Team Kibos and MML Sports, the UK-based motorsport and automotive specialist, extended their lead in the Kenyan national Rally Championship this weekend, as Jassi Chatthe finished the Eldoret Rally in fifth place. The team is now playing a strategic game, driving for finishes and crucially, Chatthe finished ahead of Ian Duncan, his nearest rival, to extend his advantage in the series.
This year, the KnRC has become incredibly competitive, with around six drivers capable of winning any round, including Chatthe, Duncan, Carl Tundo and former British Rally Champion, Tapio Laukkanen.
However, a series of wins for Chatthe in the MML Sports-prepared Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionX R4 car has meant that now, with three rounds left to run, the team is concentrating on recording finishes to give it the best chance of claiming the 2015 title. It is also in a similar position with the FIA African Rally Championship, which it leads with three rounds to go.
On the Eldoret Rally, Chatthe drove a considered event, concentrating on firstly finishing and secondly, completing ahead of main title rival, Duncan. As it transpired, Duncan retired from the event early on and Chatthe then had to complete the event with a finish as the goal, rather than a position.
This can prove difficult for any driver, having to manage a pace that is much lower than their natural one but Chatthe and co-driver Gurdeep Panasar did just that, arriving at the finish of the event in fifth place but crucially, extending their lead in the overall standings to almost 40 points with three rounds to go.
Even more pleasing for MML Sports though was Jas Mangat's excellent third place, the Ugandan driver clearly relishing his newly-reliable R4 EvolutionX, converted and prepared by MML Sports. He admits that now he no longer has to worry about the car actually finishing an event, he can concentrate on developing his speed and performance and third on the Eldoret event is testament to this.
Commenting, MML Sports Managing Director John Easton said; "I'm very pleased with how this weekend went. Some might feel that fifth isn't a particularly good result but it is exactly what we needed to stand the best chance of wrapping-up the 2015 KnRC title.
"We told Jassi at the start of the event that we just needed a top five finish, as the points would strengthen our position in the championship. Once Ian retired, then this was even more relevant, as we're into the strategic aspect of the series now.
"It is always incredibly difficult for a natural driver like Jassi to target anything other than the win. However, we know he is more than capable of winning but running at that pace brings with it risks, which we don't need to take. He and Gurdeep drove a superb event to bring the car home - undamaged - in fifth and stretch the lead even further.
"I am also delighted for Jas, who claimed his best result for several years. The result of getting his car reliable and fast is plain to see. He told me he no longer worries about what is going to break or listening for problems and can just drive the car as fast as he feels comfortable. To get a podium in his first season in a well-prepared car is great to see and I'm sure there will be more before the end of the year."
Team Kibos now travels to Rwanda for the next round of the ARC at the end of July before returning to the KnRC for the first weekend of August.