“I am excited. it’s going to be our first WRC in 19 years as a country. Most of us were very young and didn’t know much about motorsport when the last WRC was held in Kenya. It’s a good thing that it has come because majority of the current drivers have never competed in the WRC Safari Rally. Personally, I’m really looking forward to it and it’s a dream come true,” Bengi said.
Bengi vividly remembers the last WRC in 2002 when he went out to cheer on the world rally teams.
“I remember with nostalgia when the Peugeot 206 was competing in the Safari Rally in 2002.I mean, it’s quite exciting and unbelievable that today we’re are the people doing this amazing event alongside WRC drivers. WRC cars will whip us hands down, yes. The car is out of this world. But it will be exciting to see how the R5’s fare against WRC 2 teams,” Bengi added.
Carl Tundo and Rai siblings Onkar and Tejveer will driver VW Polo R5 cars which are a step below the WRC super car.
Bengi will drive a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X (R4) and will be navigated by Peter Mutuma.
The much-fancied super cars in the forthcoming WRC Safari Rally may have thrown the spanner in the works for local R4 and Group N cars, but Premier Class ace Bengi still believes he has got something up his sleeves.
The former Group N and Division One Champion also believes the prestigious event may require certain amounts of calmness “but again World Rally Teams are experienced and race professionally.”Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
“Here in Kenya, racing is like leisure, meaning we have our work commitments to deal with. A WRC driver lives and eats rallying, so it will be interesting how they tackle Safari. All the three world rally teams (Toyota Gazoo, Hyundai Motorsport and M-Sport Ford) are yet to race in Africa so it will be a whole new experience for all and sundry.”
Bengi’s Evolution X is undergoing a strip rebuild at the Baldev Chager’s BHP Performance workshop in Spring Valley Nairobi.
“We are excited that WRC is back. There will be a lot of knowledge transfer from these drivers coming from elsewhere. There is a lot of exchange that we need to learn from these people- how do they drive? How they prepare their teams! how organised they are and so forth?
“In terms of how prepared we are- we are ready and in a months’ time this car- in as much as it looks as it’s in a shell- will be pretty much together way before then. I’m lucky to have Boldy (Baldev Chager) to prepare it. When you have a champion preparing your car you also benefit from many things like advice and stuff.”
Bengi is also excited that his car is homologated and passed the test as required by the World Governing Body, FIA.
“The car qualifies for the event, just a few upgrades from the scrutineering requirements which we will be compliant when the time comes for pre event inspection.”
The event is sponsored by the Government of Kenya with KCB Bank Kenya and Toyota Kenya being co-sponsors.