Top Zimbabwean drivers Conrad Rautenbach and Jamie Whyte will be main attractions when the FIA African Rally Championship series resumes on Friday at the Kobil Rally of Tanzania.
The Kobil Rally of Tanzania is the sixth round of the FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) series.
The event will cover a total of 498 competitive kilometres divided into two legs starting today and finishing in Mlimani City in Dar es Salaam.
Rautenbach and defending champion Whyte, who won the event last year on his way to winning his second consecutive ARC crown, are both currently battling to be crowned as the 2011 African motor rally champions.
Rautenbach is setting the pace on the 2011 ARC Drivers’ Standings with 93 points after the first five rounds of the championship series which were held in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and Uganda.
The 26-year-old talented driver is 17 points clear of second-placed Whyte, the two-time defending ARC champion after winning the title for the past two years.
This season Rautenbach and Whyte battled four times in opening four rounds of the competition in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia and Kenya.
Rautenbach who finished a disappointing sixth at the Garden Route Rally in the Western Cape over the weekend has beaten Whyte thrice, in Zimbabwe, in South Africa and in Zambia with the latter winning the battle at the KCB Safari Rally of Kenya.
In the KCB Safari Rally of Kenya, which was held during the weekend of June 17-19, Whyte finished fourth overall while Rautenbach came home in sixth place.
Although Whyte came fourth, he was classified as the first ARC-registered driver which saw him reduce Rautenbach’s lead to just 17 points.
In fact Whyte had another opportunity of overtaking his rival at the top of the standings, but failed to take advantage after failing to last the distance during the fifth round of the series – the Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally.
Rautenbach missed the event in favour of the VW Rally, which was held during the same weekend in South Africa.
However, this weekend the two will come face-to-face for the first time since the KCB Safari Rally of Kenya and they will both be determined to do well ahead of the last two rounds in Rwanda and Madagascar.
Rautenbach who will be co-driven by Frenchman Nicolas Klinger has shifted from his Ford Fiesta S2000 to the more reliable Subaru Impreza N16, while Whyte and his co-driver Phil Archenoul will be behind the wheel of a Subaru Impreza N10.
The current 2011 ARC Drivers Standings:
1 Conrad Rautenbach (Zimbabwe) 93
2 Jamie Whyte (Zim) 76
3 Alain Dethise (Burundi) 25