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Youngster Anwar steps on big stage in Rally Sweden



Youngster Anwar steps on big stage in Rally Sweden

Fast-rising Kenyan driver Hamza Anwar will make his debut at the Junior World Rally Championship Rally Sweden on Thursday.

The high-speed, fun-filled, thrilling, action-packed and snow-covered rally will be held in the industrial and technical hub of Umea where temperatures have dipped to freezing point.

The 24-year-old Kenyan, driving a Ford Fiesta R3, will be out to score points in two categories; the Junior WRC and the Rally3.

He has used a similar car back at home in selected Kenya National Rally Championship events in the last two years.

The Junior WRC nominees — all regional champions in various continents — are seen as the star drivers of the future.

The FIA Junior World Rally Championship, also known as JWRC — is an international rallying competition restricted to drivers under 29 years old.

Last season, another Kenyan crew of McRae Kimathi and Mwangi Kioni represented Africa in the junior competition and finished fifth overall.

Anwar has quickly learnt that competing abroad is a completely different ballgame compared to racing in Kenya.

“I have seen too much to explain. It is all still registering,” said awestruck Anwar as he recalled the biting cold temperatures and strict work ethics of the Ford M-Sport Poland team which will be in charge of the five cars entered in the Junior WRC.

“I have learnt many lessons that I have lost count.”

Complete recce

Anwar, navigated by Adnan Din, completed the recce in a standard SUV.

The junior championship was introduced in 2001 and has produced three notable drivers in the WRC Premier League — eight-time world champion and former WRC Safari Rally champion Sebastien Ogier, Graig Breen and Dani Sordo.

Leading the R3 field is Finnish rookie Roope Korhonen, who will be looking to build on his debut at last year’s Rally Estonia where he notched up 10 stage wins.

He will face tough competition from the likes of William Creighton, who, like several other drivers, is also undertaking an FIA Junior WRC programme this season.

Adding to the excitement is the French presence represented by Laurent Pellier, who has been making waves in recent years.

The 27-year-old dominated last year’s Junior European Rally Championship (ERC) series, earning himself a place in this year’s Junior WRC. He is eager to show his skills as he graduates to the world stage behind the wheel of an unfamiliar car.

Toni Herranen, also from Finland, is another ERC graduate. Technical woes on his WRC3 debut in 2022 denied Herranen a podium finish on home soil and he wants to make amends. Compatriot Jesse Kallio, 23, and Czech Republic’s Filip Kohn are both newcomers to the series.

Eamonn Kelly of Ireland, Tom Rensonnet of Belgium and Anwar of Kenya round out the field, bringing a truly international flavour to the competition.

The trio will also be fighting for points in the FIA Junior WRC series, which kicks off this week.

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