Motor rallying...and Shakhar Mehta and his wife Yvonne drove to one of their biggest successes?
Motor rallying...and Shakhar Mehta and his wife Yvonne drove to one of their biggest successes yet when they won this year's Kuwait International Rally which finished on Friday (9 March). But second place for the Swedish pair of Harry Kallstrom and Claes Bilstam, also in a Datsun, was enough to give them victory in the overall Middle East Rally Challenge.
SYNOPSIS: The cars were flagged off at the start by the Secretary-General to the Kuwaiti cabinet, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al Otaibi. First off was the works Datsun 160J of Swedes Harry Kallstrom and Claes Bilstam. They were successful in the Qatar and Bahrain rounds of the Middle East Challenge.
Second away from the water towers in Kuwait city was the works Renault 5 Alpine of former French rallycross champion Jean Ragnotti and co-driver Jean Marc Andrie, which was specially shipped in from France. Husband and wife teams have a rich traditional in motor rallying. Shakhtar Mehta and his wife Yvonne took second place in October's Qatar rally.
The vastly experienced team of Kallstrom and Bilstam was in front for most of the 17 stages in the two-day rally. But Mehta's Datsun was gradually making up time even though he nearly hit some camels during one of the night st ages. Ragnotti's Renault which finished third never recovered the time lost on the first day with shock absorber trouble.
This Hyundai Pony gave spectators some nervous moments when the driver momentarily lost control on the brow of a hill. In the final hours of the twelve hundred and fifty kilometres (775 miles) event Mehta's Datsun took the lead as the Swedes realised they only needed to complete the course to become overall winners.
At the finish, forty-nine seconds separated the two Datsuns. The series has boosted the company's image in the Middle East. Much of the glory went to the Swedish pair of Kallstrom and Bilstam, but victory in Kuwait also took the Mehtas to an overall second place.