Kabras Sugar Racing has announced its lineup for the 2017 East African Safari Classic Rally. Three Porsche 911s prepared by the famous BMA organisation in Belgium will race under the Kabras banner, driven by former KNRC Division Two former champion Onkar Singh Rai, elder brother Tejveer Singh Rai and Kenya’s three-time national rally champion, Baldev Singh Chager.
Kabras Sugar Racing is one of the top teams on the Kenyan rallying scene. While the team uses Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 10 R4s in the Kenya national rally championship, the sleek and sturdy Porsche 911 has been Kabras’ steed for the past two Safari Classics.
The three Porsche 911s are currently enjoying a full strip and rebuild in Belgium under the watchful eye of BMA Chief, Bernard Munster. Once that work is complete, the cars will be flown back to East Africa for a series of tests ahead of this year’s Safari Classic Rally, which is again sponsored by Kenya Airways with support from others including Safaricom.
While Tejveer and Onkar will be making their second and third Safari Classic appearances respectively, multiple ARC Safari Rally champion Chager will be making his Safari Classic debut: an experience he is certainly savouring.
Amongst Kenya’s most decorated rally drivers, Chager has co-driven for Onkar in the last two Safari Classic events. The duo’s most memorable Safari Classic achievement was winning the long and energy-sapping stage at Parane in 2013, en route to a top ten finish.
A mechanic by trade, Chager’s technical know-how makes him a pivotal part of the team’s preparations. His legendary composure in competition led to back-to-back ARC Safari wins in 2013/2014, not to mention a myriad of podium finishes through his highly successful career to date. He cites a long family history in motorsport as an essential part of his success.
“I’m a second-generation child of motorsport,’ says Chager. “My family’s ties throughout the motorsport family have been vital: like priceless stepping-stones showing the way from our earliest days.
“It began with my father, Daljit. He did lots of circuit racing, and also raced motorcycles. His eldest brother, Manjit Chager, was one of the top co-drivers back in the day, sitting alongside legends including Assa Singh, Ashok Pattni and, of course, my dad.
“Dad’s younger brothers, Ranjit and Manori, were also active participants. Ranjit claimed a few championships over many years on track and in rallying. Manori was very fast on circuits and enjoyed a brief career in rallying before migrating to Spain. My brother Raji is also well established. Having grown up in motocross, he is currently active in Formula 2. Even my sister, Avinder, has co-driven in the Safari rally with good friend, Kuku Sagoo.”
Onkar made his rallying debut on the 2010 Guru Nanak Rally in an ex-Chager Subaru. A quick driver and fast learner, Onkar deservedly clinched the coveted KNRC Division One and Two championships in his seven-year racing career. Tejveer has yet to lay claim to a championship title, but has earned numerous top ten finishes in the KNRC as a Division One driver.
“I predict a highly exciting Safari Classic Rally,” says Onkar. “We had a stage win in 2013 but didn’t achieve our potential last time out. We will set the record straight this year. Of course, Stig Blomqvist will be a hard nut to crack. Duncan will be equally formidable. But any of the three drivers from our team should not be underestimated: we will be exceptionally competitive.
“Boldy (Chager) is an old hand, and Tejveet has now come of age, so I expect intense competition – you may even say cutthroat – but, with a top ten finish behind me and now with a car built to win, I aim to take full advantage of my experience. I am relishing the prospect of featuring in the Classic and can’t wait for it to start. I’m literally counting the days down to starting at the first control.”
Original story by Samson Ateka