Carl “Flash” Tundo and long time co-driver Tim Jessop mastered the muddy Naivasha terrain to savour a record fifth Safari Rally title equalling legendary rally driver Shekhar Mehta. Tundo first won the title in 2004 and followed it up with a win in 2009 when the event was part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
He then won the 2011 edition and defended his title in 2012. His 2018 win gives him maximum 35 points in the second leg of Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) which doubled as Africa Rally Championship (ARC) second leg.
This takes his point s tally in KNRC to 47, having finished fifth in the first leg held in Nakuru for 12 points.
The three-time KNRC champion lead from start to finish on the round, finishing in a time of 1:55:05.8 hours beating second placed Baldev Chager who finished 9 minutes 28.4 seconds later with Ugandan Jas Mangat finishing third.
Charger and Mangat moved up the standings after Onkar Rai and co-driver Gareth Dawe, who were closely chasing Tundo on the second round, were seriously injured in an accident and had to be airlifted to Nairobi Hospital for treatment. Witness accounts indicate that Rai was flying and took a brow at high speed 8km from the finish, staying airborne for over 30 meters before the car nose-dived and hit a bank.
The first medical responder were on time and they administered first aid and put Dawe on life support before taking being airlifted to Nairobi for further treatment. Tanzanians Randeep Singh and Gurvinder Singh were fourth with Eric Bengi, navigated by Tuta Mionki, clinching a career best fifth.
Bengi and Mionki, in a 12-year old Subaru Impreza N12 became the first All Africa crew to match Jonathan Toroitich and the late Ibrahim Choge fifth position in the Safari.
Toroitich achieved this feat 21 years ago though then the Safari was a World Championship event. “It was not easy to race with the flash floods but we pushed where we could. The car is becoming reliable now and I am happy since we have really worked on it. Last year where we had to deal with a series of retirements but the results are showing now,” said an elated Bengi.
Farhaaz Khan of Kenya finished sixth while Uganda’s Duncan Mubiru raced to a seventh finish despite losing grip and sliding into the spectators where the car flipped over and landed on its left side but was quickly pushed back on the ground and was able to proceed.