Sunday, December 9, 2012

Chathe, Panesar top in Kisumu

PHOTO | ANWAR SIDI  Driver Jaspreet Singh Chathe (inset, left) and co-driver Gugu Panesar (inset, right) power their Mitusbishi Lancer Evo9 to victory in the Equator Motor Club Training Rally in Kisumu on December 9, 2012.

PHOTO | ANWAR SIDI Driver Jaspreet Singh Chathe (inset, left) and co-driver Gugu Panesar (inset, right) power their Mitusbishi Lancer Evo9 to victory in the Equator Motor Club Training Rally in Kisumu on December 9, 2012.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ABDUL SIDI

KISUMU

Jaspreet Chathe and Gugu Panesar won their home round of the Equator Motor Club Training Rally in Kisumu on Sunday.

The Mitsubishi Lancer crew scored fastest section times in all the stages to prove they were the best among the drivers from the Kisumu region, despite driving on the wettest and most slippery of conditions.

“It was wet but I enjoyed it. I favour wet conditions because of the nature of work we do on the sugar plantations. It has given me lots of confidence and experience,’’ said Chathe.

The 33-year-old driver made his rally debut at the beginning of the 2012 season. His performance in the Kenya Rally Championship has been an eye opener not only for his fans, but also fellow rally drivers, barely a full season into the competition.

His best result was a fifth in the Nanyuki Rally.

Brothers, Dilraj and Savraj Bhui, another Kisumu pair, were unlucky to bow out of the rally with a damaged clutch in their Subaru Impreza while lying a strong second overall.

Seven other rally cars, normally featured in major rounds of the Kenya National Rally Championship, were at the forefront of the rally that is meant to develop talent from the grass root level of the sport.

15 years of age

Imran Kana/Mohamed Kana won the Two Wheel drive class by finishing fifth overall in a Toyota Levine.

At 15 years of age, Jay Dhotia became the youngest ever navigator to finish a round of the Training Rally Championship.

He guided his dad Jitu Dhotia to the second overall place in the rally. Several of the students, who attended the Abdul Sidi Rally Academy sessions a day earlier, were also in action to put to practice what had been passed on to them the previous day.

Apart from the navigators, there were several Time Controllers who had featured in the ASRA Training project.

Bashir Niaz and Jonathan Koskei were among the early casualties after their Toyota Celica suffered broken driver-shaft towards the end of the first loop.

The chairman of the Equator Motor Club, Manjeet Sembi said his team would like to organise more of such events next year to help local rallying fraternity to come closer to the sport.

“I am hoping we can organize at least one unique night rally next year to see if that can be a challenge to those willing to do such rallies. We will start working on the best way to lure drivers from all sides to come to Kisumu. I am extremely pleased with plans so far,’’ said Sembi.

‘Flying Thin’

Bimal Shah, one of the quickest rally drivers for Kenya to ever produce during his era, was among some of the big names to grace the first-ever round the training rally event to be held in his home town of Kisumu.

He is the vice chairman of the Equator Motor Club.

The “Flying Thin’’ (reference to his thin built body) in what was the first-ever Subaru Impreza Group ‘A’ rally car to grace the KNRC series, still holds the record for having gone quickest up the Flour Spa Hills (Eldoret) in 16 minutes and 41 seconds.