This weekend saw a superb start to the season for MML Sports and Team Kibos, using one of its two cars developed by the UK company. The team finished the Kisumu Rally, the opening round of the Kenyan national Rally Championship, with Jassi Chatthe the first African driver home.
Over the course of the winter, the two Team Kibos cars, one for the Kenyan series and one for the FIA African Rally Championship, had been converted from Group N to R4 specification by MML Sports, using the official Mitsubishi kit it jointly developed.
While many felt that the R4 components, designed to give Group N a performance advantage to allow it to compete with Super 2000 cars, were not strong enough for rough African rallies, MML Sports was confident in its products.
The event also saw the debut of the R5 category in Africa, with a pair of Ford Fiesta R5s entered on the rally.
As it transpired, the MML Sports/Team Kibos R4 car was more than up to the task. Jassi enjoyed a largely trouble-free run except for one stage, where the car remained in launch mode, meaning the engine would not rev past 4000rpm and he dropped 40 seconds to the eventual winner in the one stage.
By the time the crews reached the finish ramp, it was former British and Finnish Rally Champion Tapio Laukkanen who won, just 54 seconds ahead of Chatthe, who was the leading African driver in the first round of the national series.
Commenting, MML Sports Managing Director John Easton said; “I am delighted with the way this weekend went. I think clearly if Tapio had not been there, Jassi would have won the rally. As it was, Team Kibos is delighted to be the first African team finishing their local event.
“I’m also delighted that he had a fundamentally clean rally, other than the electrical issue which cost him some time. Everyone said that an R4-specification car wouldn’t stand up to a rough rally like this and we’ve shown that ours does, so that’s very encouraging.
“We had a lot of interest from other drivers over the weekend once they saw that our R4 kit not only makes the cars more competitive but also, more reliable.”
Of the two R5 cars entered, one retired after an accident while the other finished eighth.
The next round of the KnRC will be the KCB Safari Rally in April.