Champion Baldev Chager sees great potential with VW R5 ahead of Machakos Rally

Thursday, August 26th, 2021 00:00 |
Baldev Chager raises dust as he tested the VW Polo R5 last week. Photo/PD/EDWIN OTIENO

Edwin Otieno

Defending Champion Baldev Chager says he can see potential in the VW Polo R5 after testing the car he will drive for the second time on KCB Machakos Rally this Sunday.

The “Flying Singh”, who has previously sat on Group N and R4 Mitsubishi EvolutionX cars, drove the VW Polo R5 on a gravel performance test and sounded quite enthusiastic about it.

He says the test drive was key to assessing which areas of the car needed immediate focus.after his initial run on Voi Rally which culminated into second overall position behind winner Karan Patel.

“We had a bit of a test last weekend, did a few kilometers and I feel I’m getting a bit settled with the car compared to how we were in Voi when we first drove it.

So let’s see how the route is in Machakos and we will take it from there. After the recce on Saturday, we will see how best we will perfect our pace-notes, so we will take it as it comes,” naratted Chager, who will be partnering up with his longstanding Championship winning co-driver Ravi Soni.

The multiple Kenya and Safari champion termed his “fast and furious” test activity “an interesting challenge” adding that there’s still amazing potential with the car previously driven by the Kabras Sugar Racing ace and teammate Onkar Rai.

It’s hardly a month since he first piloted the VW Polo R5, but Chager is already savoring the great racing experience in the contraption Onkar powered to WRC3 victory during the Safari on June 27.

But Chager goes on to explain that anything new takes some time to get used to.

“Even the EVOX, as many years as we have driven it, there is always a little bit more we can always find in it.

So with the Polo project being a fresh start, it’s going to be some time before we are closer to 90 percent of the car’s potential.

Right now we are just driving it to 50 or 60 percent of it’s potential,” Chager said.

The Polo is a custom-made rally car as much as it looks like a normal car, but in itself, everything is really customised, as Chager would put it.

The R4 Evolution X which he has previously driven is a production car with lots of standard suspension parts whereby the travel and gear ratios and the engine are all very production- based.

Chager continued: “So getting used to the Polo, how it takes the rough, how it accelerates and how it brakes; the characteristics of this car are completely different.

It’s just a matter of getting used to it, but then again it’s much easier to drive- to be honest and also very aggressive so there is a technique that we are still trying to perfect.”

Talking of the weekend’s Kenya Motor Sports Club (KMSC) round, Chager added: “We are returning to Lisa Farm where we have had good and bad rallies too.

We have won, and had an engine blow out in one of the rallies there. We also had one which was really wet and we’re first on the road.”

Chager’s title defense this season has entailed some ups and downs but the leading Sikh driver in the country is determined to soldier on.

“First rally in Nakuru we won. The second one which was the ARC Equator Rally, we didn’t do too well.

We actually broke down on Day One but under the “Super Rally” rule we restarted on the last day and salvaged some KNRC points in the process. 

More on Sports