By Claire Wanja
Kenya Airways in partnership with the East African Safari Classic Rally (EASCR) has Thursday launched the 8th Edition of the biennial Kenya Airways East African Classic Safari Rally.
This year’s event that will be flagged off at the Sarova Whitesands, Mombasa on the 23rd of November, is the seventh edition under Kenya Airways title sponsorship since 2003.
Speaking at the official launch at the KQ headquarters, Kenya Airways Ground Services Director Francis Musila said that the airline was proud to sponsor “The World’s Greatest Rally” and highlighted the significance of the event in promoting trade, tourism and business opportunities for Kenya and the East African Community at large.
“We are committed to continued investments in supporting various sports disciplines in the country in our resolve to grow and facilitate sports tourism in Kenya and the region at large. Being one of the most prestigious and nostalgic rally-sport events in the world, I believe Kenya Airways East African Classic Safari Rally is the best platform to nurture, develop and horn the skills of the participants in an international realm”, he said.
Musila, who was speaking on behalf of Kenya Airways CEO Mr. Sebastian Mikosz, added that Kenya Airways was committed to play a leading role in growing EASCR to claim even more glory and recognition in the world motorsport calendar in conjunction with the rally organizers.
Musila called upon fans and spectators to come in large numbers to support the event that will run from November 23rd to December 1st with the crews battling it out through savannah and forest, rivers and valleys, racing against the scenic backdrop of some of the most captivating landscapes in the world covering over 4,000km in both Kenya and Tanzania.
EASR Limited Director Raju Kishinani on his part said the legendary Safari Rally has grown and blossomed over the years “but this would not have been possible without the support of partners such as The Pride of Africa, Kenya Airways, our 4G partners Safaricom, Sarova Group of Hotels and my business partner JS Vohra.”
Raju further added that “the Safari Classic Rally competitor’s journey to the chequered flag begins as soon as they set off for Kenya, so it’s wonderful to have the support of our national carrier and The Pride of Africa ,Kenya Airways. Year-on-year they do us proud and it’s always a pleasure to work with them.”
This year, the KQ East African Safari Classic Rally will see some of the big names return to the picturesque Safari Classic terrain.
The 1984 World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist will be back to defend the title he won for the first time in 2015 behind the wheel of a Porsche 911. The Swede oldie will renew his rivalry with local hero and six times Kenya National Rally Champion Ian Duncan who recently aired his Ford Capri RS3100 in a competitive test ahead of the 2017 Safari Classic.
Duncan will not be alone in bringing the flight to Blomqvist. Also in the mix is the Datsun 260Z of South Africa’s Geoff Bell and the highly competitive Group B Mazda RX-7 of French historic veteran, Philippe Gache. With many experienced competitors in quick rally cars aiming for a best-ever finish, 2017 could be Safari Classic’s closest year yet.