It was fortunate then that he got off to the best possible start, winning the Mombassa Rally in emphatic fashion. He ended up 1 minute and 48 seconds ahead of the field at this four-stage, 113.4-kilometre long event. This was the first ever victory on African soil for the ŠKODA brand and it was also a first career victory for Baryan.  It was a result which would also set the scene for the rest of his season.

But it wasn’t all to be plain sailing for Baryan. He did not compete in the opening round of the African Rally Championship, the Rallye Bandama - Côte d'Ivoire. His next event was the Safari Rally, a Kenyan event, which was the second round of both series, where he would end up in ninth place overall.

Manvir Singh Baryan / Drew Sturrock, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Multiple Racing Team. Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally 2017 (Foto: Kigali today)
Manvir Singh Baryan / Drew Sturrock, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Multiple Racing Team. Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally 2017 (Photo: Kigali today)

That result was somewhat artificial however, as Baryan incurred a 10-minute penalty, without which he would have been pushing for an overall podium place. However, his time was still fast enough to secure third place in the ARC standings and this positive result, plus the fact that the bulk of the rest of the championship was being held in East Africa, appears to have convinced him to continue in the ARC.

Next up for Baryan were two more Kenyan Rally Championship events. He finished in fifth position at the Eldoret Rally, but then took victory at the RSC Rally in Nairobi by a comfortable margin of 43 seconds, despite suffering three punctures along the way. Both events gave him valuable time in the ŠKODA FABIA R5 and undoubtedly fuelled the winning run that was to follow.

Having sat out the third round of the African Rally Championship, which was the York Rally in South Africa, Baryan was back for the Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally. He delivered a dominant performance winning eight of the ten special stages and leading from start to finish. The eventual margin of victory was a huge 9 minutes and 51 seconds. Baryan made a history, because it was the first ever ŠKODA’s win in the African Rally Championship.