Africa Rally Championship (ARC) title holder Manvir Baryan and navigator Drew Sturrock headline entries for the 2018 Safari Rally, scheduled for March 16-18, which doubles up as the second leg of the ARC in their Skoda Fabia R5.
The 2017 Kenya Motorsports Personality of the year award winner will battle with seven other local drivers in the ARC category as they equally look to score points for the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) on its second leg.
They finished fourth in the season opening Nakuru rally. KNRC leader Onkar Rai is amongst the eight drivers who have already forwarded their names to the organizers, with more names expected before entries close on March 10.
Entries attract a fee of Sh50,000 but organisers have waived entry fees for foreign drivers. Rai will be navigated by Gareth Dawe in the same Skoda Fabia he drove to outright victory in the opening round of KNRC in Nakuru last month. In 2017 Rai finished in an impressive fourth, but had not entered the ARC. Third place finisher Carl Tundo won the ARC category followed by Jaspreet Chatthe in 6th and Manvir Baryan in 9th.
Other drivers who have entered the continental championship are Jasmeet Chana, co driven by his brother Ravi Chana in a Mitsubishi Evo 9, Farhaaz Khan and Navigator Keith Henrie in a Mitsubishi EvoX, Imran Khan and co-driver by Kennedy Masoni in a Subaru Impreza N10 among others.
The terrain for this year’s rally has been tailored to suit the World Rally Championship (WRC) specifications as the event seeks to make a return to the WRC by 2020. The rally will be flagged off outside Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi where drivers will cover 94km transport section as they head to Sopa Lodge in Naivasha for service.
The first competitive stage which is 12km-long will be run in Aberdare 1 but the total distance covered in day one will be 156km, including liaison sections. Day Two will see cars head to Soysambu Ranch for the first stage of the day, followed by other stages at Sleeping Warrior and Aberdare II.
These stages will be repeated twice for a total competitive distance of 143km and an additional 162km road sections. The final day of the rally the route will cover 31km long Kedong section followed by Aberdare II before ending at Sopa Lodge by mid-day.