Reigning African champion Manvir Baryan and five-time Safari winner Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo are among six Kenyans headed for the Gomes Zambia International Rally slated for June 7-9 in Ndola, Copperbelt Province.
Baldev Chager, who is the lead driver at Kabras Sugar Racing, has also signed up and will be leading his other teammates Onkar and Tejveer Rai in the Zambian round of the FIA African Rally Championship (ARC).
Also in the mix for the Zambia tour is fast-rising Eric Bengi, who will be driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. The event will count towards the third round of the continental series after Bandama Rallye of Ivory Coast in February and the York Rally of South Africa (formerly Sasol Rally) in April.
Other rounds of the ARC series will be the Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally in October, Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally in August, Rally of Tanzania in September and Safari Rally in Kenya on the first week of July. The 2019-Safari Rally will be run as a candidate event for the World Rally Championship (WRC).
Organisers of Safari, also a round of the eight-leg KCB Kenya National Rally Championship, hope to bring the event back to the global arena by 2020.
Manvir, who emerged winner in Ivory Coast and second in South Africa, leads the continental series and will for the first time renew rivalry with compatriots beyond the borders.
Kenyan drivers will face stiff opposition from Zambian speedsters among them former African Champions Jassy Singh and Mohammed Essa, ARC contender Leroy Gomes and Jassy’s sibling Muna Singh Jnr. The Zambian Singhs are siblings of legendary multiple African Champion Muna Singh.
Meanwhile, excitement has gripped Zambian rally fans following the entry by several Kenyans. The influx of supercars on the continental arena will add some flavour to the African competition that has been dominated by Zambians for many years.
Zambia will for the first time feature a record three R5 cars with Onkar’s and Manvir’s Skoda R5s and the Ford Fiesta of Leroy Gomes which finished third in South Africa recently.
“This entry list is amazing. I hope it comes true. We really want to see Carl Tundo and Baldev Chager on Zambian soil,” Choolwe Chikwiba wrote on the Zambian Rally Fans WhatsApp group.
Another fan said: “It is very sad that people like Essa, Muna have dinosaurs for rally machines! As a result, they will just be there to watch or to escort Leroy and Guy as they face the Kenyans! Those are the only two who have cars that can enable them to enjoy putting up some fight against Kenyan crack rally drivers!”
Another fan bantered: “If Barcelona can be given some good slaps in football what can stop our very own Subarus to whack those believed to be big guns in Twapia Ndola. Watch the space.,”