Kenyan champion acquires new car for WRC Safari Rally

Kenyan rally champion Jasmeet Chana expects his new Rally2 car to produce “more nerve-racking moments” in his fourth attempt at the WRC Safari Rally on the Easter weekend of March 28-31.

As he’s amiably referred to in motoring circles, Iceman will culminate his long-standing Mitsubishi Evolution X drive and upgrade to a Rally2 (formerly R5) marque well in time for the iconic Safari.

“All good things must eventually conclude. Our victorious Evolution X is currently seeking a new abode. This remarkable winner embodies the spirit of a champion,” said Iceman.

Kenyan safari rally champion Jasmeet Chana

The Nairobi-based driver is yet to reveal the marque he’ll steer on Safari, but he’s convinced that an upgrade to Rally2 will enable him to score WRC2 points, and he’s overly excited about it.

“This will be my fourth WRC Safari attempt, and we plan to go into it with a positive vibe. You can’t fight the R5s with an Evolution X, and If you do, you find yourself driving at crazy speeds, which doesn’t make sense to me. So, we considered getting something new to tackle our race adversaries on an equal footing.”

Asked about teething problems and how long it’ll take him to get the hang of the new car, Iceman quipped: “As a local driver, I would like to win in my class. Anything better than that would be a bonus.”

 “It takes time to master a new car. I have driven about four rally cars in my entire rallying career, including my championship-winning Evolution, and I must admit it takes time to come to grips with them. Obviously, it won’t be 100 percent in the first three rallies. WRC Safari is about bringing the car back in one piece and driving with your head.”

Kenyan safari rally champion Jasmeet Chana

Chana is equally excited about an Easter Safari: “I think it rekindles memories of the good old days. School kids can now get a chance to watch rally cars and it being on holiday, most of the people will not be held up at work.”

For the soft-spoken ace driver, racing against WRC cars and WRC2s is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity: “Forget about competing with them; your presence there is a great thing. At the start, you are standing next to Seb Ogier and lots of other legends.”

During the WRC Safari Rally, Iceman will have his pace notes called by his elder brother Ravi Chana, an old hand in the game.

Kenyan safari rally champion Jasmeet Chana

Prodded to explain his sibling experience, Iceman continued: “While on the stage, you don’t even realize it’s your brother calling the notes.”

“But off the stage, it becomes a family affair. Sometimes, we even joke and argue. But when the dust settles, it’s just fun. He (Ravi) is a great navigator, very experienced. He knows when to push me- a big ‘Asante’ to him; he is part of my championship success.”

The 2023 season was Iceman’s best, and he attributes it to Rubis Energy’s input.

“I would like to thank Rubis Energy for putting us up there. Without them, it would not have been possible. From Safari with Rubis on board, it was just an upward trend. We started pushing the car to its limits, trying to ascertain its potential,” he said.

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