13 Local Rally Drivers to Lookout for in 2021 WRC Safari Rally

13 Local Rally Drivers to Lookout for in 2021 WRC Safari Rally

Naomi Wandede
updated at April 12, 2023 at 7:49 PM
  • Maxine Wahome will be the only female driver in the race, flying the Kenyan flag high in a Subaru Impreza N10
  • Local stars Carl Tundo, Baldev Chager, Onkar and Tejveer Rai will be aiming for top spots in the rally

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After 19 long years, motorsport fans globally are thrilled as the Safari Rally kicks off as part of the World Rally Championship (WRC) series once again.

Safari Rally cars.Photo: State House Kenya.
Safari Rally cars.Photo: State House Kenya.
Source: Facebook

Some 58 rally drivers, 34 Kenyan and 24 foreign, will take part in this year’s edition that will be headlined by Frenchman Sébastien Ogier, who has claimed seven WRC titles in the last eight seasons.

Most Kenyan drivers have set the base expectation of completing the 300km rally, while some are eyeing a top 10 finish.

Below, we look at some of the local drivers expected to give the established international rally aces a run for their money.

Carl “Flash” Tundo – VW Polo R5

The formidable Tundo is a five-time Safari Rally winner, equaling Shekhar Mehta’s record of five wins. He is also a four-time KNRC champion. The speed wizard will be driving a VW Polo R5 in the WRC Safari Rally.

Baldev Singh Chager–Mitsubishi Evo X

The veteran ‘Flying Singh’ is not new to the Safari Rally. He is the reigning Safari Rally winner and a multiple KNRC champion. He is on his eighth year under the Kabras Sugar Racing sponsorship.

Onkar Rai - VW Polo R5

Okar, one of the entrants under Kabras Sugar, is a rally veteran with vast local and international experience. He will spearhead Kenya’s attack in the championship, having been selected and emerged as the fastest local driver in the Shakedown at Loldia, where he tackled the 5.1km stretch in 4:07.6 minutes.

Tejveer Rai - VW Polo R5

A brother to Onkar, Tejveer will also be among the Kenyans to watch out for in the WRC event. He was also selected to participate in the Shakedown, where he emerged as the third fastest local driver.

Karan Patel – Ford Fiesta R5

Kenya National Rally Championship Premier Class driver Karan Patel has vowed to go flat out at this week’s WRC Rally.

Eric Bengi - Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X (R4)

KNRC Premier Class driver and 2018) Division One champion believes the prestigious event may require certain amounts of calmness and says finishing the Safari Rally will itself be an amazing achievement.

Hussein Malik - Mitsubishi Evo X

The 40-year-old, who Linet Ayuko will navigate, has shed over 20kg to be fit for the global showpiece. The KNRC Division One driver also travels to the rough terrains of Lukenya, Machakos County, every month to test his car. He has set his sights on completing the gruelling WRC contest.

Jasmeet Chana ‘Ice Man’ - Mitsubishi Evo X

The auto mechanic, who will be racing for the CRS Motorsport team, takes pleasure in building rally cars for a living. But he is also an established rally driver and will relish the chance to compete against the world’s best in the WRC. Jasmeet makes up the elite group of Kenyan drivers categorized in the elite KNRC Premier Class currently lies third in the Championship log behind leader Chager and Tundo.

Issa Amwari - Mitsubishi Evo X

The Abdul Sidi Rally Academy graduate made his debut in the 2010 KCB Safari Rally and was in 2019 promoted to Premier Class following a career-best season which saw him finish joint seventh with Ian Duncan on the KNRC drivers’ log. He is one of the fastest rising black, indigenous drivers who will be joining flying the Kenyan flag WRC Safari Rally in Naivasha.

Nikhil Sachania - Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

A physically challenged rally champion with an insatiable appetite for success! Nikhil won the hearts of many motoring enthusiasts by returning to a sport that nearly killed him. Confined to a wheelchair, Nikhil rebounded in 2014 to win the Sports Personality of the Year (Soya) award in the special category. He is also a multiple winner of the KNRC Specially Prepared Vehicle Class and Motorsport Personality of the Year. He has dominated the SPV Class, winning it thrice (2014, 2015 and 2019). Nikhil is the son of rally driver Dinesh Sachania, better known as “Kaka Samani”.

Nzioka Waita – Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

State House Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita, navigated by Tuta Mionki, is highly optimistic about finishing this week’s WRC Safari Rally after a successful outing at the Equator Rally.

Rio Smith – Ford Fiesta R2

Rio, 18, will be taking part in WRC Safari Rally for the very first time and is the youngest entrant in this year's event. His father, Don, is also a rally driver who has previously competed in what is dubbed "the toughest rally on the planet".

Maxine Wahome - Subaru N10

Maxine, the only female driver in the race, will be flying the Kenyan flag high in a Subaru N10, teaming up with seasoned navigator Chantal Young as they tackle the dusty Naivasha routes and battle in a male-dominated rally.

They are backed by a capable crew that includes former Rally driver Asad Khan, aka Kalulu. This is Maxine’s first rally.

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Naomi Wandede photo
Naomi Wandede