There was plenty to celebrate for MML Sports last weekend, as Jaspreet Chatthe won the KCB Safari Rally in the MML Sports-built and run Team Kibos Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionX R4. Having finished the opening round of the Kenyan national Rally Championship in second, Chatthe went one better to become only the third Sikh driver to win the event in its illustrious history.
The Safari is perhaps one of the most famous rallies in the sport and although this year's event was 'only' three days of competition, it still provided the challenge that made the event famous.
Heavy rain in the run-up to the event meant that the conditions were extremely tricky but Chatthe and MML Sports/Team Kibos adopted a conservative strategy that saw him initially running fourth overall and gradually improve his position, thanks to a combination of pace and avoiding trouble.
By the start of the final day, he was second to former British Rally Champion and round one winner, Tapio Laukkanen. However, the Finn ripped one of the rear corners off his car in a forest stage and retired, promoting Jassi to first overall.
The event wasn't over by any stretch though. Ian Duncan was pushing hard to catch Chatthe but was unable to reel the local driver in, such was his command of the event.
By the time Chatthe and co-driver Gurdeep Panesar reached the finish ramp, they had a winning margin of 13 seconds over Duncan with Carl Tundo a further minute back. They also finished ahead of a Proton Satria Super2000 and a pair of Ford Fiesta R5s.
In addition to Chatthe winning the event, Jas Mangat, running in a Lancer EvoX converted to R4 specification - like the Team Kibos car - by MML Sports, also finished in sixth place, his second finish in as many rallies. His first was the opening round and the first rally he had finished in two seasons.
Commenting, MML Sports Managing Director John Easton said; "I am absolutely delighted that Jassi won the Safari Rally. He drove a superb event in very difficult conditions and as a result of his approach and speed, took a very well deserved win.
"The conditions were very difficult last weekend and I think that the number of crews that had problems showed how easy it was to throw the event away. The fact that Jassi's car needed just fuel and tyres throughout the event speaks volumes about his experience and the reliability of the R4 Mitsubishi EvoX.
"The pace was also very good - to finish ahead of two R5 Fiesta and a Proton S2000 shows that not only has the R4 EvoX got the strength, it also has the pace to be competitive."