Carl Tundo and longtime co-driver Tim Jessop are looking forward to enjoying the benefits that have come with the 2021 Africa Rally championship.
The Kenyan pair landed their maiden ARC title with victory in last month’s Mountain Gorilla Rally in Rwanda.
But this year’s crown was not on one of his season’s bucket list.
‘Flash’ as is commonly referred to, would partner with MINT motorsport, a UK racing firm to run their VW Polo on the African circuit. And it was a huge payoff.
“After Equator rally, we never decided to do the whole season, we were to do rally by rally. But after the win in Tanzania, we agreed to go to Zambia and that is how we got in,” explained Tundo.
The partnership came with a transition from the famous Mitsubishi Evo X to a Volkswagen Polo R5.
The change of car was indeed a big leap.
“The car is really fantastic, a huge advantage for us although they were drivers with equally good cars. But one still needs skills to drive a good car.
“Preparation from the whole crew and the Mint team really made a difference in our performance,” he says.
Tundo and Jessop covered four ARC events in Kenya Tanzania, Zambia, and Rwanda; winning all.
Although the ARC journey seemed smooth for them, Tundo admits it had its challenges.
“First it is a long journey away from home. Logistically it has been the toughest thing have done in my rally career.
“We encountered problems on border crossing. I think that is one field organisers should work on to assist traveling crews.
“Besides, the events have been awesome, there are lots of fans across the country and I enjoyed meeting guys all over.
“My most enjoyed was Rwanda because organizers really went up to edge to assist. Competition-wise, Zambia had good stages while Rwanda was so fast for my liking.
“The one event I wanted to do is Uganda rally. I have done it before but did not go far. Hopefully, if I get to defend my title, I will make it there.”
Tundo will not be participating in the season-ending South Africa rally.
However, Tundo’s crown was a seventh African title by a Kenyan driver.
He also became the fifth Kenyan to win the coveted title after Manvir Baryan (2017, 2018, 2019), Don Smith (2016), Jaspreet Chatthe (2015), and David Horsey (1984).
“I have been a Kenyan champion for a few years but I never imagined being an African champion because doing the ARC is tough. But I am so elated that we added that title to my rally career.”
Tundo’s continental success has come with even better things. He will be assured of a drive in the Hyundai i20N Rally2 car for one of the World Rally Championship events in 2022.
The FIA partnered with Hyundai Motorsport to launch the FIA rally champions world tours which is intended to encourage and promote rallying talent from the regional series. The campaign will run for three years.
“We are looking forward to that opportunity though we are yet to find out more about the offer. It would really be great driving R5 works car,” he added.
And for his choice of rally, the response was rather obvious.
“If I was asked to choose the event to do with the Hyundai, I would still go for Safari rally to get that experience in a works car. Although, I would love to see how I can do on snow or tarmac.”
Tundo is now looking to yet another competitive adventure for the future.
“My dream would be to do the Dakar rally. But I don’t have much time on my side when it comes to age. I suppose that will be on my bucket list,” he said.