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Motorsport musings

September 2013 - Kisumu Rally report

kisumu rallyFinally a finish! After a season that began with such high hopes which soon turned to despair and frustration, the Kisumu Rally was such an anticlimax - the end of an emotional roller coaster for myself and Raaji, the crew of Car 4!

With this rally also being the home rally for Team Kibos it was absolutely critical that we finish the rally. After so much disappointment already in 2013 both Raaji and I were desperate just to see the finish of a rally.

Recce was good, we both felt the stages were in good condition and we were really happy, with our notes and looking forward to the rally. Because some of the top crews were missing we were seeded second on the road, behind Ian Duncan and directly ahead of championship leader Baldev Chager, with Flash Tundo 4th on the road.kisumu rally

Overnight rain made parts of the first stage a bit slippery and about 5km into the stage I thought our rally was over... We hit a patch of mud and the car snapped sideways and began slithering towards some rather large trees. Thankfully Raaji came off the brakes, the car straightened up and we carried on!

kisumu rallyA few km later, trying to be cautious, Raaji clipped a rock hidden in the mud and we immediately had a puncture. Whilst changing it Baldev flew past, but then we passed him almost as soon as we got going again, also stopped with a puncture. The next few km of the stage were up an escarpment and the car was getting pretty sideways in places. I first thought that we had another puncture but it didn't get worse... Nor did the handling improve so we had no option but to reduce our pace. 3km from the end of the stage, in a really fast and twisty section, there was suddenly a HUGE bang and the car snapped sideways! Both Raaji and I thought something had seized in the transmission, but as we were sliding sideways down the stage a black bullet streaked past us! It was Flash and Tim! Obviously they had caught us and rammed us up the rear to try and let us know they were there! Frightening stuff and it cost us quite a few minutes as we both had to get out of the car and pull the rear bumper away from the wheel arch to free the rear wheels!

Neither Raaji nor I were in the best of moods but after a chat with Flash and Tim at the start of the next stage everyone apologized and the story became more clear. Apparently they had caught us as we had begun climbing the escarpment and had even tried nudging us earlier - a big scratch on the rear of the car was the evidence - but all this did was send Flash's Evo into a ditch! As we were driving so slow due to the lack of a diff pump, they caught us again and nurfed us out of the way a second time!

We limped back to service with another cautious stage under our belts and then adjusted the setup of the car to try and improve the handling as best we could.

Stage 3 was a fantastic little 15 km super special through the cane plantations and Raaji was brilliant with the handbrake for the first time ever! We had a bit of a moment over a max jump that we had intended to go around but as we approached the side of the road was lined with cheering spectators and so we had no option but to hold tight and max the jump.... And the following one! Thankfully we got away with our antics and even from inside the car we could hear the crowd cheering us on! We probably would have won the stage but an overshoot and then a time consuming stall cost us around 15 seconds.... But at least the car was sort of handling and we were both laughing and having fun!

kisumu rallyThe rest of the day was all about improvements. Raaji adapted his driving style to suit the mis behaving Evo and we were consistently inside the top 5.... Apart from on the repeat of the escarpment stage where the lack of 4wd really hampered us.... But at least we didn't interfere in the fight for the championship by holding anyone up again!

The final stage of the rally was the repeat of the Super Special and Raaji, flamboyant as ever, was fantastic! He gave it large on the corners, big power slides everywhere, and maximum attack over the jumps, and our reward was second fastest.... A mere 1 second behind Baldev.... But I'm betting we had more fun!

kisumu rallyIt was such a relief to drive into the final control, greeted by a huge round of applause from all the gathered supporters and it really felt like we had won the rally! We might have only finished tenth in the end but we had broken our run of bad luck, Raaji had begun to drive like himself and I was pretty ok on the notes.... Hindsight is a great thing but if you remove the time lost with the puncture and other dramas in stage 1 then we would have been well inside the top 5 overall.... Not bad for a two wheel drive Evo!

kisumu rallyFor me the day just got better. ALS, who supply the medical helicopter, had a spare seat on the flight back to Nairobi and so I was able to walk from our hospitality area strait to my lift back to Nairobi. 2 hours after the finish I was back in Nairobi - a great end to a great rally!