10 past African Rally Championship (ARC) winners

By , K24 Digital
On Mon, 4 Dec, 2023 07:00 | 4 mins read
10 past African Rally Championship (ARC) winners
Kenyan rally driver Karan Patel and co-driver Tauseef Khan. PHOTO/Red Bull Website

From the roar of engines to the cheers of spectators, the ARC has witnessed moments of triumph and glory that have etched themselves into the memories of motorsport enthusiasts.

Here are some of the unforgettable stories of champions who conquered challenging terrains.

1. Karan Patel & Tauseef Khan (2023)

Kenyan driver Karan Patel and co-driver Tauseef Khan claimed their first-ever FIA African Rally Championship titles with a podium finish in Iringa, Tanzania. They became the first Kenyan pair to achieve this feat in a Ford, marking the marque’s second title after Zambia’s Leroy Gomes last year. Karan finished second behind Uganda’s Jas Mangat, showcasing a well-driven race strategy during the ASAS Rally of Tanzania. Karan, also a Red Bull athlete, became the seventh Kenyan driver after trailblazing Shekhar Mehta in 1981, David Horsey in 1984, Jaspreet Singh Chatthe in 2015, Don Smith in 2016, Manvir Baryan thrice in 2017 and 2019, and Carl Tundo in 2021. Meanwhile, Tauseef became the fifth Kenyan navigator champion after Mike Doughty, Surinder Thatthi, Bob Kaugi, and Tim Jessop.

2. Leroy Gomes & Urshlla Gomes (2022)

Zambia’s Leroy and Urshlla Gomes sealed the 2022 Africa Rally Championship title by winning the final round at home in Zambia. The racing couple secured a second-place finish in the weekend Zambia International Rally, clinching the coveted title. They entered the ARC season finale with a 21-point advantage over their rival Karan Patel from Kenya, needing only ten points from the event.

3. Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo & Tim Jessop (2021)

Nakuru farmer and five-time Safari Rally champion Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo was crowned the winner of the ARC Equator Rally Africa race held in Naivasha sub-county. Navigated by Tim Jessop and driving a new Minti Motorsports Volkswagen Polo, Tundo grabbed the fastest run of 2:34:8. Tejveer Rai of Kabras Sugar Racing Team, navigated by Gareth Dawe driving a Volkswagen Polo, clocked 2:46:17 to secure second place. The third podium position went to Ugandan Jas Mangat navigated by Kamya Joseph after clocking 03:03:32.1. Tundo emerged victorious in nine stations while another Nakuru local, Onkar Rai, won two stations on the final day.

4. Manvir Baryan & Drew Sturrock (2017-2019)

The Kenyan duo eased their pursuit of a third Africa Rally Championship title with an impressive victory in the third round of the ARC in Zambia. Despite predictions of a tight race from all crews, the Skoda Fabia R5 driver dominated, topping six of the eleven leg-one stages to lead the event by 29 seconds going into the final day. The crew further asserted their ambitions by not only maintaining their lead but also widening the gap with an additional four stage wins en route to victory.

5. Don Smith & Bob Kaugi (2016)

The all-Kenyan crew of Don Smith and Bob Kaugi savoured clinching their maiden FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) title in 2016 as the Pearl of Uganda concluded in Kampala. Don and Bob, also the 2012 Kenya National Rally Division Two champions, secured the drivers and navigators championship titles after finishing seventh overall in the season-closing Ugandan round. The Kenyan crew only needed to finish the Pearl Rally, and their celebrations began earlier when Zambian Muna Singh Junior retired with a leaking fuel tank. The duo took over the continental glory from Jassi Chatthe of Kenya and Craig Thorlay of Britain, who won in 2015 in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.

6. Jaspreet Singh Chatthe & Craig Thorley (2015)

Kenyan Jaspreet Chatthe ‘Jassi’ and UK champion navigator Craig Thorley emerged winners of the ARC Zambia International Rally in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 10. Having taken the lead on SS3, Chatthe, also leading the 2015 Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) at the time, never looked back and won the African Rally Championship round three events by a 4-minute 14-second margin from Zambian Jassy Singh and Sajid Khan in a Subaru Impreza N16. Chatthe’s performance in both the KNRC and ARC exceeded the expectations of countless spectators at home and overseas.

7. Gary Chaynes & Romain Comas (2014)

Cote d’Ivoire’s rally crew of Gary Chaynes and Romain Comas took an early lead in the 2014 Africa Rally Championship (ARC) race after winning the Rallye Bandama Cote D’Ivoire. The crew, finishing second after day two, came back fighting on the final day and won ahead of morning leader Morifere Soumaoro and Philipe Garcia by only 33.5 seconds, placing them at the top of the ARC standings with 25 points. Chaynes completed the 250 km race in 2:12:31.3 while Soumaoro clocked 2:13:04.8. Rwanda’s Giancarlo Davite finished 8th in the race, clocking 2:30:16.2, comfortably placing third on the ARC standings with 15 points.

8. Jassy Singh & David Sihoka (2013)

Securing the 12th title for Zambia, Jassy became the youngest champion in the history of ARC. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Muna, a two-time ARC champion, and his uncle, Satwant, who held eight titles. With the victory, Jassy joined a host of other top motor rally drivers from the Southern African region who have won the ARC title, including Zimbabwe’s Abe Smit, Jamie Whyte, and Conrad Rautenbach.

9. Mohamed Essa & Greg Stead (2012)

Zambia’s Mohammed Essa and his co-driver scooped the drama-packed Puma Energy Zambia International Rally to open up a 27-point lead in the eight-legged FIA African Rally Championship (ARC). At 22 years old, Essa, who started the day two minutes 39 seconds down in second position, took the laurels in the very opening stage of the day, SS12, when overnight leader Giancarlo Davite of Rwanda retired his Subaru Impreza N11 due to a drive shaft issue. Essa timed two hours 55 minutes five seconds in his Prodrive-built Madison/Puma Energy Subaru N12B, winning his maiden Zambia International Rally on his sixth outing in this annual rally.

10. Conrad Rautenbach & Nicolas Klinger (2011)

Conrad Rautenbach, a rally driver from Zimbabwe, won the African Rally Championship twice, in 2007 and 2011. Due to a lack of funding in 2010, Rautenbach only competed in the South African National Rally Championship with a Ford Fiesta S2000. He returned to the African championship in 2011, winning it for the second time. His father, Billy Rautenbach, is also a former rally driver.

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