Rallying flows in DNA of the Tundos
Rally ace Carl Tundo etched his name in sports history books by being the first Kenyan to win the Safari Rally twice in a row in 2011 and 2012.
Fondly known as Flash by his fans, Tundo refers himself as a “normal guy.”
Of Italian descent he was born in Maralal in 1973 where he was raised on a farm. Being a large, open ground, he and his father, Frank, would cruise around on motorcycles for fun.
“One of my fondest memories was sitting at the back as my father’s car was being serviced during the good, old Safari Rally. Back, then the rally was traditionally held over the Easter weekend,” said Tundo.
It was then that he made up his mind to follow in his father’s footsteps by taking up rallying. So focused was Tundo that he followed his old man to every rally event, in a bid to pick up tips.
In 1995, he made his rally debut after acquiring a Subaru Leon, which enabled him take part in a few circuits.
However, Tundo’s big break came in 2003 when fellow driver Rob Hellier lent him and Ian Duncan a Datsun 120J to take part in the Safari Rally.
They finished seventh and won praise from other participants who predicted a great future for the pair. They were not wrong as the following year Tundo returned to win the Safari Rally navigated by Tim Jessop.
“To this day, that is the most memorable moment in my career,” added Flash.
He came second in the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) in 2005, a ranking that left a bitter taste in his mouth as he insists Azar Anwar was crowned winner under dubious circumstances as there were three rounds left in the calendar.
‘Flash’ has since recovered, winning the Safari Rally three times in four years, in 2009, 2011 and 2012. He has developed a strange love-hate relationship with Ian Duncan and Alastair Cavenagh, whom he describes as very close friends but very big rivals.
“We are good friends but the interesting thing about rallying is at whatever stage you’re at, there’s always someone that becomes your rival,” he added.
Tundo had the rare privilege of going up against his father in a race, a thing that many sportsmen dream of but only a handful achieve.
The two faced off during the 2012 Guru Nanak Rally in which Carl won the title while his father finished seventh.
Interestingly the father was navigated by Carl’s sister, Tashi. He values that race, as it unexpectedly turned into a family affair.
Tundo has had his fair share of accidents that have left him with both laughs and disappointment.
“Tim and I hit a tree during one of the races and the car rolled into a shallow puddle. In the confusion, Tim saw the water and thought he was about to drown. He took to his legs and when we eventually caught up with him, he didn’t know where he was running to or even where he had come from. In his defence he said he may have had a concussion. I have footage to that effect,” he said.
Rallying, however, is just part of the things he enjoys doing. When he isn’t Flash, he is Mr Carl Tundo, the managing director of Lesiolo Grain Handlers.
He said between the two, one is a profession and the other is a hobby, therefore it is easy to balance them.
“One of those is more fun than the other, I have been accused of spending more time on it. My job obviously,” he joked.
Flash, who has learnt to juggle roles, is married to Chania, and their son Billy is one year old. He has another past-time — Flash enjoys playing golf to relax, and he has a mini-golf course at his Maralal home.