Champ Karan now targets elusive African Rally title in 2023
Karan took part in the African Rally Championship (ARC) season in 2022 but lost the continental title to Zambian Leroy Gomes by virtue of skipping the iconic Bandama Rallye of Ivory Coast as well as a mistake he made in the muddy Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally.
On Sunday, the motocross biker turned rally ace successfully vanquished his rival Jasmeet Chana in the season-closing SUC Guru Nanak Rally 2022 to rack up his maiden KNRC title at the expansive Teita Sisal Estates in Taita Taveta County.
Chana went into the season closer with a 9-point advantage over his race adversary Karan but turbo gremlins on the second loop of the 8-stage, 236km Sikh Union Club organized round saw his title aspirations go up in smoke.
In Teita, the RedBull athlete won 8 out of 8 stages (including the designated 10.59km Kamtonga-2 Power Stage) to also lay his hands on the coveted Guru Nanak title previously won by Ian Duncan a record 11 times.
Duncan, who failed to finish Sunday’s event in a Nissan Datsun classic machine, was present in Teita to see the new champion receive the prestigious Guru Nanak floating trophy for his cockpit adroitness.
Teita Estates is incidentally where Lee Rose sealed the 2004 KNRC Mombasa Rally at penultimate stage. Eighteen years later, a new star and champion has replicated the feat.
Karan thanked his parents for believing in him and sponsoring him throughout his racing career.
Karan: “Without them (Parents) I wouldn't have RedBull on board and other sponsors who have supported me. Rallying was the second motorsport I took part in after bikes, something that my dad (Kiran Patel) has invested a lot of time and money in.”
He added: “My parents have been with me through and through racing bikes, sometimes falling off the bike and being taken to hospital. I mean, it has been a very long journey from motorbikes to rally cars and I want to say this is the beginning of many championships won and hopefully we can bag the African Rally Championship but time will tell.”
Asked what his affiliation as Kenya’s first and only RedBull athlete means to his rising career behind the wheel, Karan quipped: “Again, time will tell.”
Karan intends to do ‘all rallies’ next season which will include the KNRC locally and the ARC on the continental arena and indeed a few European races.
“So hopefully being the new champion, we can have new sponsors come on board to support our intended busy campaign next season and see what the outcome will be. But then again, we have business to run and it’s a critical balancing act trying to achieve success in both,” said Karan.
Karan reckons that it’s been a good fight between him and Jasmeet who finished most of the races in second position behind me.
“It’s for him to know not to give up, and keep pushing because we will be back to contest the same championships.” Karan said in finality.
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