Onkar Rai steered clear of trouble on Sunday to confirm an emotional WRC3 victory at Safari Rally Kenya.
The local driver set a sizzling pace from the get-go in his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
After edging out a healthy lead during Friday’s punishing leg, he consolidated his position with a pair of fastest stage times on the penultimate day.
A perfectly measured approach to the last five stages on Sunday saw Rai seal victory by 4min 04.0sec. He dedicated the win to his brother Tejveer, who crashed out on Friday.
"It's amazing. I hope he is watching, this is for him,” said Rai. “It was a really hard drive, and I am really happy that we have got the rally back."
Karan Patel was delighted to finish second in a Ford Fiesta R5. The 30-year-old racked up 40sec in penalties due to late check-ins, but had a healthy 3min 10.3sec advantage over Carl Tundo by the end.
There was a second-place finish for Karan Patel. Tundo's rally had been eventful to say the least.
The former Safari winner started as a favourite, but dropped over 7min when he crashed his Polo into a tree in SS4. He went on to claim multiple stage wins and was relieved to salvage a podium.
"A lot of challenges on this rally, with lots of problems on Friday. If we'd just been a bit more sensible, we would have been further up,” Tundo reflected.
Daniel Chwist restarted on Sunday after breaking a track control arm on his Fiesta the previous morning.
The Pole eventually ended 42min 28.4sec back from the leaders in fourth. Aakif Virani had been fifth, but his Safari hopes were dashed when his Škoda Fabia R5 ground to a halt in the penultimate stage. There were no finishers in WRC2. Czech star Martin Prokop was the only entrant and he crashed his Fiesta Rally2 heavily on Friday.
KCB Bank Kenya are the official financial partners of the 2021 WRC Safari rally Kenya.