Laukkanen leads from start to finish in Eldoret

By samson ateka
Jul 05, 2021
  • Tapio Laukkanen led from start to finish in the KCB Eldoret Rally. (Photo Courtesy)

Finnish driver Tapio Laukkanen took a convincing outright victory in the KCB Eldoret Rally after leading from start to finish in a Subaru Impreza GVB13.

The former British and Finland Rally champion beat Kenyan youngster Rajbir Rai by a 2 minutes 55seconds margin to make up for months of disappointments while former Ugandan champion Jas Mangat sealed the podium dash 3:52 minutes behind the winner.

Laukkanen who is tackling the full season of the 2015 Kenya National Rally Championship won the opening Kisumu Rally in February but has had to contend with gremlins thereon. "I mean the whole day we had some issues with our engine which was not running with full power.

So at the begining I was a bit worried-but getting to the finish with a good result after some scares is always a good feeling. The roads are slightly rougher than what we have in Europe and Group Ns are not good on this types of roads," said Laukkanen who was navigated by Pasi Torma in his R4 Subaru.

Laukkanen opened a 14-second cushion after the first run of the 40km Kispsaos-Kimwarer stage but the lead over Rajbir Rai was reduced to a mere two seconds when Laukkanen's car got a puncture on Flourspar stage. "We drove only two kilometers after we picked up a front left puncture on the initial run of Flourspar luckyly we didn't lose so much time," stated Laukkanen.

Rajbir Rai said they are slowly getting the hang of the Ford Fiesta R5 which made way into Kenya roads in earlier in the year. "We are getting better and better by event so we will see if we can keep the pace. We have three events left so let's see how it goes," said Rajbir.

Laukkanen won five out of six stages with Rajbir Rai winning the initial run at Flourspar. Quentin Mitchell finished fourth while KNRC leader Japreet Chatthe was fifth. Carl Tundo finished sixth followed by Manvir Baryan and defending champion Baldev Chager who finished eighth.

Frustrated by two punctures

Chager had his run frustrated by two punctures on the Flourspar stage while Tundo lost the inter-cooler going into the second loop.

Out of the 51 who entered the event, 36 survived the demanding conditions. The next rally moves to Machakos and Lisa Farm in Konza next month. Top drivers who retired were Ian Duncan (12kms into the first section), Alastair Cavenagh and Onkar Rai.

In the same rally, Eric Bengi regained the championship lead after winning the Two-Wheel Drive Class. Farhaaz Khan won KNRC Division 1 class in 13th while Jansher Sandhu won KNRC Division Three in 11th overall position with Dennis Mwenda winning Division 2 for the second event running.

Navigated by Tony Gikuhi in a Toyota RunX, Bengi finished the Western Kenya Motor Cub (WKMC) round in 19th overall position. Second in 2WD was Sammy Nyorri also in a Run X while Gurmit Thethy came third.

"After retiring in Voi, we have assessed our risks and evaluated the capability of the car. It was really important for us to score some points in this rally after the mishap in Voi and I'm happy we have our lead back," said Nyorri.

"CS1 our Proflex shocks did 15km only. After that we drove without rear shocks. The problem was fixed in service so we were limping through prior to the second loop."

Gurmit Thethy romped home third in 2WD to make up for his no-show in Voi. "We had a good run in Eldoret, although we lost time in the first stage when we caught the car ahead of us and were sitting in its dust for about 15kms.

With poor visibility I hit a couple of stones and damaged the exhaust. On the last loop in the Flouspar section we had to do the last 4kms with jamming brakes which slowed us down further. All in All, it was a great event and we are happy to have finished third and also breaking the Eldoret Jinx in style!," Thethy admitted.

Provisional results

Main Class: 1. Jaspreet Chatthe 113.5, 2. Ian Duncan 74.5, 3. Baldev Chager 66.5, 4 =Jas Mangat 60, 4= Rajbir Rai 60, 6. Tapio Laukkanen 58, 7. Onkar Rai 39, 8. Carl Tundo 37, 9. Manvir Baryan 31.

2WD: 1. Eric Bengi 87.5, 2. Leonardo Varese 83.5, 3. Sammy Nyorri 82.5, Bhupinder Sagoo 60.5, 5. Alex Lairang'i 60, 6. Gurmit Thethy 52, 7. Geoff Mayes 24, 8. Prakash Jetain 21, 9 Arif Kana 8.

S Class: 1. James Kirimi 81.5, 2. Chandrakant Devji 79, 3. Murage Wa Waigwa 77.5, 4. Eric Njogu 43.5, 5. Nadeem Kana 42, 6. Hussein Malik 36, 7. Taiti Wachira 27.