The Kenyan rallying fraternity has described Jonathan Toroitich as a man who loved the sport, showed good sportsmanship and an inspiration to many upcoming drivers.
Jonathan, the former rally star and son of the Kenya’s second president, died last Friday afternoon.
Former Safari Rally champion, Baldev Chager expressed shock after learning of the death of a close rally driver.
“JT was a great African driver with the likes of Njiru and Phineas. We shall always remember him as a champion in his factory-prepared Toyota Celica,” said Baldev.
Baldev went on to say “He was one who loved the sport and was an inspiration for the younger generation of drivers like myself and many African upcoming drivers at the time. We as rally drivers pass our deepest condolences to the Moi family at this sad time.”
Chager remembers finishing behind Toroitich when the president’s son won the 1998 Nanyuki Rally.
Azar Anwar, who won his first Kenya National Rally Championship crown, a year after Jonathan had clinched it in 1997 fondly remembers: “JT was a real gentleman and very good sportsman. We never had any grumbles or noise from him even when results of a rally went against him. He was a true sportsman and a gentleman. We all mourn his death.”
On Easter weekend, when rally fans usually enjoyed Safari Rally then part of the World Rally Championships, Kenya mourns the death of one of the drivers from that era.
Jonathan won the 1997 Kenya National Rally Championship title with the late Ibrahim Choge in a Toyota Celica GT4 at the peak of his rallying career.
Mahesh Saleh, the last person to navigate Jonathan after Choge, said he was devastated after learning of the death.
“I cannot compare Jonathan with any other rally driver in this world. He was a humble and polite person. He never showed off his status and listened to my instructions very carefully. We all mourn his death,” said Mahesh.
For Phineas Kimathi, the man tasked with returning the Safari Rally to the World Rally Championship, Jonathan was “a peerless prince who made us believe.”