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Herders, rustlers, torrential rains thicken plot in hectic season, and it's not over yet.

By ABDUL SIDIThe 2017 Kenya National Rally Championship is yet to be completed with the final rally due in January 2018.The National Championship, which ran without a major title sponsor after KCB withdrew its support at the end of the 2016 season, had some, challenges even as it was well attended with quality cars and drivers.Phineas Kimathi, the Chairman of the Kenya Motor Sports Federation (KMSF) sounded optimistic when asked about a title sponsor for the 2018 KNRC season.

''We are working with KCB to come back and sponsor the 2018 KNRC series. Though, they are involved with the Autocross Championship since stepping aside in 2016, the chances of them returning to the main championship are very high,'' said Kimathi.

Kimathi added: "We are also thankful to the other sponsors, who had stepped in this season to help particular rallies. Bamburi Cement, Kibos Sugar, Menengai Oil, Fly540 and Multiple Haulers were among the leading sponsors, who helped events to run smoothly.

''LONGEST RUNNING SERIESKCB supported the KNRC series for nearly 15 years before it ceased to be the title sponsor for one of the longest running series in the region at the end of the 2016 season.Two of the eight rounds of the 2017 KNRC were affected badly due to the poor weather and invasion of the stages by the local herdsmen respectively.

The Nanyuki Rally was cancelled because of cattle rustlers, who had threatened to sabotage the event, while the Kenya Motor Sports Club Rally was postponed because of heavy rains.The KMSC's Fly540-sponsored event will now be run in January, a move that is seen as historic as no event has ever been pushed from one season to the next.

Manvir Baryan, who mixed his season, participating in both the 2017 Kenya National Rally Championship and the African Rally Championship events, succeeded in securing the ARC crown in his Skoda Fabia by winning four out of the six rounds of the Continental series.Ian Duncan, the veteran Safari Rally Champion and multiple holder of the KNRC crown, showed his old form by staying at the top of the current national series and well on the way to win the championship come January.

The Mitsubishi Lancer driver finished all the six events to stay top of the table with 108 points.His rivals for the 2017 KNRC title included former holders of the crown, Carl Tundo and Baldev Chager respectively.

NATION MEDIA GROUP Finland's Tapio Laukkanen, the 2016 National Champion had a bad season failing to contest one rally and not finishing two events after winning the Safari Rally in his Subaru Impreza.Onkar Rai won his first ever rally when he secured victory in his home round of the Rift Valley Motorsports Sports Club event behind the wheels of a Skoda Fabia.

Karan Patel, who saw action in European Rallies as part of his learning process, won the Division One title.His navigator James Mwangi clinched the Division Navigators Crown.

FINAL ROUNDSBoth Patel and Duncan need to fight it out in the final round to determine who wins the Group N title.Leonardo Varese and Kigondu Kariethi clinched both the respective National Formula Two and KNRC Division Two championship titles in their Toyota.

Each of the top four different drivers stand the chance of winning the Division Three crown depending on their final performance in the KMSF Rally in January.They include Nadeem Kana, Manmeet Puee, Steffano Rocca and Hussein Malik.

Jonathan Somen, who did creditably well in the 2017 Classic Rally, is the KNRC Classic Champion at the wheels of his Ford Escort.The Classic Rally 2017 ended in controversial fashion after two drivers were declared joint winners of the famous world marathon race.

Kenya's Carl Tundo and Richard Jackson of England made history in the 2017 East African Safari Classic Safari after the organizers declared the two drivers as the double winners.FATAL ACCIDENTTragedy hit the rally when on of its directors JS Vohra died in a fatal accident while out watching the action on the penultimate day of the competition.

.On administrative matters, the national motor sports governing body extended Supi Soin's tenure for another term as the Chairman of Rallies Commission.

The 2017 FIA General Elections also saw Kenya's Surinder Thatthi retain his post as one of the seven vice-presidents of the world motor sports governing body and also as chairman of the Confederation of African Motor Sports (CAMS).

Jean Todt retained his post as the president of FIA.The Safari Rally, which lost its World Rally status in 2002, is on course to return to the world series if Kenya Motor Sports Federation continues with its efforts.

WRC CALENDARKMSF officials have joined hands with the Government to campaign for the return of the Safari Rally as part of the World Rally Championship calendar.Thee latest round of the 2017 KNRC in Nakuru, saw a new timing system that was long overdue.

The new timing system was used in the Nakuru Rally and saw the immediate release of the results of the cars as their wheels rolled over the finish line of each stage.The development proved beyond doubt that the new timing technology is something that will benefit immensely, not only to clubs that organize rallies, but also to the rest of the motor sports fraternity and KNRC series.

Motor Sports Calendars - 2018 KNRC: February 17-18- KNRC 1- RVMSC, March 17-18-KNRC 2- Safari Rally, May 5-6: KNRC 3 - KMSC Rally, June 9-10-KNRC 4 - RSC Rally, July 7-8 - KNRC 5 Eldoret Rally - WKMC, August 11-12: KNRC 6 - MMC Mombasa Rally, September 8-9, KNRC 7- NRG Nanyuki Rally, November 17-18: KNRC 8 - Guru Nanak Rally - Sikh Union Club Nairobi.2018 ARC: February 24-25: ARC1- Bandama Rally CIV, March 17-18: ARC 2 - Safari Rally Kenya, April 21-22: ARC 3 - Rally of South Africa, June 23-24: ARC 4 - Zambia Rally, July 21-22: ARC5 - Uganda Rally, August 25-26: ARC 6 - Tanzania Rally, September 22-23: ARC7 - Rwanda Rally.
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Publication:Daily Nation, Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya)
Geographic Code:6KENY
Date:Dec 31, 2017
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