Tributes have poured in after Safari Rally legend Jayant Shah who died in Nairobi aged 78 years. The Arusha based industrialist died on Sunday morning after a short illness.
Jayant was an avid participant of East African Classic Car events in a Porsche 911. He ruled the roost in the 1980s when he won several rallies including the Himalayan Rally.
During his glory days he sat with legendary Safari navigators including Aslam Khan,, Mike Doughty and Lofty Drews who later migrated to Australia.
Jayant won the Kenya National Rally Championship title three times in a row twice driving a Datsun PA 10 in 1982 and 1983 as well as 1984 In a Nissan 240RS.
He jointly won the Kenya Motor Sport Personality of the year award with Aslam Khan in 1982, the days he drove like a man possessed.
Jayant last competed in the 2020 Arusha Guru Nanak Rally and finished 10th navigated by Haria Shahil in his Porsche 911.
He also competed in a nurmber of World Rally Championship (WRC) events and savored some credible finishes more so on the iconic Safari Rally.
FIA African representative Surinfer Thatthi condoled with the family of the deaeased saying he treated the African racing scene to some exhilarating displays.
Surinder said: “Its a big loss to all of Africa. Our sincere condolences to Jayant Shah’s family and Tanzanian governing body AAT and the continental body, CACMS . We will miss this successful driver for his cockpit exploits over 4 decades.”
Africa Rally Championship’s FIA technical delegate Viren Goricha, on his part said: “We will all miss Jayant for his driving antics and never-say-never attitude towards the rally sport. At his old age he would never shirk from racing. I serviced him in Tanzania and Zimbabwe and I must admit it was a great experience. A Vary close friend.”
In 1988, Jayant finished 3rd in the Zambia International Rally with Drews in a Nissan 200 SX. He also finished third in the 1987 edition of Himalayan Rally also with Drews.
Jayant won the 1987 Zimbabwe Challenge Rally with Drews in his Nissan. He won the 1985 Himalayan Rally wirh Khan Aslam in a Nissan 240. The same year he contested WRC Rally of Argentina with Drews and finished 7th.
He also did Rothmans Acropolis Rally with Mike Doughty in a Nissan 240 RS and finished 14th. He fished 5th in the 1982 Marlboro Safari Rally with Aslam Khan in a
Nissan 160 J.
In 1981 he finished 8th in the Marlboro Safari Rally teaming up with Ramir Rishad in a Datsun 160J. Mombasa Motor Club (MMC) Chairman Roy McKenzie paid tribute to the fallen rally legend.
McKenzie: ‘His team was very organized and he had some serious mechanics. Jayant was always very keen and enthusiastic about motorsport. Behind all that he was a decent guy. He drove hard finishing KNRC events in credible positions. He was a likeable man in and outside the cockpit. In the car, he developed a penchant for always pushing hard. His cars were ex Safari works. mechanics.”
In his heydays, Jayant was mainly in Kenya. But when he got older he spent more time in Tanzania. Jayant became more relaxed with age and travelled all over the world. He had many businesses.