Akhif Virani, one of the drivers lined up for today’s KCB Meru Rally, has withdrawn after declaring part of the route “untenable.”
Virani said the stages were too wet and he did not want to take a risk in the new Skoda Fabia R5 he had bought just last week.
“I just checked stage four, five and six. It was too wet to check the opening sections because of mud. I finally decided it was not worth it and instead we decided to go back home,” Virani told Nation Sport.
Virani bought his car from Manvir Baryan, the three-times African Rally Champion.
Baryan is in another Skoda Fabia and is seeded third out of the 18 cars that will be flagged off Saturday morning.
There are scattered rains around the areas where the cars are going to pass. Drivers not sure what to expect.
The first car will be flagged off at 7am by the Meru Governor Kiraitu Mirungi from the KCB branch in Nkubu.
Ammar Haq and Victor Okundi need to finish in the top three places of the Group ‘N’ category of the remaining three events of the KCB Kenya National Rally Championship to be declared Class winners.
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10 drivers are among the now 18 crews set to take part in the KCB Meru Rally Saturday morning.
Haq, who finished ninth overall in last year’s final standings of the Kenya National Rally Championship, is looking to do well in Meru to maintain his lead in the Group ‘N’ Class.
“We have a lead of 18 points which should be fine as long as we finish in the top three places in our group. We just need to stay within reach of Jasmeet Chana to take the title,” said Haq.
Haq and Okundi trail Karan Patel and James Mwangi by 18 points in Division One, but are doubtful of catching the latter with three rounds remaining.
Stages will be: SS1 Kiraitu at 7.18am, SS2 Kinoro Tea Factory (8.01am), SS3 Meru Showground (8.59am), SS4 and SS8 Kenya Re (10.12 12.13pm), SS5 & SS9 Ntugi (10.15am and 1316), SS6 and SS10 Mungania (10.28am and 1.29pm), SS7 and SS11 and Meru Showground (11.26am and 2.27pm).
There will be a total of seven competitive stages.
The total distance will be 283 kilometres long of which 155 kilometres will be competitive distance.
The five-kilometre Meru Showground stage will be done three times while Kinoro Tea Factory, Kenya Re, Ntungi and Mungania will be done twice.
Meanwhile, Wambui Kiiru, who last rallied competitively in the 2014 KNRC as a navigator, is the Competitor Liaison Officer (CRO) in the Meru Rally. Kiiru has performed senior duties as Secretary of the Stewards Meeting in the Safari Rally and the Rwanda Rally respectively.
She is joined by yet another Abdul Sidi Rally Academy student, Joe Muchiri who rallied in 2016. Muchiri is the Environmental Officer.