The KCB Kenya National Rally Championship has received a major financial boost from local and international sponsors to revamp the sport’s technical and communication departments to match World Rally Championship (WRC) standards.
The Kenya Motorsports Federation (KMSF) is proud to announce that it has received a technical grant of Euros 125,000 (Ksh14.2 million) and another Euros 50,000 (Ksh5.5 million) which will go towards procuring a top- of- the- range communication system.
This is after FIA President Jean Todt visited Kenya last year when FIA restored technical links which had deteriorated over the years since the Safari lost its WRC status in 2002.
Todt, a former Safari navigator, accompanied by KMSF directors Phineas Kimathi and Jassy Rai, also held talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta on what Kenya should do to stage a WRC candidate Safari in 2017 with a view of returning to the World Series by 2018.
Part of the Safari’s problems with FIA was lack of sponsorship, poor timing system and safety.
Liquid Telecom is now the second biggest KNRC sponsor after title sponsor KCB, whose sponsorship dates back to 2004 and stands at Ksh45 million this year. Liquid’s sponsorship will also include a new timing system, an upgrade from the current analogue clocks.
KMSF has also welcomed on board leading global energy drink brand Red Bull which is offering financial and products sponsorship in line with their global brand equity strategy in emerging markets in the Kenyan situation by using motorsport as the ideal platform, according to Red Bull marketing executive.
Red Bull is the official sponsors of the VW Polo WRC team and rallying events in the Middle East.
Red Bull marketing executive Viena Mukabana said during the launch of the KCB Kisumu Rally on Tuesday in Nairobi that they have decided to join the motoring fraternity in line with their global marketing orientation.
During the launch KMSF director-in-charge of finance and sponsorship Phineas Kimathi also announced that Toyota are now the new route opening car sponsor using the yet to hit Kenyan market Subaru BRZ, a cross breed between Toyota and Subaru and a joint collaboration between Toyota Motor Corporation and Fuji Heavy Industries of Japan.
The Toyota BRZ will be rally- prepared here in Kenya and tested to rally specs by the former Kenya National Rally Champion Baldev Charger who said this would be a great honour.
KMSF hopes the Toyota BRZ venture will offer technical feedback and rekindle interest in the Safari especially now that Toyota have announced their return back to the WRC using the Toyota Yaris with the team being managed by former Safari champion Tomi Makinen of Finland.
KMSF is indeed very happy with the entry of these premium sponsors who now join KCB to promote rallying which now ranks first in terms of spectator attendance but only rivalled by Gor V AFC derbies.
Motorsport has enjoyed tremendous growth in the last two years since the new KMSF board took office and created a synergy in the four committees of finance, technical, sponsorship and management. The federation has also moved its headquarters to Simba Union Club where there is enough office space and parking from a residential house in Riverside Drive, Chiromo.
This has seen an increase of participants in the KNRC averaging 50 drivers per event which the FIA Africa representative Surinder Thathi said portends good for Kenya. “I have just come from South Africa where their biggest rally, the Sasol Rally attracted only 25 entrants,” said Thathi during the Kisumu rally launch.
KMSF has also introduced new National Competition Rules (NRC) which have pegged 50 percent of the KNRC routes to pass through closed roads in private land for safety purposes. In last year’s Safari through five counties, KMSF achieved a 90 percent race. The goal is to reach the 100 percent target in next year’s Safari.