Kenya: Raju Chagger - Former Driver at the Heart of Safari Rally Organisation

22 September 2020

While there are many officials mandated to run an event like the Safari Rally, the post of the Clerk of the Course is one of the most significant roles in the sport of rallying.

Forty-four-year-old Raju Chagger is a well-known official who has successfully organised motor sport events as a Clerk of the Course in events like the Guru Nanak Rally but most significantly in the world's best known marathon raid rally, the East African Safari Classic Rally.

Chagger has also been appointed as one of the Deputy Clerks of the Course for the Safari Rally, which will return to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar next year.

"The WRC Safari Rally is a completely new concept in route preparation. WRC safety standards have come a long way. Each junction has to be marked in a format dictated by WRC rules. Marking entails approach arrows, arrows on the junction, "box" taping for not only junctions, but also specific spectator / media areas. The sheer amount of officials required within a stage is phenomenal," Chaggar told Nation Sport.

Chaggar says similar duties for the Classic Rally are far different from the Safari Rally which is governed by the World Motor Sports Governing Body.

"It is by far the most challenging rally for an organizer because of the endurance element and the vast distances to achieve, as well as the number of days it runs. Each day is longer than a KNRC event, so we actually complete an entire KNRC season in one Classic Event, said Chaggar.

Chaggar added: "Logistics of laying out a challenging route is very hard, as not only is the route to be designed, we have to also avoid as much as possible highly populated areas and ensure a rally itinerary is completed in daylight hours. In the last Classic Event, we did almost 29,000km preparing, changing and looking for alternate stages, span of 9 months. For me Classic Rally is the ultimate event, not only is it a challenging event, but I have made many new friends from around the world."

Chaggar has spent multiple seasons organising rally raid championships, notably the Raid 500 which has been a three-day event covering 500km in addition to the several Guru Nanak Rallies as CofC and Deputy CofC, several Safari Rallies and the East African Safari Classic Rally.

Gurvir Bhabra is the Event Clerk of Course for the Safari Rally, under who Chaggar works as Deputy Clerk of the course.

"Kenya will perform that's for sure;. We have such a great team of officials, who want nothing more than seeing Kenya back on the World Championship Calendar. Appreciation goes to our KMSF Director and Chairman Phineas Kimathi for getting the event to where it I," said Charger.

The Clerk of the Course acts as the sport's first judicial body. The Clerk, or his Deputy, has the power to impose penalties (except in very serious cases).

The responsibilities of the Clerk of the Course are to: Ensure all regulations are complied with and that all necessary equipment is available, Maintain order in conjunction with the officials appointed with a special focus on public security, Ensure all officials are provided with the information required to carry out their duties and Ensure that appropriate officials are at their posts, and report accordingly to the Stewards of the Meeting before any event commences among many other responsibilities.

This official has overall responsibility for the general conduct and control of an event, from the opening date of entries to the time when any protests and appeals have to be dealt with.

This person must be present throughout practice and the entire competition. He as to advise the Stewards of the meeting of any proposal to modify the programme and Collect the reports of the Timekeepers, Scrutineers, Technical Commissioners, Pit Observers, Driving Standards Observers and Judges of Fact, together with any other official information affecting the results.

Prior to entering the competition as an official, Chagger rallied as a driver and navigator in his hey days. He started navigating in 2012 for various drivers, with Onkar Rai being at the highest list of drivers.

His fondest memories are with Frank Tundo finishing as high as fourth overall in one Nakuru Rally. His most memorable event is with Francis Tuthill in a VW beetle competing in the top fry classic rally before he stopped navigating after a near fatal accident in the 2014 Safari Rally.

His most memorable cars win which he has competed is Subaru, Mitsubishi, Rally Raid vehicles and Classic cars. His most commendable result was third overall with Onkar Rai, on his first rally together in the Mombasa event.

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