Rautenbach the man to beat in Sasol Rally

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Zambia’s rally ace, Muna Singh has said his aim in the two-day 611,53km Sasol Rally that starts on Friday is to finish ahead of his two main rivals from Zimbabwe and Rwanda who pipped him during the Toyota Zimbabwe Challenge.

And Muna’s Team Madison Racing mate Mohammed Essa has secured the services of Zimbabwean driver, Jamie Whyte’s supporting personnel to service his Subaru Impreza WRX alongside Jairos Jamba in the Sasol Oils (Pty) Ltd-sponsored Sasol Rally.

African champion Whyte and Giancarlo Davite of Rwanda are coming into the Sasol Rally that is being staged 50 kilometres outside Nelspruit in Sabie town, are lying second and third respectively ahead of Muna in the FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) contest that has attracted seven crews.

ARC fourth-placed Muna said in an interview yesterday he would go flat out to outdo Whyte who has hired a S2000 Toyota Auris from South African Heinrich Lategan and Rwandese Davite at the wheels of a Subaru WRX same like Muna and Essa.

Muna said the Toyota Zimbabwe Challenge and Total Tour Natal Rally winner, Conrad Rautenbach, who pilots a Ford Fiesta 2000, is in a class of his own and staging an onslaught on him would be unrealistic.

“The strategy is definitely to finish ahead of Jamie and Giancarlo so that we have an advantage over them at home during next month’s Zambia International Rally where we again plan go flat out and win the rally.

“That is our home rally, we have to be on top of our game so that the title remains in Zambia,” he said.

Meanwhile, Essa’s misery continued when he suffered a temporal setback after his Dar-es-Salaam-based Ugandan co-driver Moses Matovu failed to touch down at Kruger International Airport in Nelspruit from Tanzania as scheduled on Tuesday morning.

Matovu, who has been calling the notes for Essa since last year, only arrived here on Tuesday night, in time for yesterday’s route reconnaissance that featured all the 48 crews that have enlisted to compete in the rally.

The 21-year-old Essa has already lost the services of two of his three service crew members, Ndulwa Mulenga and Raphael Chikonkola, who were denied entry into South Africa at Beitbridge border post on Monday morning for not having valid passports.

Essa’s father Khalid said Whyte would be serviced by Lategan’s personnel and because of that the veteran Zimbabwean driver has an extra service crew member.

“The latest is that one of Jamie Whyte’s men will help us. What has happened is Heinrich Lategan now has an S2000 Peugeot 207 from France and whose car, an S2000 Toyota Auris, Jamie Whyte has hired for this event.

“Because of that some of Lategan’s men will service for Jamie Whyte leaving Whyte’s service crew with an extra man and he is the one who is going to service for Mohammed. My guys have now reached safely back in Lusaka,” said Khalid.

A strong field of 48 cars will jostle for honours in this season’s Sasol Rally that features 17 competitive stages centred around the York Tree Plantation area.

Nine stages will be run on Saturday including two tar -power stages slated for the evenings and in the night at Water River and Sabie School.