HARARE – Despite being without a single point after the first two rounds of the FIA African Rally Championship (ARC), defending champions Mohammed Essa and Greg Stead are not throwing in the towel just yet.
The Zambian driver and his Zimbabwe co-driver are still optimistic of catching up in the remaining six legs.
The duo has not had the best of starts after failing to be part of the first round of action in last month’s Rally Bandama Ivory Coast due to logistical complications.
Their season took a bad turn last week at the second round of the continental rallying championship after they crashed out of the Sasol Rally just 5 kilometres into the first stage.
This was after their Subaru Impreza N12B developed a fault in the early stages, expelling their chances of starting their defence title on a positive note.
“Rallying throws curve balls at you when you least expect it, these things happen,” Stead said in apparent reference to the dismal start of their defence campaign.
“We are thankful Mohammed and I were not hurt in last weekend’s incident.”
Though the pair head into next month’s Puma Energy Zambia International Rally, the third round of the ARC campaign, reeling at the bottom end of the ARC standings, they will certainly draw inspiration from their last outing in that country last year.
It was in the Zambia Rally last season that Essa and Stead opened up a 27-point en route to lifting their first African title.
And Stead believes replicating that form on the weekend of May17-19 will go a long way in settling the nerves.
“Our next event is Zambia, we have the new car for that event and it is Mohammed’s home event. We are fairly confident,” he said.
“We need to collect good points in the following two rallies to settle ourselves. Once that is done, we will tackle the next section,” he added.
South Africa’s Ivorian Eric Pages and Jan Habig currently lead the ARC standings with 25 points.