Former Britain and Finland champion Tapio Laukkanen claimed his third straight Kenya National Rally Championship victory in Eldoret on Saturday after leading from the third to last stage.
The Flying Finn jointly led the opening Sergoit stage of the Raiply Eldoret Rally with Jassi Chatthe but lost the lead to the latter on the first run of the spectator stage at Chemweno Farm.
Fears of a cliffhanger however everporated soon enough when Tapio bounced back to beat Chatthe by 1:08 minutes on the long 33km Chebiemit stage.
Tapio racked up his maiden victory in Eldoret in the 2015 edition at the world famous Flourspar- Nyaru and repeated the feat twice in Moiben area in 2016 and 2017.
This was Tapio’s second win of the season after retiring from the season opening Mombasa Cement Rally and clinching his maiden ARC Safari Rally in Naivasha and Nakuru.
As Tapio kept increasing the lead, Chatthe, Baldev Chager and Carl Tundo were having a big scrap.
Chatthe settled for second place as Baldev Chager sealed the podium dash.
Carl Tundo took fourth position with Manvir fifth.
Tapio’s navigator Gavin Laurence was elated.
“It is a great feeling not only winning but keeping up with the pace with one of the quickest drivers I have ever navigated. Yes, quite a great feeling.”
Among the casualties in the Western Kenya Motor Club organized rally were Tejveer Rai with fuel pump problems and Eric Bengi who was time barred.
Karan Patel and Ian Duncan dropped time after picking up punctures.
Twenty cars were flagged off by Philip Varghese, Director Raiply.
First out was Chatthe, then Ian and Mombasa Rally winner Manvir.
Competitors covered 7 competitive stages around Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties during the day. The spectator sage at Chemweno Farm was run twice.
The rally ended at Chemweno Farm with prize giving.
Despite rain scares, the route course turned out to be dry and dusty. The rally was sponsored by Raiply and cosponsored by KCB, Liquid Telecommunication and Red Bull.
1. Tapio Laukkanen/Gavin Laurence (Subaru GVB) 01:22:28
2. Jassi Chatthe/Gugu Panesar (Mitsubishi Evolution X) 01:25:40
3. Baldev Chager/ Ravi Soni (Mitsubishi Evolution X) 01:25.55:
4. Carl Tundo/ Tim Jessop (Mitsubishi Evolution X) 01:26.15
5. Manvir Baryan/ Drew Sturrock (Skoda Fabia R5) 01:26:43
6. Onkar Rai (Skoda Fabia R5) 01:27:19
7. Karan Patel (Mitsubishi Evolution X) 01:28.01
8. Amaanraj Rai 01:30.41
Farhaaz Khan (Mitsubishi Evolution X) 01:10:55:0
9. Ian Duncan/ Amaar Slatch (Mitsubishi Evolution X) 01:30.46
10. Farhaaz Khan/ Keith Henrie (Mitsubishi Evolution X) 01:31.16