Kenyans’ celebrations, however, were put on the back burner as COVID-19 halted its staging in July with KNRC season also put off.
When the International Automobile Federation (FIA) announced the return of Kenya’s Safari Rally to their Calendar of 2020 events, it was met with great celebration.
Its confirmation by President Uhuru Kenyatta came with great optimism until the Coronavirus pandemic struck to change the dimension of all global sporting events that witnessed its postponed from July 2020 to June 24-27 next year.
Also postponed by Kenya Motor Sport Federation were a number of KCB Kenya National Rally Championships across the country.
Only two events; Guru Nanak and Nyahururu Rally had taken place when all sporting activities were halted in March. Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo was the Guru Nanak winner while Baldev Chager scooped the Nyahururu Rally title on his 45th birthday.
Tundo took an early lead on KNRC log after the Guru Nanak victory staged at Stoni Athi Resort.
Navigated by Tim Jessop in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 10, Tundo beat defending champion Baldev Chager by a massive 3.15.4 minutes.
Tundo had his campaign effectively sewn up when Chager suffered puncture in the second loop of the grassy course.
Chager had led the rally by four seconds against Tundo in the last stages until he hit a rock and stopped to fix a puncture.
Onkar Rai, in a VW Polo R5, wrapped up the podium dash, beating veteran Ian Duncan to fourth in his SPV Nissan Pickup navigated by Tej Sehmi.
After two rounds of brilliant displays, Chager had moved to the summit of the KNRC log on 56 points against Tundo’s 52.
The 2020 season also saw the emergence of young drivers like Karan Patel and Tejveer Rai whose blistering pace handed the big boys some scary moments.
The introduction of a Power Stage in the National Competition Rules (NCRs) added the much-needed zest to the season, enhancing competition while giving spectators and crews a true racing experience.
Power stages have been synonymous with World Rally Championship (WRC) events – usually ran on the final stages.
It earns additional points for the top five crews through the stage regardless of where they are classified in a rally.
Locally, power stages have been few and far between and devoid of bonus points.
According to the local regulations, points for the power stage are only scored in the overall KNRC Class with the fastest crew taking three points, second fastest two points and third fastest one point.
In October, the FIA and the government unveiled an ambitious plan to plant 18 million trees in the next three years at different Safari Rally routes in Kenya as part of the event’s legacy project.
CS Amina Mohamed said the tree planting exercise is to commemorate Kenya’s 18-year absence from the World Rally Championship calendar.
The project will target parts of our wetlands affected by deforestation, traditional Safari Rally and Kenya Motor Sports Federation routes, the service park and the spectator stage at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.