Zambia International Rally revs off

Mohammed Essa

DETERMINED to gain points on the FIA Africa Rally Championship (ARC), defending champion Mohammed Essa and his co-driver Greg Stead today take their dare devil driving to Lusaka Motor Club during the Super Special stage of the Puma Energy Zambia International Rally.
The super special stage will mark the start of the three-day Zambia International Rally, which is the third leg of the ARC series.
Zambia has two drivers competing for the African title with 20-year-old Jassy Singh following in his father Muna’s footsteps.
Muna is a two-time African champion.
Navigated by his father’s long time co-driver Dave Sihoka, Jassy lies second on the ARC table while Essa has not yet gained a point after crashing out of the Sasol Rally in South Africa last month.
Jassy has 18 points, seven behind pacesetter Jan Habig of South Africa.
Both Essa and Jassy did not take part in the first leg held in Ivory Coast but Jassy managed to accrue some points on the ARC after successfully competing in the second leg in South Africa.
This weekend’s event will see Essa in his new Subaru N16 R4 attempt to repeat his 2012 triumph, with the African champion determined to prove that his disappointing South Africa showing was more a blip than a trend.
Essa will take advantage of the absence of joint leaders on the ARC, Ivorian Eric Pages and Jan Habig of South Africa, bearing in mind stiff competition from Jassy driving a Subaru N10 and Rwandan Giancarlo Davite, who is currently fourth with 15 points in his faithful Mitsubishi Evo X.
“We hope to finish the rally on first position so that our hopes of defending the championship stay alive. We are taking one step at a time and step by step we will see how far we can go in the competition…otherwise all is set and we are geared for the challenge. We just finished working on the car,” Essa said.
When they get to the main route in Chisamba’s Graham Ray farms tomorrow and Sunday, drivers should brace for the abrasive surface that has a myriad of corners and the combination of all the dusty and hilly tracks that may have an effect on some vehicles.
This will not be the best time for Essa’s vehicle to develop any faults and experiencing such may rule him out of his defence title race although there are five more legs left.
With 16 entries confirmed, only four are competing for the continental championship while the rest are in for local honours.
The Puma Energy Zambia International Rally is expected to be one of the most exciting rallies to be held in Zambia following the interest it has drawn from first-time participants.
Veteran participants in Azim Ticklay, Paul Monge, Ashish Patel, Ken Mukosa and Dani Beaini are all geared to challenge for the national title.
New entrants include Muna Singh junior navigated by Balveen Singh with a VW Golf 2, Noel Masadza with his co-driver Collin Gander driving a   Mitsubishi Evo 5 and Walter Wasamunu co-driven by Dwayne Adolph with a Subaru GC8 among others.
Full entry list:
Mohammed Essa /Greg Stead (Zimbabwe), Subaru N16 R4, Giancarlo Davite (Rwanda)/Sylvia Vindevogel (Burundi), Mitsubishi Evo X, Jassy Singh /Dave Sihoka, Subaru N10, Jas Mangat (Uganda)/Gihan de Silva (Uganda), Subaru N12, Jamie Whyte (Zimbabwe)/Phil Archenoul (Zimbabwe), Subaru N10, Paul Monge /Ray Thornicroft, Subaru N12B, Ashish Patel /Ajit Naik, Subaru GC8, Dani Beaini /Adrian Sutherland, Subaru N12.
Farook Ticklay/Jasmeen Singh, Subaru N10, Ken Mukosa/Nash Chisenga, Subaru N8, Azim Ticklay/Osward Chibebe, Toyota Land Cruiser, Noel Masadza/Colin Gander, Mitsubishi Evo 5, Muna Singh jr/Balveen Singh, VW Golf 2, Walter Wasamunu /Dwayne Adolph, Subaru GC8, Yazdaan Ticklay/Afzal Essa, Subaru GC8 and Toofail Dalal /Mali Chulu, Subaru GC8.