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Zambia's Muna Singh Wins Dunlop Challenge

HARARE, June 10 - Muna Singh and Dave Sihoka have won the 2004 Dunlop Zimbabwe Challenge Rally, the first Zambians to win Zimbabwe's most prestigious motorsport event since it was taken in 1990 by the "Flying Sikh" Satwant Singh, that year partnered by Surinder Thatthi of Kenya.

Singh and Sihoka led a field of 14 finishers to take home the title in the three-day event, which took place in and around Harare from Friday June 4 to Sunday June 6.

Driving a Subaru Impreza, the pair also won the Group N and Class N4 trophies, as well as achieving full points for the Challenge as a leg of the FIA African Rally Championship and of the 2004 Zim-Zam Series.

Zimbabweans took second and third places, with Craig Green and Mike Exton bringing their Toyota Corolla into second place and first place in Class N2 and Richard Robinson and Colin Schreiber, also in a Toyota Corolla, taking third place, as well as first position in Group S and Class S11.

On Friday a strong field of 26 vehicles started the rally, which went on to prove disappointing for South Africa's Schalk Burger, a former Challenge winner, who retired with punctures on Saturday. Also retiring were Uganda's Riyaz Kurji and Kadri Sayed (broken suspension), Zimbabwe's favourites, Jess Watson and Dave Milner (drive shaft), James Whyte and Phil Archenoul (suspension problems), Namibia's Richard Himmel and Adolf Botes (rolled the vehicle), Zambians Paul Monge and Ray Thornicroft (wheel stud problems), the all-female South African team of Lola and Megan Verlaque ( fuel leak), Steve Lauderdale and Gareth Dawe (accident), John Zanin and Rodney Kilpert (suspension problems), Carl Peters and Malcolm Thornicroft (engine failure), Kenny Mukosa and Nash Chisenga of Zambia (engine failure) and Richard Exton and Eric White (gearbox problems).

Said Sables Motor Club chairman Craig Batten: "This was the best Zimbabwe Challenge to date and our thanks must go to everyone involved, especially our sponsor, Dunlop Zimbabwe, which channelled $120 million into the event and have now been principal sponsor for seven consecutive years."

The clerk of the course, Ralph Stead, presented the Merit Award to the Ugandan pair of Kurji and Sayed, who had put up a brave and sustained performance until being forced to retire.

The 2004 Dunlop Challenge saw competitors spend day one at Donnybrook in Harare, with a full day in the Norton area on day two and sections in Westgate, the Arcturus area and at Donnybrook on Sunday.

Final classification (Zimbabwe unless otherwise stated):

1 Muna Singh and Dave Shihoka (Zambia - Subaru Impreza);

2 Craig Green and Mike Exton (Toyota Corolla);

3 Richard Robinson and Colin Schreiber (Toyota Corolla);

4 Khalid Essa and Ajit Naik (Zambia - Mitsubishi Evo 6 );

5 Abdalla Hamad and Lastone Chulu (Zambia - Subaru Impreza);

6 Steve Atwell and Adam Wood (Audi Quattro);

7 Trevor Gilbert and Darren Keates (Mazda Familia);

8 Shaun Whyte and Clyde Uys (Toyota Corolla);

9 Kevin Cooper and Scot Gobey (Toyota Conquest);

10 James Alexander and Gary Kirk (Land Rover);

11 Charles Kapya and Abel Nyakunzu (Zambia - Nissan Champ);

12 Leigh Davidson and Alan Simpson (Toyota Land Cruiser);

13 Anthony Brant and Michael Tastard (Toyota Levin); 14, Gordon Mackay and Amos Chamunokara (Zambia - Mazda Rustler).

1 Muna Singh and Dave Sihoka (Zambia);

2 Craig Green and Mike Exton (Zimbabwe);

3 Khalid Essa and Ajit Naik (Zambia);

4 Abdalla Hamad and Lastone Chulu (Zambia),

5 Shaun Whyte and Clyde Uys (Zimbabwe).

Fastest time in a super special stage at Donnybrook: Schalk Burger and Richard Leeke of South Africa (Subaru Impreza).

Highest placed co-driver in his first international rally: Alan Simpson.

First placed Sables Motor Club members: Craig Green and Mike Exton.

As always with a leg of the FIA African Rally Championship, international experts attended as stewards and observers: Diether Kok of South Africa was chairman of the FIA Stewards; Surinder Thatthi of Kenya was FIA Steward; Rose Rushforth was Zimbabwe's Steward; Peter Hughes of Kenya was FIA Observer; Jerry Bailey of South Africa was FIA Technical delegate.

Next up on the Zimbabwean national rally championship calendar will be the Enterprise Rally on July 24, while the next event in the Zim-Zam Series will be a rally in Zimbabwe (probably Penhalonga area) on August 21. The next FIA African Rally Championship event will be the Zambian national rally from July 2 to 4.

Source: Financial Gazette / allAfrica Global Media

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