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Skoda shakes field in man-machine endurance race

That the influx of state-of-the-art racing machines has added additional zest to the rally-sport in the county at the present, goes without saying.

In the past few years KNRC drivers have resorted to rare formulas including the earsplitting S2000 (Super 2000), the R4s (a lighter version of Group N) and R5 cars.

The Ford Fiesta R5 of Rajbir Rai came, saw and conquered. But the arrival of the two Škoda Fabia R5s (built by Škoda Motorsport <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%A0koda_Motorsport>) is what appears to send shivers down the spines of many on the KNRC front.

The season opening KCB Nakuru Rally 2019 saw Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 10s (which are R4) struggle against Onkar Rai’s R5.

Onkar, a former KNRC Divison Two Champion beat Carl “Flash” Tundo by a mere four seconds in a last stage thriller on Gicheha. The Skoda is literally unbeatable on the twisty and technical “Mickey Mouse” type of terrains like the Gicheha Farm which was dubbed a Skoda paradise.

Onkar sealed an unprecedented hat-trick of Nakuru Rally wins on the Skoda with back to back African Rally Champion Manvir Baryan also becoming the first ever driver to win a continental rally series in a similar make.

The removal of the B13 Class in the KNRC appeared to aggravate woes of Evo crews as they are now compelled to now drive at 100 per cent.

The B13 class, phased out by the KMSF Rallies Commission effective 2019, permitted crews a bigger turbo restrictor and sequential gear box.

R4 Evo driver Baldev Chager noted: “This season I am not looking forward to the 33mm restrictors again and normal h pattern gearbox. The larger 34mm restrictor and sequential boxes had added a little zest last year making our R4 Evos a little faster and fun to drive. So to keep up with the R5 category cars I guess we just have to try even harder this year.”

Despite the massive Skoda advantage, Tundo insists the essence is to finish and finish well!  Said he: “Skoda has huge advantage at every level to be honest so not much we can do about that. I think it’s the toughest car we have competed against in KNRC.