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How Austrian triumphed in Classic Rally

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ABDUL SIDI

By ABDUL SIDI
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The East African Safari Classic Rally ended in style after a dramatic chase between Porsche 911 cars of Austrian Kris Rosenberger and Swede Stiq Blomqvist in the last two of the 24-stage competition on Saturday.

Rosenberger and his navigator, Nicola Bleicher, drove persistently to record their first victory of the Safaricom East African Safari Classic Rally, driving a Porsche 911 car.

The Austrians, who led the event briefly at the start before drifting to second for most of the competition, beat former winner of the Classic Rally Blomqvist by one minute and 33.6 seconds at the end of the 10-day competition.

Female competitors made a good impression in the race, with Bleicher making history by becoming the first lady to finish the major event. Others included Julia Savesson, who guided Trey Lockey to the sixth place, Kate Hyes who helped her dad Joe Hayes to 12th place and Juliette Brinkerhoff who guided Renee Brinkerhoff to the 15th place.

All the ladies were driving Porsche 911 cars.

The competition’s clerk of course, Raju Chagger, said he was happy with the success of the rally.

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“It’s been an amazing challenge and an adventure. This is the hardest thing I’ve done in rallying. It would not have been easy without the support and help of my fellow officials. I am exhausted but at the same time satisfied that we got through without any major accident,’’ Chaggar told Nation Sport.

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“The Classic Rally is like all eight Kenya National Rally Championship events put together. I has been a wonderful experience, with a lot of help from the team of officials, led by my deputy Alfir Khan, my assistants Tinu Khan and Qayum Shiraz and a big family of officials. I am just very grateful.’’

Chaggar said his sad moment in the competition was losing an entire day due to poor weather. He said it was always painful but he would never have compromised on the safety of drivers. The weather made it hard to manage the event but proper planning saved the day.

Each day, the rally consisted of three competitive stages, and transport or liaison sections. The total distance was about 3,900 kilometres out of which 1,500km was competitive distance covering 24 stages in both Kenya and Tanzania.

On any given day of the rally, crews were expected to cover between 390 – 500km (combined distance of stage and transport).

Classic rallying tests endurance of the crews. Only 16 of the original 20 starters finished the grueling rally.

Tanzanian leg of the competition proved tough as one full day was cancelled due to rains and two of the leading drivers, Baldev Chager and Onkar Rai, lost their top place due to mechanical problems.

Rai was the best-placed local driver among the five Kenyans out of the 16 survivors of the rally. Tejveer Rai finished in the top 10 while Aslam Khan (11th), Baldev Chager (14th) and Ian Duncan (15th) finished in that order.

Telecommunications giant Safaricom was joined in by Vivo Energy Kenya, Whitesands Hotel, Bidco Africa and DT Dobie as the main sponsors of the rally.

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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.

“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”

With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.

There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.

Rugby Championship

There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.

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That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.

South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.

“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.

‘Seven Nations’

Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?

Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.

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England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.

Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.

Super Rugby

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Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.

The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.

Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.

South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.

‘Pro16’

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.

“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.

But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.

While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.

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Currie Cup

The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.

First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.

But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections

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By NATION REPORTER

Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.

The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.

Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.

Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.

Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.

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