Tejveer Rai and Gareth Dawe in full flight at the 2021 WRC Safari Rally Kasarani Super Special Stage on June 24, 2021.
Kenya’s Tejveer Rai and his Zimbabwean navigator Gareth Dawe were the biggest victims of the gruelling opening day of competition proper as the World Rally Championship Safari Rally lived up to its legendary billing as the world’s toughest rally.
The pair’s VW Polo R5 somersaulted on a straight in the Kedong Stage early on Friday with Rai, who finished second in the ARC Equator Rally last month, was airlifted to hospital in Nairobi and was said to be stable. Their car was extensively damaged.
Francis Mureithi | Nation Media Group
Outside rallying, Rai is the chief executive officer of West Kenya Sugar Company (Kabras Sugar).
The WRC Safari Rally’s medical team reached the victims within minutes of the incident with the help of a helicopter.
The crew was then airlifted to a Nairobi hospital with organisers yet to give details on his condition at press time.
According to clips from videos seen by Nation Sport, the duo’s car along a straight patch before it hits an elevated intersection and somersaulted several times.
Spectators were seen putting the VW Polo back on its wheels though the damage was very extensive and not safe for the crew to continue.
Rai is the current leader of the Kenya National Rally Championship ahead of his teammate Baldev Chager and younger sibling Onkar Rai.
Chager says he was forced to stop at the scene of Tej’s crash just to ensure his teammate was able to board the safety helicopter.
Chager was the first at the scene of the accident when the stage was stopped to ensure safety.
“I am just praying that he is ok and waiting for the good news to come from hospital in Nairobi. I just want to hear that my teammate is fine,” Chager said.
“Until then, it is very difficult to concentrate. I missed the last stage of the day, thus I will now rejoin the rally this morning under the Super Rally Rules where one is penalised 10 minutes plus time for the fastest car,” said Chager.
“I’m just praying that everything is okay. We are able to rally due to him and we hope everything will work out and we will be back to rallying together,” he added.
He said he got to the end of the second stage and trying to get his focus right was very difficult because they are too close.
“We have gained but we have to drive sensibly. Not too slowly but sensibly,” he added.
Toyota’s Elfyn Evans went out just 300 metres to the end of the volcanic ash soil stretch.
Evans’s car spun in the next corner and with the damage clear, he reversed the car off the road, his day over.
Spain’s Dani Sordo became the second WRC driver to exit at Kedong.
Oliver Solberg of Sweden also retired from the rally after damaging the rear end of his Hyundai Coupe 120 at the end of the fourth stage at Kedong.
He lost about six minutes in total. Kenyan driver Carl “Flash” Tundo, navigated by Timothy Jessop, steer their Volkswagen Polo WRC during the Oserian stage of the 2021 Safari Rally Kenya on June 25, 2021.
The Hyundai i20 Coupe drivers are leading the event with a time of one hour, 23 minutes and 19.1 seconds.
Belgium driver Thierry Neuville steers his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.
Belgium driver Thierry Neuville steers his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC with Belgium co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe during the SS2 stage of the 2021 Safari Rally Kenya near Kedong at Lake Naivasha, Kenya, on June 25, 2021.
Finland’s Kalle Rovanpera, led the rally briefly until his Toyota Yaris got stuck in the last stage of the day.
Finnish driver Kalle Rovanpera steers his Toyota Yaris WRC with Finnish co-driver Jonne Halttunen.
Finnish driver Kalle Rovanpera steers his Toyota Yaris WRC with Finnish co-driver Jonne Halttunen during the SS2 stage of the 2021 Safari Rally Kenya near Kedong at Lake Naivasha, Kenya, on June 25, 2021.
Tundo, the five-time winner of the Safari Rally, is placed 13th driving a VW Polo. Tundo is two places below Karan Patel’s Ford Fiesta.
Roads further north around Lake Elmenteita host Saturday’s 32.08km of action.
British driver Gus Greensmith drives his Ford Fiesta WRC with Irish co-driver Chris Patterson during the SS2 stage of the 2021 Safari Rally Kenya near Kedong at Lake Naivasha, Kenya, on June 25, 2021.
It opens with Elmenteita’s oft-used tracks in the Delamere Estate.
It is followed by Soysambu and Sleeping Warrior, set in the shadow of a hill that resembles a Masai Warrior lying down. The three stages will be done for a second time after service.
Sunday’s finale spans both the north and south sides of Lake Naivasha in Loldia and Malewa.
Swedish driver Oliver Solberg steers his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC with Irish co-driver Aaron Johnston during the SS2 stage of the 2021 Safari Rally Kenya near Kedong at Lake Naivasha, Kenya, on June 25, 2021.
The first two tests are then driven again. The second stage will see the cars pass through Hell’s Gate, then finish at the scenic Fishers Tower, which forms the Wolf Power Stage. The 18 stages total 320.19km. – nation.co.ke