Jassy Singh - Zambia's Rally Prodigy
By Naliaka Wafula Imende
Dust swirls amid cheers from the people surrounding the track as a white Subaru N10 speeds past. The cars careen from side to side as they take bends and race down narrow murram roads; this is pure adrenalin for the spectators but a tough exhilarating sport for the drivers.
For Jassy Muna Singh winner of the 2013 Africa rally championships, racing is something that has always been part of his life. He started racing in 2010 and in just five years he has managed to win several championships including the Zambian International Rally this year. For Singh, racing is a family affair, a tradition that has carried forward from generation to generation. In fact a perfect Sunday for them is hanging out at the workshop and fiddling with their cars.
“ My grandfather used to rally, my grand uncle, aunt, my whole family is one way or another a rally driver, rally navigator, rally organiser or anything, basically it’s in our blood,” said Singh during an interview with XOA in Lusaka Zambia. Singh’s father, winner of the 2003/2004 Africa Rally Championship Muna Singh, has played a big role in both he and his brother’s (Muna Singh Juniour) rallying career. “He showed us the ropes has been racing since he was 20, so for a good 30 to 40 years he’s been racing.”
A rally passion
“I originally started with a VW Golf 2-wheel drive, I won both years in my class championships in my third year I moved to a Subaru N10 similar to the one my brother is driving now and I won the Zambian Championships” said Singh. Keeping the car in tiptop shape is of utmost importance during the race and it is this team that Singh praises. “This sport is much more complex than people would think, all the praise goes to the driver but the driver is the least in terms of the winning,” said Singh.
According to Singh, a good and well-oiled team is the key to winning. “If your team is not well prepared or does not prepare your car very well, are not fully prepared on the rally day or if you come in with a problem and they take ten minutes to change a shock or a tyre then you go out late,” he explained.
Each member of the team plays a crucial role in a rally driver’s success. The service crew are in charge of maintenance and repairs; they are usually given just 20 minutes to fix a car. The navigator who can also be referred tot as the co-driver, helps when it comes to controlling and planning as well as calculating tactics and manoeuvres on the road. They will also take over driving if the driver becomes incapacitated in any way. The team manager, according to Singh, organises everything, he or she also chooses the type of tyres and amount of fuel needed to keep the car light but sufficiently fuelled for the race..
As a sport, rally driving has grown in popularity through the years, and the corporates are taking notice. “ We have many sponsors coming on board who are sponsoring events, sponsoring the team and it’s really, really boosting” said Singh. For Singh though, the love for racing tops any type of endorsement and is what can mean the difference between winning and losing. “If you do any sport that you love then you will definitely go to greater heights,” he said.
Photography by Faisal Umer