This year’s KCB Safari Rally, forming part of both the Kenyan national Rally Championship (KnRC) and the FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) was dominated and won by cars prepared by British-based motorsport and automotive specialist, MML Sports.
The company has form in African rallying, having provided the car and assisted in the management of Team Kibos, whose driver, Jaspreet Chatthe, won both series last year.
In addition to managing the two cars run by Team Kibos, MML Sports has also supplied fellow Kenyan regulars and Kabras Sugar Racing’s Baldev Chager – who led the 2016 KnRC heading into the Safari – and Onkar Rai with R4 versions of the Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionX, to the same specification as the cars which Chatthe used to devastating effect in both series in 2015.
The first of the three days of competition was a tour de force for drivers in MML Sports cars, claiming the top three positions after the rally’s opening spectator stage at the Jamhuri Park.
The second day saw them battling hard but Chager was the first to suffer problems, when he was unable to avoid a huge rock in the middle of the road. This smashed into the intercooler and water radiator and as a result, it was not possible for him to continue. Rai also suffered due to a lack of experience of the car, adopting a more conservative approach to ensure he finished the rally. As a result, Chatthe inherited the lead with a clean and trouble-free run, to end the second day at the top of the timesheets, ahead of Rajbir Rai in a Ford Fiesta R5.
Chatthe, co-driven by Gurdeep Panesar, used his experience of both the MML Sports EvoX and the conditions to not only manage his position and the conditions but extend his lead at the head of the field, completing the event with a margin of more than two minutes over Rai in the Fiesta.
Commenting, MML Sports Managing Director, John Easton, said; “I am delighted with not only the fact that Jassi won again this weekend but also, the pace that both Baldev and Onkar were able to run at.
“This was their first rally in their brand-new R4 Lancer EvolutionXs which, as we know from last year, have both the speed and reliability to win on African stages. The fact that they were able to be on the pace right away – claiming the top two times on the rally’s opening stage – is a testament to the potential of both the car and the drivers.
“It was of course unfortunate that Baldev damaged his car and was forced to retire and also, Onkar’s lack of experience in the car cost him some time but they are both very positive about the rest of the KnRC season.
“Jassi winning the event was a very pleasant end to the rally week. As we saw so many times last year, when he competed in both the KnRC and the ARC, he was able to combine speed and maturity to avoid any problems and take a dominant win – his second on the Safari in a row.”