Plans are at an advanced stage for Kenya to host the iconic Safari rally which is making a return to the WRC as one of the 12 legs on the World Rally calendar in 2021.
This was boosted by the visit of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) President Jean Todt, who officially launched the WRC Safari Rally Greening Legacy Project by planting the first of projected 19 million trees at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
The Safari rally was regarded as one of motorsport’s most prestigious and celebrated events of its time, before the leg lost its status in 2002 and Todt lauded preparations so far saying the Country is progressing well in getting ready for the rally.
“It feels great being in this beautiful country again. Am impressed with how Kenya is gearing up for the upcoming leg in terms of preparations and everything associated with the success of the sport,the support for the Safari Rally is massive and the tree planting idea initiated by Safari Rally and the Government of Kenya does good to the environment of the country”,Todt said.
Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic,the return of Safari Rally Kenya to the FIA World Rally Championship was delayed until 2021 following agreement between the FIA, WRC Promoter and the Government of Kenya in May this year.
The seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship was scheduled on 16 – 19 July and its return to the series for the first time since 2002 was eagerly awaited but has since been confirmed to run from June 24 to 27 of next year.
Also present during the tree planting exercise were Cabinet Secretaries James Macharia (Transport) and Amina Mohamed (Sports) along with WRC Safari Rally CEO Phineas Kimathi among others.
Kimathi,who is also the Kenya Motor Sports Federation President thanked the ministry of sports for being actively involved in planning for the Safari’s big comeback.
“Todt is my good friend and has always supported us whole heartedly. We are grateful to him and also the Government for always ensuring this is on top of their agenda. The presence of two CSs is a clear indication of how the National administration is committed to making this happen”,Kimathi said.
Todt a veteran Safari rally navigator himself is expected deliver a keynote address on the Kenyan event at the Lake Naivasha Resort, the on-site Safari Rally headquarters.
This will be preceded by an inspection of the WRC Safari Rally Service Park at the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute where all activities of the 2021 Safari Rally will be co-ordinated from.
The 2002 Safari Rally, the 50th, was won by Colin McRae and Nicky Grist in a Ford Focus RS WRC 02 .
The 2021 WRC Safari Rally is expected to pump a whopping KES. 6 billion into the Kenyan economy through hotel occupancy by foreign teams and spectators, the transport industry and direct purchase of local products like fuel, foodstuffs and so much more.