Nairobi — While many sporting fans are left wondering just when they will catch a glimpse of their favourite stars back in action, racing fans don't have to wait any longer as myriad drivers are already at it in online sim racing competitions.
The competition sprung up as a result of the void left behind by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that has crippled sports activities.
Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) Premier Class driver Karan Patel hasn't been left behind during these tough times. He is taking advantage of the lull to savour his driving lines electronically.
"For now, we have moved to what is called electronic platform of racing. Currently, there are many sports taking place on simulators. So, eSports is becoming a big thing. There are big numbers of local youngsters and older people who are actually racing regularly online," Patel said.
"I have been racing online because I haven't been out in a seat as such but very much electronically in a rally seat. It's nothing compared to the real thing though. If things get better, we are hoping to have our next race around July, so we are looking forward to getting back on to the rally car again," he added.
"We hope that things will come back to normal following this global outbreak. We saw this coming, and once the coronavirus came to the world everything started shutting down slowly. Obviously, we lost our Safari Rally for this year as it will run next year. Mentally, I was prepared that I wouldn't be sitting in a rally car," Karan said of his online racing passtime.
Meanwhile, the former double Champion in Division 3 and S Class is working to be the best rally driver in the country after his upgrade to R5 Ford Fiesta (Toto Moto).
"This season has been a bit better than last season. It went well obviously. But now there is no more rallying. The whole aim of the season was just to learn the new car and get some wins if we can. Next season we can look into being very consistent and winning the championship."
Fourth place behind two Evolution 10s and a VW Polo R5 on KCB Nyahururu Rally showed that Karan is moving in the right direction.
His blistering pace on the RVMSC round in March didn't just serve up great moments ahead for the former East African 85cc Motocross Champion but was a clear indication that he is ready to fight for top places against R5s and R4 Evolutions.
The Premier Class man believes he now has what it takes to steer his Fiesta to desirable heights and indeed go for the Kenyan championship title next year.
"In 2016 we did some WRC events in Europe and it was an eye opener. We realized that we needed to put in more input on our side to improve our pace and we proved that on our overall standing in the country. I'm still working to be the best rally driver in Kenya then we'll move on and see if we can do the ARC."
After his six-year working stint at Wilson Airport, Karan now moved to become the Accountable Manager in the newly established Tailwind Solutions Ltd located in Nairobi's Industrial Area.The company deals with Aerospace and Industrial Nondestructive Testing.