Chager maintains Safari Classic lead ahead of final showdown

The rally comes to an end today, Friday 18, 2022

Kenya's Baldev Chager in action at the East African Safari Classic Rally. [Ziyaan Sidi]

Four-time Kenya National Rally Championships winner Baldev 'Baldy' Singh Chager is on course to win the East African Safari Classic Rally, despite not having won a single stage.

The Kabras Racing speedster clocked a total cumulative time of 15:23 on day eight as the rally enters the crucial stage. Chager eclipsed compatriot Ian Duncan (15:11:44.9) who ended the day in second position.

On the penultimate day, the rally ran three competitive stages through Taita and Tsavo which saw the pace increase as the leaders started to get the hammer down, but casualties also kept coming, as has been the norm throughout the competition.

All eyes were on the pace of Patrik Sandell as, in his Tuthill-prepared Porsche 911, he tried but failed to chase down Chager and Duncan. However, he managed to set fastest time on SS19, ahead of the unclassified Geoff Bell and the ever-aggressive Lee Rose.

This resulted in almost 2’20” out of Baldy’s lead who finished behind Ian. SS20 was more of the same with identical podium places and Baldy losing almost another two minutes.

The great casualty of the first stages was Raaji Bharij who was on the drive of his life until a gearbox seal failed in SS18, shaking up the top five. This put Piers Daykin into a relatively safe but lonely fourth place.

The last stage of the day saw Philip Kadoorie set his second fastest stage time, leading home Ken Block with Baldy slotting into third.

Sandell was so fast yet again that he caught Duncan, who was suffering from overheating, and lost time in Duncan's dust and getting by the Rover. As a result he ended up sixth, ahead of the reigning champion Kris Rosenberger.

Now only just over half the starting field remains in classification but there are a lot of not formally classified crews still taking part and setting impressive times, notably Flash Tundo and Geoff Bell but, for victory and final honours this remains a three-way battle.

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