NAIROBI, Kenya, March 29 – Paras Pandya and Izhar Mirza will return from sabbatical after months of inactivity.
The Mombasa-based duo have competed in the ARC Equator Rally Kenya scheduled for Naivasha on Saturday and Sunday.
The event takes place on the outskirts of the city of Naivasha and serves as the third round of the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC), following the Nakuru and Il-Bisil rallies.
It will also count towards the second round of the FIA African Rally Championship after the Bandama of Côte d’Ivoire Rally.
Izhar exudes confidence and hopes to dust off some cobwebs ahead of the event.
“I haven’t been in my rally car since last year’s WRC Safari Rally. I took a sabbatical after the event to also focus on work given the difficult COVID-19 situation,” Izhar said.
“I can’t wait to get back in the saddle as this event will serve as a practice run for the WRC event scheduled for June,” added Izhar, who will be piloting a Coast Pekee Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.
On the other hand, Paras is in just as good a mood as he is currently fine-tuning his Synergy Gases Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X at Baldev Chager’s BHP Performance Workshop in Nairobi’s Spring Valley to ensure it is in good condition on time.
When asked if he felt rusty after the long break, Paras said he was in good health and ready for the event.
“I haven’t competed in a national event since last year, but what better way to blow the cobwebs away than to climb back into the bucket seat of a Mitsubishi? I’m really excited to be back and looking forward to having some space this season.”
“The car is fine. I’m just waiting for the last checks of Boldy (Baldev Chager) this week, the last national rally I did was Ramisi in 2021,” explained Paras.
“And then again, we just recently did our club rally in Mombasa, so we’re not rusty.”
The Equator Rally has attracted current ARC leader Leroy Gomes from Zambia in a Ford Fiesta-R2 and Amaanraj Rai from Uganda in a Skoda, Giancarlo Davite from Rwanda also took part in the event in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.
The FIA African Rally Championship (the equivalent of AFCON in football) was first held in 1981.
It features an all-gravel calendar of events taking place against a backdrop of stunning scenery in the sub-Saharan region of the continent.
Instead of the previous 15, only the five fastest drivers in the qualification phase take part in the selection of starting places for the opening stage of an event.