Nomad talks to Manvir Baryan, safari rally driver and managing director of Porsche Centre Nairobi, about his passion for fast cars.
How did you get into rally driving?
The business I’m in, I like cars. Fast cars. It was something I always wanted to do. I started by looking for a good used rally car which I found in Finland. The next thing was to look at a rally school. Instead, I found Tapio Laukkanen [the former Finland, British and now Kenyan rally champion]. He has a different approach, he comes to you, and gives you one-on-one training in your own car in own your type of terrain. My first rally was at the end of 2011.
What was your first car?
It was a Subaru Hatchback. It cost about 60,000 euros. It was used, but a high-spec rally car that was totally rebuilt and ready to go. Later, I bought another Subaru, but this time it was new. I then upgraded to the M Sport Ford fiesta R5 and now I have a Skoda Fabia R5 which I purchased at the beginning of this year.
What’s the safari rally scene like?
It’s very competitive. When we started, it wasn’t the case, but when we brought Tapio here [to drive on Baryan’s Multiple Racing Team], he upped the game. Even the top guys were being beaten by minutes. Now it’s down to seconds.
Have you won any of your rallies?
I won my first Championship rally this year. It was a new car, a new year and a new championship and to make it even better, I had just come out of a roll [in November]. So it was amazing.
How risky is the sport?
It is dangerous like any type of motorsport but the good thing is, you’re in a roll cage strapped into the seat with a six-point harness and wearing fireproof race wear, a Hans device (head & neck support) and, off course, a helmet. So it isn’t all that bad.
Can anyone take up rally driving?
It depends on your budget. It is definitely a costly sport, but you could start off with a cheap road car and build it up into a rally car. You’d need to add all the usual rally car requirements, such as the roll cage, bucket seats, six-point harnesses and body reinforcement. At the top of the game, people are spending a lot of money, but there are not many of them. You just have to be able to afford it at your own level and, most importantly, have a passion for it.
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