One of the biggest news-making events of the week happened on Monday when it was announced that 17-year-old Tejas Hirani would become the first Kenyan driver to compete in the last three rounds of the World Rallycross RX Lites Championship in Spain, Turkey and Italy.
Hirani participated in Test Days at the end of last year, which was organised by First Corner in Istanbul and since then he’s been waiting for the opportunity to take part in the series behind the wheels of a SuperCar Lites.
He’ll become not only the first Kenyan but also the first African driver in the World Rallycross arena this year and with the experience he’s built up in Rally Raids, autocross and the Formula BMW Rookie Programme in the United Arab Emirates, Hirani could be a potential future Rallycross star.
His team TOKSPORT number one driver, Yigit Timur will be his spotter and driver coach for the three rounds of the World RX Lites, and this will provide invaluable experience for Hirani as this is one of the most important positions in RallyCross.
The RX Lites 2015 season continues this weekend with HellRX in Norway followed by Catalunya (Spain), Istanbul (Turkey) and Franciacorta (Italy). Winner of 2015 season will have chance to drive a SuperCar prepared by OlsbergsMSE at the last round of WorldRX in St Luis, Argentina.
Following months of uncertainty, the Ford Capri Perana of reigning Champions Ian Duncan and Amaar Slatch was finally approved by the scrutineers of the East African Classic Safari Rally.
Geoff Doe and Tim Ashton had been flown in by organisers to have a look at Duncan’s car and it appears the drawn out saga between the two-time champion and the organisers is over.
I had mentioned exclusively last week that Duncan needs to change his engine from a V8 to a 3.0 litre V6. A Ford V8 engine from the USA costs roughly Sh824,000 (US$8,000) whilst a 3-litre V6 from the UK would cost more than Sh3.09 million (US$30,000) for a competitive engine. The gearbox, prop shaft and axles will have to be replaced too.
It was important for the organisers to clear the air with Duncan, as he is still the biggest draw in local motorsports. There was a huge push on social media along with motorsports stakeholders for him to defend his title, and I’m glad for both parties that the issue have been resolved.
Classic Safari Rally’s general manager Ashok Bhalla, and he was quick to clarify that the Tuthill Porsche is not a shareholder of the event, which would be a huge conflict of interest, and he was emphatic that there was no bad air between the organisers and Duncan. That last part is open to debate, as Duncan felt aggrieved at not being allowed to attend the event launch, even if his car did not conform to regulations at the time.
The best way for Duncan to respond to what has been a nightmare few months going back and forth with the organisers is to win for an unprecedented third time. We wish him and Slatch the best of luck in their preparations.
This week witnessed two incidents that are frankly despicable by any moral standards.
This first involved Kenyan international footballer Allan Wanga, who sadly had to bury his mother after she lost a long battle with cancer. So why were there no representatives from the Football Kenya Federation or the Kenya Premier League at her funeral? Wanga has done the sport and the country proud over the last few years, and the least the two bodies could have done is acknowledge that the player is going through a heartbreaking period and send representatives to the funeral.
The other incident came from rugby where the two South African members of the national sevens technical bench: strength and conditioning coach Graham Benz and attack coach Vuyo Zangqa were living in darkness this week after power supply to their residence was disconnected over unpaid bills.
No matter how deep the rift between them and the Kenya Rugby Union (which had been deepening for weeks since they held a press conference to air grievances affecting the national squad, including unpaid allowances) is, it should never have reached this stage.
Their alleged mistreatment could have far-reaching consequences for the reputation of Kenya rugby on the international stage, as foreign coaches and specialists may shun the country if the union does not clean up it’s image and that of the sport, which has taken a battering in the last couple of years.
Five African countries are currently in action at the Coast in two international junior golf events at the Nyali Golf and Country Club, Mombasa.
The inaugural All Africa Girls championship includes Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and hosts Kenya, with the teams fielding four players each. The boys are competing for the Tri-Nations trophy, with defending champions Zimbabwe taking on hosts Kenya and newcomers Nigeria.
Zimbabwe were silver medallists in the Youth Golf Olympics qualifiers held in Botswana last year, with Kenya taking bronze; and the event is organised by the Junior Golf Foundation, a project of the Kenya Golf Union (KGU).
This is great news for the sport and I hope that the juniors can use these opportunities and realise that serious money can be made as a professional if they do like their South African counterparts. It is also understood that the KGU has linked up with tourism stakeholders, including
Brand Kenya, to market the sport internationally. This is a step in the right direction, as this will attract a new set of tourists to the country.
More golf courses must be built and others upgraded to build on this partnership. Kenya is diverse, featuring desert sands in the north, snowcaps and a huge coastline – perfect to showcase high quality courses. There are huge financial windfalls to be made from sports tourism and Kenya must jump on the bandwagon. Remember you can tee at 1,000 courses around the world and locally by logging into www.afgcoa.com and register your name.
The World Athletics Championships, volleyball World Cup, Mashemeji derby, Rally Raid, Driftwood Sevens, Premier League football, La liga, The Ashes cricket and Formula One. It’s a massive weekend of local and international sport. Enjoy yourselves and try not to get divorced from your partners on Monday morning!