The Cabinet Secretary for Sports Dr Amina Mohamed has reiterated government’s commitment to delivering a high calibre World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally scheduled for June 23-26.
The event which will see hybrid cars make their debut for the first time since they were introduced in the World Rally Championship last year will be presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday and Amina is confident Kenya will host an exceptional global spectacle.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ruling admnistration through the Local Organising committee has put in much work in terms of preparing this championship. High profile international drivers are set to take part alongside our local based participants who are ready to offer much needed competition and deliver glory on home soil. This would be uniquely an excellent competition which President himself has been keenly following to ensure everything is in place ahead of the kick off on Thursday at KICC” she confidently stated.
The FIA World Rally Championship returned to the African continent on Kenyan soil for the first time in nearly 20 years, when round six of the 2021 season took place in June and CS believes this will be a good opportunity for Kenya to market itself to the outside as a tourist destination nation.
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She has remained optimistic that the iconic rally which has attracted 18 crews including the former Safari Rally and Kenya National Rally Championship champion Carl Tundo and his navigator Tim Jessop will see home based drivers post impressive results.
“The Safari Rally is at the heart of our national heritage. It is a reflection of our resilience and love of the game that identifies Kenya’s capacity as a top tourist and sporting destination .The head of state is a great supporter of Rally and ahead of his exit from office in August our representatives in the competition will put up a gallant performance to give him a befitting send-off ” added the CS.
The FIA World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanperä was fastest on Wednesday morning’s shakedown as drivers got acclimatised with the classic African roads.
Last year’s Safari winner Sébastien Ogier was fastest out of the blocks with his GR Yaris before Rovanperä posted the benchmark time on his second run. The Finn, like many of the drivers, believes conditions will be even more challenging than in 2021.
“It seems that this year the rally will be even tougher,” he explained. “I was not expecting such rough conditions like we saw on the recce and the roads are even more soft than last year.
“I think, in some places, it might be good to be the first car on the road here. Of course, we will have some cleaning in some sections, but that is not the biggest place where you can lose time here.
“We had rain on one stage in the recce, but the road didn’t really get wet for us. Everybody says that [if it rains] it’s extremely slippery, and I have seen some onboards. It’s crazy when it gets wet, so I don’t really know what to expect,” he added
The Safari of old has evolved to fit the modern-day WRC, but its character remains with challenging closed dirt roads, stunning picture-postcard scenery and exotic wildlife. Competitors can expect rocky and rutted tracks and unpredictable weather which could transform dry and dusty trails into glutinous mudbaths.