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Nikhil Sachania eyes Safari Rally glory

By Winnie Onyando February 21st, 2024 2 min read

With a month to the WRC Safari Rally, preparations are in full swing for Kenyan rally driver Nikhil Sachania and his team.

In an exclusive interview, Nikhil shared insights into their readiness for the event and the excitement surrounding their partnership with KCB Bank.

“We’ve started preparations with the car,” Nikhil Sachania revealed, emphasising the meticulous process of stripping down and rebuilding the vehicle over the coming week.

He expressed gratitude for the ongoing support from KCB, highlighting their pivotal role in enabling their participation in the rally for the third consecutive year.

“KCB has been involved with rallying for so long in Kenya,” Nikhil remarked, underscoring the symbiotic relationship between the bank and the sport. “If there’s no KCB, there’s no rally.”

Reflecting on the significance of the partnership, Nikhil acknowledged the financial backing provided by KCB, emphasising its crucial role in navigating the challenges posed by the current economic climate.

“Without them, I don’t think we would have been able to take part in this current rally,” he admitted.

Looking ahead to the rally itself, Nikhil, Kenya’s first paraplegic rally driver, expressed anticipation for the challenging stages and the potential impact of weather conditions, with hopes for rain to add an extra layer of excitement for fans and drivers alike. Recalling last year’s unexpected downpour, he noted the unpredictable nature of the event and the adaptability required to succeed.

Despite the challenges, Nikhil conveyed confidence in their approach, drawing on past experiences to guide their strategy. “We plan on approaching this rally with a clear mind,” he affirmed. “We’re looking for a good finish and just having a good time.”

As Nikhil continues to carve his path in the world of motorsport, his journey serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for individuals facing similar challenges. The turning point in Nikhil’s life came in September 2011, during a test run of his new quad in Athi River. Racing alongside his comrades Shazar Anwar and Zane Young, he encountered a fateful moment when his quad collided with a rock at high speed, resulting in a devastating spinal injury.

However, Nikhil’s determination to race remained unshaken. “I have always loved and been into motorsports,” he shares, reflecting on his lifelong fascination with the sport. “During my rehabilitation (after the accident), there were two or three people that were driving in our team, so it never really slipped my mind. As soon as I had enough strength, I jumped into the first car I could get.” For Nikhil, the allure of motorsport transcends physical limitations. It is a realm where passion knows no bounds and where the thrill of the race eclipses all obstacles. With each turn of the wheel, he defies stereotypes and challenges perceptions, proving that disability is not a deterrent but a testament to the indomitable human spirit.

As the countdown to the Safari Rally continues, Nikhil and his navigator Deep Patel remain focused on the task at hand, fueled by the support of their sponsors and the excitement of competing on the international stage.

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