GRAND RETURN

Rathod set to make comeback in WRC Safari

Tow-time East African Safari Classic champion will tackle the Kenyan round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.

In Summary

• Minesh is yet to name his navigator for the iconic event but is listed in the National Category alongside the likes of Giancarlo Davite of Rwanda, Nikhil Sachania, Issa Amwari and Evans Kavisi among others.

• Minesh has over the years had a penchant for  the iconic old Safari routes. He has  already ruffled feathers on four East African Safari Classic events in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011.

Minesh Rathod prepares his Evo X car in readiness for the safari rally
Minesh Rathod prepares his Evo X car in readiness for the safari rally
Image: HANDOUT

2019 Kenya National Rally Championship Division Two contender Minesh Rathod is set to return from a one-year sabbatical to contest the WRC Safari Rally set for next week in Naivasha.

The two-times East African Safari Classic Class champion and a father to former motocross riders Sukhdev and Abishek, will tackle the Kenyan round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) in  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.

Rathod is yet to name his navigator for the iconic event set for June 23-26 but is listed in the national category alongside the likes of Nikhil Sachania, Issa Amwari, Evans Kavisi, and Giancarlo Davite(Rwanda) among others.

Rathod has over the years had a penchant for the iconic old Safari routes. He has already ruffled feathers in four East African Safari Classic events thus 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011. Rathod is excited as crews brace up for the challenging volcanic ash soil experience in the world-famous Naivasha terrain.

In 2005, he drove an ex-Davinder Colt Lancer with Peter Stone but rolled out of the East African Safari Classic. During the 2007 and 2009 editions of the Classic, Rathod ran the ex-Kenjiro Shinozuka Colt Lancer which he acquired from Austria and won multiple 1600cc class titles.

He still retains the Colt Kenjiro drove on Safari in the mid-1970s. "Joginder Singh aka Simba Wa Kenya also ran a similar Colt in the old Safari and so there is always a sentimental attachment to the car," Minesh recalls with nostalgia.

"I have always loved any event with Safari adventure in Kenya. Therefore, it's not just the rough and tough Kenyan roads, it's also the people and the idea to grace every other Safari," said Rathod.

"The organization of last year's WRC Safari Rally was spot on and the stages were really nice‚—typical of Safari antics. The passionate spectators lining up on the roads were out of this world. This is why it becomes one of my favourite fixture in Africa and the best rally," he added.

Asked if he feels rusty going into WRC Safari, Minesh explained: "I must admit that driving is never something new, given the passion in nobility. This will be my first time in the driving seat of a rally car for more than a year, so I'm overly excited to be back on the saddle."

Rathod recently tested his Evo car in Kiambu after a thorough going over at his A-One Auto Garage in Nairobi's Parklands.

"So far, so good. We tested in Kiambu to check if there were any faults, but we didn't find any, luckily," he explained.

Rathod was an ardent follower of Safari back in the day—the days' fans were glued on national TV (the then VOK) to keep abreast with the proceedings.

"We did many kilometers on the  East African Safari Classic and the National 2WD Championship. WRC Safari participation was a dream come true last year. I'm happy to be back in the cockpit after last year's event in Naivasha. Always a great pleasure interacting with the world-beaters you only see on WRC TV,"  Rathod said in finality.