Kenya established itself among the top-tier countries with elite drivers after Onkar Rai capped off the World Rally Championship (WRC) by winning the Category 3 race after a grueling four-day competition.
Onkar, who is the CEO of Menengai Oil Refineries, is a son to Kabras Sugar Company owner Jaswant Singh Rai. He dedicated his victory to his elder brother Tejveer Rai, who had earlier crashed in the race on Friday, June 25.
Karan Patel and Carl Tundo finished the race second and third respectively.
A safari rally car during the World Rally Championships
Onkar had initially pointed out that the race would be a tough test for all drivers who would have to prove their mettle against the World’s best.
“The Safari Rally is Safari Rally. The big boys have struggled and so have we. The big machines have had a rough time, too. It was very difficult to drive as well,” Onkar pointed out after his brother’s accident.
He finished seventh on Friday, which revealed the tough test for Kenyans in order to scoop the prize. However, he had promised his fans that he would give it his all in order to pull off a victory.
His younger brother, Tejveer was also viewed as one of the favourites to shine Kenya’s flag high in the race. The former three-time Nakuru rally driver had exuded confidence coming into the WRC.
“It is a dream come true… The difference between the top cars and our cars is a big difference but all the same, we hope to show the international drivers that Kenya has some talent and maybe one day, one of our boys will get a chance to drive the big cars,” he stated in a previous interview.
President Uhuru Kenyatta also graced the event in order to award the winners of the race. He was flanked by Sports CS Amina Mohammed, Tourism CS Najib Balala, ODM leader Raila Odinga and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka.
The WRC has attracted a huge number of crowds who were thrilled about the return of the rally after a 19- year absence.
This has seen huge traffic snarl-ups on the roads in Naivasha with fans pouring in at the event. This led to the Kenya National Highways Authority (KENHA) offering alternative routes when plying the Nairobi-Nakuru highway.
Further, the government also urged Kenyans to adhere to the set Covid-19 guidelines in a bid to curb the deadly virus.
“All the Covid-19 protocols remain in place, nothing has been suspended. The rally takes place during the day, and we don’t expect multitudes of people congregating in Naivasha at night,” the sports CS stated.
Sports CS Amb. Amina Mohammed Delivering Her Speech at the Team Betika Launch at Nyayo Stadium on June 4,2021