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Driven by passion on one hand and hard work on the other

By Charles Thuku
Wednesday, May 20th, 2020
Evans Kavisi and navigator Absalom Aswani power their car through a competitive section during a past rally. Photo/PD/PHILIP KAMAKYA

Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) Division Two leader Evans Kavisi grew up following the old days of rally sport.  

A story by his mother in 1994 has it that he suffered a panic attack from excitement when he witnessed a rally car being repaired by the roadside, just metres from where he stood. 

It took him over two hours to calm him down. 

“That was my first real encounter with a rally car and it stuck. It became the biggest passion for me thereon,” he said.

Kavisi makes up a group of black indigenous drivers hoping to one day emulate legendary drivers like Patrick Njiru and the late Jonathan ‘JT’ Toroitich who reigned supreme in the years of yore.

For his dream to come to fruition, Kavisi was mentored by three-time Kenyan champion Azar Anwar to  start rallying in 2018.

“As a competitor I started rallying in 2028. However I started actively participating in the sport in the year 2006.

I don’t think anyone can give a straight answer to ‘why rallying?’ I however believe everyone in this sport is a closet adrenaline junkie; you cant imagine living without it.

It’s the adrenaline, the mud, the dust, the smell of fuel, the pain, the sweltering heat in the cockpit; I cant describe what it feels like. “

His biggest influence in the sport has been Azar Anwar.

‘I owe alot of what I know to this man Azar. We met in 2006 and he took me under his wing as an apprentice.

I used to help out in his workshop to prepare the rally cars whenever I could get the chance, and in the service during race weekends.

We could sit for long hours into the night talking about rallying and his approach to it mentally, financially and what it meant logistically to be active in this sport. 

“He helped make rallying a reality for me and I will forever be thankful.  As a matter of fact, when I wanted to start rallying, it is Azar who introduced me to Absalom Aswani who has since been my navigator.

He helped me learn what it takes to drive, what it means to prepare mentally for this.” Kavisi continues.

When starting out in rally, so many things are unknown and unfortunately some things can only come to you through experience. 

One of the earliest teething problems Kavisi cites was poor preparation. “It is made an unnecessarily expensive exercise and we were plagued with reliability gremlins.

This almost sucked out the joy of rallying and had us in the gutter for a while. We had to go back to the basics, plan the team afresh for us to just be able to finish events.

From then on we were able to foresee problems effectively thus reducing the unknowns.

Thankfully, there is a camaraderie and a welcoming feel within the rallying community, a lot of people came out to help us even as newbies in the sport; some removing things from their cars to help us to continue motoring.

Thankfully we’ve had the gracious backing of our sponsors Greenlife Crop Protection Africa, who committed walking the journey with us as we grew and we are proud to be associated with them.”

What was the feeling like clinching your first ever KNRC career top 10 in Stoni Athi

It was a fantastic season opener for us, especially coming from the last season where the last 2 rallies dint go our way.

We were elated to clinch 7th overall having acquired a new car and such a result was reassuring that we made the right choice.