•Carl Tundo thrived in muddy and rainy conditions to clinch the ARC Equator Rally over the weekend in Naivasha
•Driving the Minti Motorsports VW Polo R5 for the first time, Tundo has set sights on the WRC Safari Rally in June
•Onkar Rai finished second, ahead of South African Guy Botterill
After dominating the African Rally Championships (ARC) Equator Rally over the weekend in Naivasha, Carl 'Flash' Tundo now shifts his focus to the Safari Rally in June at the same venue.
Tundo, who defied torrential rains and muddy terrain to secure his maiden title, believes he would have performed better were it not for the tough competition from second-placed Onkar Rai.
“I am happy to win the ARC event. It felt good leading Day One and if it was not for Onkar Rai, I would have had a clean of all the 11 stages. The volcanic ash soil in Kedong gave us a little more grip so it was actually a really nice stage. I drove the last loop like a granny as I had a healthy lead and didn’t want to risk anything. The essence was to just get the car back in one piece,” Tundo said.
On his very first outing with the Minti Motorsports VW Polo R5, the five-time Safari Rally winner led the Kenyan round of the continental series from start to finish.
Having won six out of 11 stages, Tundo was full of praise for his rally car, which he will be using for the WRC Safari Rally in June.
“The new car is fantastic and I was able to adapt to new conditions fast. It's always good to know the roads and know what we have to tackle. But obviously, WRC guys are in a different league, so we’ll just be fighting among ourselves at the back,” he said.
Tundo’s prowess in the wet and slippery roads of Leg One’s Soysambu and Naivasha on Sunday earned him a massive 12:08.6 minutes margin victory over compatriot Tejveer Rai (VW Polo R5) as South African Guy Botterill (Toyota Etios R5) sealed the podium dash in 03:03:25.
His calm and assured match to last Parc Ferme belied the excitement that was bubbling underneath, and it exploded in a solid stream of joy on the podium.
South Africa’s Botterill extended his lead on the ARC log with 50 points but admitted that his Toyota R5 car took quite a beating.
“We were struggling quite a bit on Leg 2, owing to overheating again on the long Kedong stage. It was a really tough stage for us. We had to be cautious as no one wanted to risk pushing. We just needed to score points without any damage. The WRC is going to be very long and hard," Botterill said.
Tundo savoured back-to-back fastest times on Malewa and Loldia to extend his lead to 10:10.3 minutes after the 53.72km three-stage loop. Onkar was fastest through the Kedong stage.
Tundo, who is known to be the master of muddy conditions, had dominated Saturday’s Soysambu leg, where he claimed the day’s six stages to build a massive 07:15.1minutes lead over compatriot Tejveer Rai.
The energy-sapping event claimed the scalps of Rai, Baldev Chager and Ian Duncan on the first day but rejoined Leg 2 on the ‘Super Rally’ rule, which allows competitors to restart with penalties of each stage missed.