The Star (Nairobi)

8 July 2013

Kenya: Baldev Is King

After years of trying Baldev Singh Chager and his partner Ravi Soni racked up their maiden KCB Safari Rally 2013 diadem in Kajiado winning the fifth round of the FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) event with a massive 10.06minutes margin over veteran Azar Anwar.

Chager, who didn't score ARC points beat Azar to second place while Quentin Mitchell sealed the podium dash.

Chager led from the second day to the very last stage thus chalking up his second win of the Kenya National Rally Championship series incidentally on the round five tour.

Chager becomes the first Sikh driver to achieve the feat in 37 years- since legendary Joginder Singh Bachu last won it with David Doig.

Joginder won the Safari three times with his brother Jaswant Singh in 1965, 1974 and 1976 with David Doig.

Chager's calm and assured march to last service at AIC Olekajuado Girls School along the Namanga Highway belied the excitement that was bubbling underneath and it exploded in a solid stream of joy when he drove into his designated service area.

Chager won the season opening rally in Kajiado last January a fact that has made defending champion Carl Tundo believe there will be no realistic chance of winning back the title.

Chager needs to finish third in the next three events in Mombasa, Kisumu and the prestigious Guru Nanak Rally which is associated with Sikhism.

"Championship hopes are definitely over," said Tundo who retired in the long 84 kilometre stage running from Il-Bisel all the way to Parane. Chager had his campaign effectively sewn up when Duncan retired on Saturday with turbo gremlins and Tundo with engine failure yesterday.

"The Safari is always magical to win. We have tried to win it for many years, we've been leading a couple of times but we've always ended up having problems. This year we were leading from the second stage all the way to the end. I'm happy that everything was on my side." said Chager.

Its been three days of high octane action. It's been very challenging for all crews including Onkar Rai and Jassi Chatthe rolled in yesterday's Leg 2 while Richard Onyoni's car was on fire on his very first outing since retutrnng from a four year sabbatical.

Quentin Mitchell savoured a second podium spot on the Safari in as many years.

"This is a real testimony to our team for keeping us going on one of the toughest safaris in history! I really want to thank my navigator Robin Dimbleby, Geoff Jones, Colin Schreiber, family, and the entire QMR Team," said Mitchell.

Provisional Final results:

1. Baldev Chager 2:51.03

2. Azar Anwar 3:01.09

3. Quentin Mitchell 3:20.36

4. Frank Tundo 3:06.08

5. Manvir S. Baryan 3:10.56

6. Rajbir Rai 3:13.35

7. Essa M. 3:19.45

8. Jasmeet Chana 3:24.43

9. Tejvir Rai 3:29.06

10. Don Smith 3:30.10

11. Jaswinder Chana 3:37.41

12. Anwar Pandya 3:37.57

13. Steve Gacheru 3:40.11

14. Nzioka Waita 3:40.50

15. Hardeep Rehsi 3:43.35

16. Jas Mangat 3.58.33

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