ensuring rally fans got into true party mode.