TITLE IN THE BAG

Karan crowned African Rally champion in Tanzania

Karan and Tauseef become the first Kenyan pair to achieve the feat in a Ford, and the marque’s second title after Zambia’s Leroy Gomes last year.

In Summary

• Karan finished second behind Uganda’s Jas Mangat in a well-driven race strategy during the season-closing ASAS Rally of Tanzania.

• On their way up, Karan and Tauseef registered four wins in Rwanda, Kenya (Equator), Burundi and Zambia.

Karan Patel and co-driver Tauseef Khan in a past race
Karan Patel and co-driver Tauseef Khan in a past race
Image: HANDOUT

Kenyan driver Karan Patel and co-driver Tauseef Khan claimed their first-ever FIA African Rally Championship title with a scintillating podium finish in Iringa, Tanzania.

They become the first Kenyan pair to achieve the feat in a Ford, and the marque’s second title after Zambia’s Leroy Gomes last year.

Karan finished second behind Uganda’s Jas Mangat in a well-driven race strategy during the season-closing ASAS Rally of Tanzania.

Their calm and assured march to the finish podium at Sao Hill Mafinga in Iringa belied the excitement that was bubbling underneath and it exploded into a solid stream of joy at prize giving.

Karan, who is also a Red Bull athlete, becomes the seventh Kenyan driver to win the title after the trailblazing Shekhar Mehta in 1981, David Horsey in 1984, Jaspreet Singh Chatthe in 2015, Don Smith in 2016,  Manvir Baryan thrice 2017 and 2019 and Carl Tundo  in 2021.

Tauseef, on the other hand, becomes the fifth Kenyan navigator’s champion after Mike Doughty, Surinder Thatthi, Bob Kaugi and Tim Jessop.

On their way up, Karan and Tauseef registered four wins in Rwanda, Kenya (Equator), Burundi and Zambia.

The Kenyan duo skipped Bandama Rallye and Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally and had to play catch up to lay their hands on the coveted title they lost to Zambian Gomes last season.

Karan and Tauseef arrived in Iringa, Tanzania in high spirits, winning the qualifying stage but appeared to back off in a well-calculated strategy to safeguard the championship.

The Kenyan crew went into the championship finale nine points better than Uganda’s Mangat.

But Mangat savoured his first victory of the season as well as kick-starting Hyundai’s victories log. But he has to contend with playing second fiddle to new champion Karan.

Youngster Hamza Anwar racked up the ARC Junior category title in third position overall when his race adversary and local Charles Nyerere suffered mechanical gremlins.

Since its launch in 1981, the ARC has provided spectacular imagery due to the rallies taking place amid stunning landscapes.

Boosted by Kenya’s return to the FIA World Rally Championship in 2021, the ARC continues to grow in strength and stature following two years of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2023 season featured a seven-round calendar traversing seven countries. The 2024 ARC season will start early next year with the iconic Rallye Bandana of Ivory coast.