Defending champion and series leader Kalle Rovanperra of Finland, navigated by Jonne Halttunen in a Toyota Gazoo car number 169M, was the first car to be flagged off in the 2023 WRC Safari Rally shakedown at the Naivasha service park early Wednesday.
Thierry Neuville, representing the Hyundai SHELL Mobis world rally team navigated by Martin Waideghe, was 2nd off the ram in car number 211M, followed by MSport Ford world rally team’s Ott Tanak with his navigator Martin Jarveoja in 3rd position.
President William Ruto flagged off the Naivasha shakedown and challenged more local drivers, especially women, to register for next year’s edition.
“This is a very exciting moment, not just for Naivasha but for Kenya as a country, as the Safari Rally marks 70 years,”said President Ruto
“I am happy that KBC will beam it live to Kenyans and the world amd congratulations to you.”added president Ruto
“I have always watched the rally as a spectator, but I haven’t gotten the opportunity to see it and test it,i think this yearI will try it on teh wheels” concluded the President.
Karan Patel, navigated by Tauseef Khan in a Ford Fiesta, was the first Kenyan driver to be flagged off during the shakedown by President Ruto in position 25, followed by Skoda Fabia’s Carl Tundo, navigated by Tim Jessop.
The president later flagged off the Loldia shake down which is a 5.40KM distance.
Both Patel and Tundo will compete in the rally 2 category in this year’s championship, which will be flagged off officially on June 22 at Uhuru Park, before drivers head to the Super Special Kasarani stage, where cars will go head-to-head over a 4.8-kilometer distance.
The second day of the competition, on the 23rd, will see drivers compete over three stages: Loldia, Geothermal, and Kedong, covering a total of 63.62km repeated.
On June 24, cars will compete over 75.44km in Soysambu,Elmentaita, Sleeping Warrior, Malewa,oserian and end at Hellsgate with the loop repeated.
On Sunday, June 5, the competition will head to Malewa, Oserian, and Hellsgate, with the stages repeated before the award ceremony.
This is the 3rd edition of the Safari rally since it was reinstated in the World Rally Championship calender and the 7th leg of the 13 series this year.
KBC Channel 1 will beam the event live .