Shekhar Mehta - Driver Profile

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Shekhar Mehta Career Summary

Shekhar Mehta was of Indian origin but Uganda born and living partly in Kenya and in the UK. Is less confusing than it sounds. The Mehta family was one of the many Indians that moved to East Africa in British colony times to build the Mombasa to Uganda railway. Therafter the Mehta family had a tea plantation in Uganda's capital Kampala, which is where Shekhar was born. However when dictator Idi Amin ran Uganda and deported many Indians, the Mehta family left their plantation and moved to close by Kenya, where Shekhar started first a petrol station. In coming years this petrol station turned car dealership, turned East Africa's Subaru importer, which only is one example that Shekhar did things thorrowly and cleverly.

From a competition point of view, it is interesting that his career started with Peugeot and ended with Peugeot, yet his name is most synonymous with Datsun/Nissan in such a strong way that it is easily overlooked just what a legendary range of works cars he got his hands on. But he could also be a controversial character. He did not win points with manufacturers and fans for strongly airing his believe "To be a good rally driver you can't love cars, you must hate them!" and also more than one co-driver and observer complained at Mehta's weird driving style "This guy brakes in the corners, not before them". I.e. British journalist and navigator Garry Phillips explained a very nasty, near fatal crash with Mehta in a Datsun 240Z in Morrocco 1973: "He can't corner nor brake, the only rally Shekhar will ever be good at is a wet Safari". Indeed Shekhar Mehta won 5 WRC events, all of them Safaris and all in Datsuns!

Yet there is far more to his career. His first event was the Safari 1967 in a Peugeot 204 and he won group2 immediately. This win maybe meant even more since Mehta was in 1 of 6 Marshalls (East African Peugeot importer) entered Peugeot 204 S. These cars took the top6 places in group2, so Shekhar's debut win was against reliable opposition in identical machinery! In 1973 he then won the Safari outright in a Datsun Fairlady 240Z (with Lofty Drews) and between 1979 and 1982 he won the Safari 4 times in a row in Datsun Violet 160J (all with Mike Doughty). Later Mehta was the most regular driver in Nissan's group B Silvia 240RS and his last WRC event was also in a Nissan, in 1987 a groupA Silvia 200SX. If not Nissan/Datsun, the next brand to be synonymous for Shekhar Mehta would be Subaru, because Shekhar was the East African Subaru importer. But incredibly in that position Shekhar only ever once actually rallied a Subaru: in the 1984 Rallye Monte Carlo in a sole Koseki/STI works car, where he finished a disappointing 14th. Outside of Africa Shekhar was usually slower than his team mates, yet his career shows a most unbelievable selection of cars - didn't he hate cars? In 1974 Lancia had a strange year, rallying no less than 3 entirely different types of cars in the year the Stratos debuted. In that season Shekhar got his hands on a Fulvia for the Safari and in San Remo he started in a Beta Coupé, navigated by yet another famous journalist, Martin Holmes, and Safari 1975 he was once again in the Beta. Also the Opel works team called him up to drive the Ascona 400 on the Acropolis 1980. In Argentina 1983 Audi entered 4 of their legendary Quattro and took the top4 places, it was Shekhar driving the 4th placed works Quattro! And in Safari 1986 Shekhar Mehta drove the all conquering Peugeot 205 T16. On this occasion he was a disappointing 8th, beaten by 2 groupA Subarus - or was that intentionally since Mehta was the Kenyan Subaru importer at that time? Nevertheless, when Peugeot took on a raid program with the groupB ban in 1987, Mehta became a permanent part of a Peugeot team that soon involved names as Ari Vatanen, Michèle Mouton, Kalle Grundel, Andrea Zanussi, Timo Salonen, Juha Kankkunen, Björn Waldegaard, Henri Pescarolo, Guy Fréquelin, to name just a few. In this Peugeot program Mehta came 5th in Dakar 87 and 4th on Pikes Peak, but in a massive roll on the Pharaohs Raid in Egypt Mehta sustained career ending injuries.

From now on outside the cockpit did not mean rallying had lost Mehta. He was always close to the sport. Shekhar Mehta got married to Yvonne Pratt, a Kenyan rally co-driver. In following years Yvonne was often navigating Shekhar at World level, but incredibly never on the Safari! Long after his active career ended, in 1997 Shekhar Mehta became president of the world rallies commission. Here his decissions have rarely been famous, but to be fair it is possible these were not always his ideas and decissions, he maybe was the man having to sell other forces' unpopular decissions to the public - which is what made his successor at the position, Jacques Regis, throw in the towel within a few months. Or do you think Mehta enjoyed telling the public that there is no room for Safari in an extended WRC? Mehta himself never seemed to lose his enthusiasm and contact to the sport all the way down the line. His last active appearance at the sport was to be a time keeper at a field time control on the non-WRC East African Safari Rally 2003!

Some report his death on 12th April 2006 came as a surprise and is linked down to his 1987 Pharaohs raid crash. Without details being public on the exact nature of his illness, it seemed he was suffering for some time and he was not seen on official occasions for the last year or so.

Shekhar Mehta Career Statistics


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Rally Honour Roll

Year Class Place Driver
1987 WRC Group A 18th. Shekhar. Mehta (18pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

1986 WRC Group B 66th. Shekhar. Mehta (3pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

1985 WRC Group B 66th. Shekhar. Mehta (20pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

1984 WRC Group B 66th. Shekhar. Mehta (28pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

1983 WRC Open 66th. Shekhar. Mehta (26pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

1982 WRC Open 66th. Shekhar. Mehta (30pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

1981 WRC Open 66th. Shekhar. Mehta (55pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

1980 WRC Open 66th. Shekhar. Mehta (30pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

1979 WRC Open 10th. Shekhar. Mehta (20pts)
Open 10th. Shekhar. Mehta (20pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

Career Results :

Pos Event Co-Driver # Vehicle Rego
8th. 1987 WRC USA Olympus Rally R. Combes #9 Nissan Silvia 200SX  [UNKNOWN]
2nd. 1987 WRC Bandama Rallye R. Combes #10 Nissan Silvia 200SX  [UNKNOWN]
8th. 1986 WRC Safari Rally R. Combes #6 Peugeot 205 T16 E2 [UNKNOWN]
4th. 1985 WRC Acropolis Rally Y. Mehta #4 Nissan Silvia 240RS ET [UNKNOWN]
4th. 1985 WRC Rally Argentina Y. Mehta #2 Nissan Silvia 240RS  [UNKNOWN]
14th. 1984 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo Y. Mehta #11 Subaru Leone  [UNKNOWN]
5th. 1984 WRC Safari Rally R. Combes #2 Nissan Silvia 240RS  [UNKNOWN]
7th. 1984 WRC Acropolis Rally Y. Mehta #8 Nissan Silvia 240RS  [UNKNOWN]
3rd. 1984 WRC Bandama Rallye R. Combes #2 Nissan Silvia 240RS  [UNKNOWN]
7th. 1984 WRC Rally of Great Britain Y. Mehta #10 Nissan Silvia 240RS  [UNKNOWN]
6th. 1983 WRC Acropolis Rally Y. Mehta #10 Nissan Silvia 240RS  [UNKNOWN]
4th. 1983 WRC Rally New Zealand Y. Mehta #6 Nissan Silvia 240RS  [UNKNOWN]
4th. 1983 WRC Rally Argentina Y. Mehta #3 Audi Quattro  [UNKNOWN]
1st. 1982 WRC Safari Rally M. Doughty #1 Nissan Violet 160J GT [UNKNOWN]
4th. 1982 WRC Acropolis Rally Y. Mehta #12 Nissan Violet 160J GT [UNKNOWN]
1st. 1981 WRC Safari Rally M. Doughty #7 Nissan Violet 160J GT [UNKNOWN]
5th. 1981 WRC Acropolis Rally Y. Mehta #10 Nissan Violet 160J PA10 [UNKNOWN]
2nd. 1981 WRC Rally Argentina Y. Mehta #1 Nissan Violet 160J GT [UNKNOWN]
3rd. 1981 WRC Bandama Rallye M. Doughty #6 Nissan Violet 160J GT [UNKNOWN]
1st. 1980 WRC Safari Rally M. Doughty #1 Nissan Violet 160J  [UNKNOWN]
4th. 1980 WRC Rally Argentina Y. Mehta #1 Nissan Violet 160J  [UNKNOWN]
1st. 1979 WRC Safari Rally M. Doughty #9 Nissan Violet 160J  [UNKNOWN]
3rd. 1978 WRC Acropolis Rally Y. Mehta #12 Nissan Violet 160J  [UNKNOWN]
3rd. 1976 WRC Acropolis Rally H. Liddon #5 Nissan Bluebird 180B KP710 [UNKNOWN]
6th. 1975 WRC Rally Morocco . UNKNOWN #5 Nissan Bluebird 180B KP710 [UNKNOWN]
7th. 1975 WRC Rallye de Portugal Y. Mehta #7 Nissan Bluebird 180B KP710 [UNKNOWN]
11th. 1974 WRC Safari Rally M. Doughty #7 Lancia Fulvia  [UNKNOWN]
4th. 1974 WRC Rallye San Remo M. Holmes #14 Lancia Beta Coupé  [UNKNOWN]
1st. 1973 WRC Safari Rally L. Drews #1 Nissan Fairlady (Z) 240Z [UNKNOWN]
37th. 1973 WRC Rally of Great Britain . UNKNOWN #27 _others_ _ancient_ Nissan Sunny 120Y [UNKNOWN]

Career Retirements :

Pos Event Co-Driver # Vehicle Rego Reason
Ret. 1987 WRC Acropolis Rally Y. Mehta #11 Nissan Silvia 200SX  [UNKNOWN] SS10 suspension
Ret. 1987 WRC Safari Rally R. Combes #12 Nissan Silvia 200SX  [UNKNOWN] SS6 suspension
Ret. 1985 WRC Rally New Zealand Y. Mehta #7 Nissan Silvia 240RS  [UNKNOWN] SS24 electrics
Ret. 1985 WRC Safari Rally R. Combes #4 Nissan Silvia 240RS ET [UNKNOWN] SS65 crash
Ret. 1983 WRC Safari Rally R. Combes #4 Nissan Silvia 240RS  [UNKNOWN] SS24 engine (camshaft)
Ret. 1982 WRC Rallye do Brazil Y. Mehta #4 Nissan Silvia Violet GTS [UNKNOWN] SS24 engine
Ret. 1982 WRC Rally New Zealand Y. Mehta #6 Nissan Violet 160J GT [UNKNOWN] SS22 crash
Ret. 1981 WRC Rallye do Brazil Y. Mehta #3 Nissan Violet 160J GT [UNKNOWN] SS10 engine
Ret. 1980 WRC Bandama Rallye M. Doughty #3 Nissan Violet 160J  [UNKNOWN] SS45 crash
Ret. 1980 WRC Acropolis Rally Y. Mehta #9 Opel Ascona (B)  [UNKNOWN] SS30 suspension
Ret. 1978 WRC Bandama Rallye M. Doughty #6 Opel Ascona (B)  [UNKNOWN] SS7 camshaft
Ret. 1978 WRC Safari Rally M. Doughty #11 Nissan Violet 160J PA10 [UNKNOWN] SS99 engine
Ret. 1977 WRC Safari Rally M. Doughty #5 Nissan Bluebird 180B KP710 [UNKNOWN] SS99 engine
Ret. 1976 WRC Safari Rally M. Doughty #5 Nissan Bluebird 180B KP710 [UNKNOWN] SS99 crash
Ret. 1975 WRC Safari Rally M. Doughty #2 Lancia Beta Coupé  [UNKNOWN] SS99 suspension
Ret. 1973 WRC Rally Morocco G. Phillips #5 Nissan Fairlady (Z) 240Z [UNKNOWN] SS99 crash
Ret. 1973 WRC Rally of Finland . UNKNOWN #6 Nissan Fairlady (Z) 240Z [UNKNOWN] SS32 engine

Information may not be complete and should be used as a guide only.

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