Physically challenged rally driver Nikhil Sachania returned to the sport which nearly killed him some years back. The accident took place in Athi River when he was training with Shazar Anwar and Zane Young in readiness for his first event.
He hit a rock at high speed and landed head first. The impact shattered his spine. But the Nairobi-based driver has always wanted to race no matter what. PD Wikendi talked to him about his 2018 exploits after his comeback. Excerpts:
Q: How would you describe your season?
A: 2018 has been one of my best years. It has been a challenging one with the new car and the increased pace. Overall, it has really been fun.
Q: What do you attribute your achievement to?
A: Well a number of factors and people. Tinu Khan for managing the team and maintaining the car. Alfir Khan for navigating and mentoring me through out the season. And of course the support from my family and friends.
Q: What were challenges in the season?
A: We had a number of challenges throughout the season. The gearbox had overheating issues and gear selector problems, we managed to sort that out with a few upgrades to the box. Throughout the season we have had issues with the rear diff hopefully we can sort that out next season.
Q: Who supported your campaign in 2018?
A: We have had a few sponsors through the season. AAA Growers, ROCKPLANT, EAISL and Tile & Carpet just to name but a few. They have helped us to get to where we are today and I am very grateful to them.
Q: Which was your most challenging rally in 2018?
A: The most challenging rally was Mombasa Rally. We had several issues starting with the brakes, the diff issues, the fuel pump failure, car not wanting to start in service just to name a few! The stages were very enjoyable though. With the change in weather conditions we got to drive various terrains.
Our plan was to attack from the word go but we came across a few issues. Start of CS1 we had a fuel pump failure. We managed to limp through CS2 and CS3 into service. We took extra time in service as we came across some electrical issues that had to be resolved. CS4 was a clean stage except towards to end where we lost our central diff.
Half way through CS5 the hydraulic pump to the hand controls failed so we were without brakes. Brakes were there but very difficult to use as the pump assists to press the pedal. So as good as no brakes.
We managed to resolve the issue in service. CS7 and 8 we more or less clean runs but we took them easy as we had nothing to gain in position. At the end of it all finished 9th overall which was quite encouraging considering the fact that it was my first Mombasa rally.
Q: Which was your best rally in the season?
A: The ARC Safari Rally was one of the best rallies this year. I enjoyed the changing stage conditions and the flow of the stages. We finished 11th my highest finish in the Safari Rally.
Q: Which was the most technical event this season?
A: Nanyuki was a very technical rally through Loldaiga. The stages were great fun though. The car seems to have held up pretty well. We had to keep resetting the computer for the centre diff as it kept going into safe mode.
We managed to secure the SPV championship in this rally..
Q: What are your plans for 2019?
A: Hopefully in 2019 we manage to secure a sponsorship to help upgrade the rear of the car. I hope to keep our consistent results going for the season.
Q: What’s the difference between the S2000 and your current Evo?
A: The Evo is pretty straight forward. We had some challenges setting up the gearbox for rally purpose but it has been resolved. It is a group N spec with the only addition of the hand controls and the SST transmission.
Compared to the S2000 the EVO X is a turbo powered car where as the Abarth was a normally aspirated machine. The gearbox is the major difference. In the Abarth we used a sequential gb and the EVO we are running the standard SST transmission.