The opening leg of the 2021 African Rally Champion (ARC) zooms off in the rough terrains of Naivasha Friday.
Conspicuously missing in action in the adrenaline filled event is the reigning continental champion Manvir Baryan whose pace-notes have always been called out by his longtime friend Drew Sturrock.
Baryan is a triple African winner with his latest trophy bagged in 2019 before the event was put on hold due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.
The 39-year old father of one had set his sights on the Kenya National Rally Championships (KNRC) after his three continental victories, winning the fourth leg of the KNRC in Kilifi, Coast Region, in August 2019.
But his good run came to a halt after he rolled six times in the KNRC Meru leg that year.
The accident gave Baldev Chager of Kabras Sugar racing the advantage in the series which the latter went on to bag with ease as Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo of Minti Motorsport came in second.
The accident was a big blow to his Multiple Racing Team because it saw his Skoda Fabia R5 machine, christened ‘the rat’ that had always led him from gun to tape, written off.
Baryan is the fourth Kenyan to lay his hands on the African title after Shektar Mehta and David Horsey in the 1980s and Jaspreet Chatthe in 2015.
Baryan made history in 2018 as the first ever non-south African to win an ARC leg in Nelspruit.
Kenya Motor Sports Federation is yet to comment on the whereabouts of the speed merchant whose daredevil rallying was a sure bet for the country in the Equator event.
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The latest Equator Rally Entry List (with Door Numbers in brackets)
1. (7) Eric Bengi/Peter Mutuma (Mitsubishi Evolution 10 RC2-NR4)
2. (6) Tejveer Rai/Gareth Dawe (Volkswagen Polo RC2-R5)
3. (5) Ian Duncan/Tej Sehmi (Nissan 240RS NAT-Classic)
4. (3) Carl Tundo/Tim Jessop (VW Polo R5)
5. (2) Onkar Rai/Drew Sturrock (Volkswagen Polo RC2-R5)
6. (1) Baldev Chager/Ravi Soni (Mitsubishi Evolution 10 RC2-R4)
7. (8) Karan Patel/Tauseef Khan (Ford Fiesta RC2-R5)
9. (9) Jasmeet Chana/Ravi Chana (Mitsubishi Evolution 10 RC2)
10. (10) Issa Amwari/Job Njiru (Mitsubishi Evolution 10 RC2-R4)
11. (201) Amaanraj Rai/Oslaj Viljem (Ford Fiesta RC2-R5)
12. (202) Giancarlo Davite/Sylvia Vindevogel (Mitsubishi Evolution 10 RC2-NR4)
13. (203) Pratul Ghose/Imran Khan (Volkswagen Polo RC2-R5)
14. (200) Rajiv Ruparelia/Enoch Olinga (Volkswagen Polo/Proto NAT-SPV)
15. Yasser Nasser/Ali Katumba/ (Subaru Impreza RC2-NR4)
16. (208) Duncan Mubiru/Musa Nsubuga (Subaru Impreza RC2-NR4)
17. (206) Kepher Walubi/Muhamadi Asuman (Mitsubishi Evolution 10 RC2-NR4)
18. (19) John Ng’ang’a/Edward Ndukui (Subaru Impreza NAT-S)
19. (20) Nikhil Sachania/Deep Patel (Mitsubishi Evolution 10)
20. (23) Aakif Virani/Azhar Bhatti (Skoda Fabia RC2-R5)
21. (55) Piero Canobbio/TBA (Mitsubishi Evolution 10 RC2-R4)
22. (207) Hassan Alwi/James Mwangi (Subaru Impreza RC2-NR4)
23. (24) Mcrae Kimathi/Shameer Yusuf (Subaru Impreza RC2-NR4)
24. (25) Steve Mwangi/Dennis Mwenda (Subaru Impreza RC2-NR4)
25. (210) Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle (Toyota Etios RC2-R5)
26. (209) Christakis Fitidis/Eric Nzamwita (Mitsubishi Evolution 10 RC2-NR4)
27. (26) Hussein Malik/Linet Ayuko (Mitsubishi Evolution 10 RC2-N4)
28. (32) Evans Kavisi/Absolom Aswani (Mitsubishi Evolution 10 RC2-NR4)
29. (205) Ronald Sebuguzi/Anthony Mugambwa (Mitsubishi Evolution 10 RC2-NR4)
30. (39) Nzioka Waita/Tuta Mionki (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO10)
31. (36) Kailesh Chauhan/Tariq Malik (Ford Escort RS NAT-Classic)
32. (22) Edward Maina/John Ngugi (Subaru Impreza NAT-S)
33. (34) Daren Miranda/Wayne Fernandes (Subaru Impreza)
34. (211) Geoff Mayes/Suzanne Zqagwe (Land Rover)