Three questions with Raaji Bharij (above, right)
How did your rallying career begin?
I started rallying in my dad’s Alfa Romeo Alfetta. Getting the opportunity to drive my dad’s car with his support taught me a lot about preparation, set up and the work that really goes into doing a rally, including loading and logistics.
I also learned a great deal about the mechanical side, which is invaluable in classic rallying. When a driver is driving a car he knows inside out, it is easier to conserve the car when necessary. Getting to the finish is always the main thing.
So your dad was a rally driver – what about the rest of the family?
My grandfather was a top speedway rider in Kenya. Dad rallied the Alfa through the 1980s and my uncle started rallying a Ford Escort, eventually moving to a Mitsubishi. My elder cousin brother rallied an Alfasud for a while, and another cousin, Jas, is a top Quattro Charge competitor. Motorsport is truly in our family.
Is it true that you started your career alongside Rajay?
This is correct! I was a hotheaded youngster, so it was decided to put a more experienced navigator with me to rein me in. Rajay and I really get along in and out of the car, which is very important. In our first rally, we won the Pirelli Star in the ARC Safari Rally, but due to various commitments we only got back together as a team much later with the East African Safari Classic Rally project.
Rajay has enjoyed several Safari Rally adventures from the co-driver’s seat, including alongside Raju Patti in a Toyota Corolla, with Diamond Lalani in a Toyota Land Cruiser and partnering Shahid Essaji in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4.
Rajay is a three-time Kenyan Clubman Rally Champion and navigated serial Kenyan champion, Baldev Chager, in a Subaru Legacy through 1997. After taking a break from rallying, he returned as a driver in 2008, buying a Subaru and bringing Aslam Khan in as co-driver for the Guru Nanak Rally, where the pair finished seventh overall.
“As longstanding supporters of local motorsports, we are proud to be associated with Raaji and Rajay and their magnificent record to date,” said Muthoni Gacheche of Intra Africa. “Safari Classic Rally is the world’s toughest rally, so it is exciting to support such a competitive pairing.”