Zimbabwe’s motor rally speed merchant Jamie Whyte revived his hopes for a third consecutive FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) crown after finishing second at the Kobil Rally of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.
The Madagascan pair of Ranarivelo Jean Yves and Ranaivamampianini were the surprise winners after becoming the first-ever pair from the Indian Ocean island country to win a round of the FIA- sanctioned series.
However, their victory was overshadowed by the anticipated battle between Conrad Rautenbach and Whyte which was the main focal point prior the event.
According to reports from Tanzania, Rautenbach still managed to maintain his lead on the overall standings of the FIA series despite finishing in fourth place in Kenya with two legs in Rwanda and Mauritius left in the eight-legged championship series.
Whyte, however, managed to clip six points off his compatriot’s lead on the drivers’ championship standings.
“Being the first car on the road did not help us on the second day. It was just crazy and at times extremely dangerous to find big trucks on either sides of the road at those high speeds.
“Amazingly, we were still able to set superior stage times to finish second overall,’’ said Whyte’s co-driver Phil Archenoul.
The veteran pair of Whyte and Archenoul are eyeing a hat-trick of championship wins following their triumphs in 2009 and 2010.
Rautenbach only managed to finish fourth overall in at the wheels of a hired-Subaru Impreza N14 behind Mohamed Essa of Zambia who took the last podium place in third position.
According to reports from Tanzania, Rautenbach however still managed to maintain his lead on the overall standings of the FIA-sanctioned series ahead of the last two legs of the eight legged championship series in Rwanda and Madagascar.
“Constant overheating problems which were caused by the influx of sand that was finding its way into the radiator was a major cause of us slowing down.
“Mechanics changed the radiator on three different occasions, but we were never able to stop the sand from being scooped from underneath the engine due to the shape of the car,” said Rautenbach who was being co-driven by Frenchman Nicolas Klinger.
Prior to the Kobil Rally Rautenbach was comfortably setting the pace on the 2011 ARC Drivers’ Standings with 93 points, 17 points ahead of Whyte after the first five rounds of the championship series which were held in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and Uganda.
1 Ranarivelo Jean Yves/Ranaivamampianini (Mauritius) — (Subaru Impreza N12) 02:17:12
2 Jamie Whyte/Phil Archenoul (Zimbabwe) — (Subaru Impreza) 02:18:21
3 Mohamed Essa/Greg Stead (Zambia) — (Subaru Impreza) 02:19:04
4 Conrad Rautenbach/Nicholas Klinger (Zimbabwe) — (Subaru Impreza) 02:19:13