NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 31 – Pauline Sheghu and lately Maxine Wahome are some of the few women to have competed and completed the grueling Safari Rally, which since last year has been part of the WRC circuit.
And now, a 10-year old girl, champion in autocross, wants to achieve that feat, and, above all, go one better by becoming the first woman to win the Safari Rally.
Kiana Rajput who started practicing racing at the tender age of five, says she wants to achieve that feat when she gets to rallying age and before then, will put in the hard work to improve her craft.
Rajput was the darlin of the crowd in her Maji Buggie at the first ever all women Lionesses Rallying Club Championship at the Kasarani SSS track on Sunday where she clocked a cumulative time of 28mins, 58.6secs.
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She says competing at the Rally has injected confidence in her, that she can achieve a successful career in rallying.
“When I grow up, definitely, I want to become a WRC driver and compete in the Safari Rally… maybe in the Formula One too some day. I was a champion at Go Karting and so I believe that I can be a champion in the rally too,”Kiana told Capital Sport.
“I believe I can be the first woman winner of the WRC Safari Rally,” she added, with a punch of confidence in her voice.
Sunday was the first time that Kiana, navigated by her close friend Ishy Renu, was doing a rally circuit, and she says it was absolutely motivating for her.
“I was very nervous at the beginning but I knew I could do it. It was a lot of fun because I had never done a rally. It was interesting; nerve wrecking at the beginning but once I got the hang of it, it was a lot of fun,” she stated.
She adds; “It was interesting doing the notes and stuff. I learnt how to do and ready notes on the road. I hadn’t done that ever before.”
“It motivated me a lot because it has shown me and told me that I could do a lot of things that I have never done before,” she adds.
Her close friend Renu, a rally and autocross photographer by profession was jumping into a competitive race for the very first time ever.
“It was really interesting because I had never done this before but we got to learn on the job of course with a lot of practice before. I was really glad to be there and doing this with Kiana. We definitely had a lot of fun,” said the 26-year old.
“Kiana is an amazing driver and I definitely know she will make a huge amazing driver one day. Already at 10 years she is doing amazing for herself and this shows the potential she has,” she added.
Kiana started practicing go karting when she was five years old and started competing at six. At eight years old, she went on to motorcross and last year, as she celebrated her ninth birthday, made history by becoming the first ever female to win the Pee Wee category at the National Autocross Championship.
She says the itch of doing rallying was picked from her dad Kiran Rajput and brother Yuvraj, 12, who are both in motorcross. Her dad is also a rally driver.
She hopes that one day, she is going to be better than both of them.
“They really motivate me and I would want to be a champion like them and maybe do better. I am not sure though because it will demand a lot of work, but definitely one day I want to be where they have been,”
“I feel I made them proud at the Rally on Sunday,” she added.
Meanwhile her dad Kiran hopes her daughter, and son Yvraj will one day follow in his footsteps.
“Karting removed the fear of speed out of their heads and when they came into rallying they were a bit more comfortable. I am hoping my children can progress to bigger things and now that the Safari is back the motorcross scene in Kenya is going to get better and hopefully young kids will be scouted by world teams. They are in the right path at the moment,” their dad Kiran said ina past interview with CGTN.