Spectators banned from Voi rally over escalating coronavirus infections

Thursday, August 5th, 2021 00:00 |
Driver Hussein Malik powers his Mitsubishi Evo 10 at the Kedong Stage during the WRC Safari Rally on June 25. Photo/PD/EDWIN OTIENO

Edwin Otieno

Spectators will be barred from this weekend’s Voi Rally due to escalating cases of Covid-19.

On Monday, the Ministry of Health announced that 591 people tested positive for conronavirus from a sample of 4,737 tested.

The positivity rate in the country is now 12 per cent with total confirmed positive cases of 204,271 and cumulative fatalities totaling 3,970.

Kenya Motor Sport Federation (KMSF) General Manager Mwaura Njuguna said the event organised by the Sikh Union will be run in accordance with World Governing Body (FIA) guidelines as well as Ministry of Health (MOH) protocols.

However, event officials, team crews, mechanics and media personalities will be allowed to operate within their work stations in line with stringent pandemic measures including social distancing and mask wearing.

There will be a Covid officer to oversee the adherence of coronavirus protocols.

“In line with the Government of Kenya and FIA Covid-19 guidelines, organizers will not allow spectators in the Voi Rally to discourage social gathering,” said KMSF General Manager Mwaura Njuguna.

Over 20 drivers have signed up for the event which will revolve around Taita Taveta County.

The event will revisit some of Kenya’s iconic stages around Taita Hills, Kasigau and Maungu; running through a sisal estate and private ranches.

Deputy Clerk of the Course, Qahir Rahim, says the event will provide different challenges for competitors with varied terrains taking in smooth fast roads, rocky outcrops, the deep red sand baths of Tsavo and the short  blasts through the parched bushland that may well prove very testing for heated tyres.

Series leader Onkar Rai and his elder sibling Tejveer Rai will be the notable absentees in the event which will start and end at the Voi Wildlife Lodge.

Tejveer is still recuperating from the accident he encountered on day one of Safari.

In the absence of the Rais, there is a chance by Carl “Flash” Tundo and Baldev Chager to surpass Onkar’s massive lead.

Rai currently leads the KNRC log with 73 points followed by Tundo (56 points) and Chager (54 points) while Tejveer and Jasmeet Chana are fourth and fifth with 49 points and 43 points respectively to their names.

As for Onkar, the racing fraternity will miss the antics that saw him win Safari’s WRC3 category in Naivasha last month.

Saturday’s event will count towards the fourth leg of the KCB Kenya National Rally Championships (KNRC) after the season’s opening Nakuru Rally, Equator Rally and WRC Safari.

Battle royale looms in Division 1 where joint leaders Paras Pandya and Nikhil Sachania will go for each other’s jugular. McRae Kimathi and Dilraj Chatthe are a distant third on 30 points apiece.

Group N action will involve Premier Class driver in Jasmeet Chana (78 points), Paras (47 points), Evans Kavisi (34 points) and Hamza Anwar (30 points).

Legendary Ian Duncan tops the Specially Prepared Vehicles (SPV) class with 30 points ahead of Nikhil on 44. Duncan has nevertheless entered a Minti Motorsports Nissan 240.

RS The repeat run of Izera Ranch stage (5.45km) will be the Power Stage where the top three fastest drivers will earn bonus points in the championship.

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