NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – Division One Champion Aakif Virani beat closest challenger Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo to be crowned the 2021 Kenya Motorsport Personality of the year during a colourful ceremony held at the WRC Safari Rally secretariat in Kasarani.
The Skoda Fabia-R5 driver who was feted in absentia, was all smiles for his fairy tale feat in his video message after being declared winner.
“It’s such a great feeling to be recognized for my hard work. It hasn’t sunk in yet. I hope to up my game in the 2022 season and perform even better,” said Aakif who spoke to the gala night audience on zoom.
The Nairobi based businessman was voted for the coveted award by Kenya Motor Sport Federation (KMSF) competitors licence holders and Commissions.
Aakif registered his maiden KNRC win on KCB Nanyuki Rally 2021 after Tundo was disqualified for being pushed from the end of the power stage by Jasmeet Chana.
Meanwhile, Linet Ayuko was voted the KNRC Navigator of the year after a series of top ten positions.
Ayuko, who navigated Maxine Wahome in Division Two and Hussein Malik in Division One racked up unassailable points in the Division Two navigators championship but failed to meet the 75% threshold to be eligible for a title.
The gala night also awarded the 2021 champions in various motorsport disciplines as well as meritorious achievements.
Division One driver Mcrae Kimathi was awarded the FIA ARC Junior Championship for Drivers as well as the FIA ARC 3 title. His navigator Mwangi Kioni savoured his as the FIA ARC 3 Championship for Co-Drivers .
The occasion also saw the chief guest and Sports CS Amb Amina Mohamed officially present the FIA Founding Member’s Club Heritage Cup to winner Robert Dewar. Dewar, the brains behind the annual Africa Concours d’Elegance racked up the trophy at the FIA Awards Gala in Paris in December.
Amina lauded all the winners for a great season of motorsports. She expressed optimism in the season ahead adding that the FIA had confirmed that the Safari Rally will retain in its global status for the next five years
“The Safari was the most followed WRC event in 2021 which was a major milestone. We also opened the Safari Rally office in Finland to help market Kenyan products and tourism. What’s more, the Safari Greening Project in which Kenya hopes to plant 18million trees in three years across the country was a major success,” said Amina.
Kenya Motor Sports Federation (KMSF) Chairman Phineas launched the National Competition Rules for 2022 announcing major technical changes
Kimathi announced the scrapping of KNRC Premier Class which has been replaced by the existing Division One Class.
He said Rally Raid cars (T1 and T5) will now be allowed to enter the KNRC.
“The 2021 season was a great success. We were able to incorporate tarmac racing into its schedule by introducing the Motorkhana in Kenya for the first time. This is actually the first awards to feature tarmac events. During the season, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) awarded Kenya the Two- Star Environmental accreditation based on audit information from the 2021 WRC Safari Rally.