Yasser Nasser co-driven by Ali Katumba in a Subaru Impreza during the 2021 ARC Equator Rally in Naivasha on April 24-27, 2021. [Equator Rally]

The ARC Equator Rally concluded in Naivasha at the weekend. The event acted as a dress rehearsal for the WRC Safari Rally that will be staged on the same route from June 24-27.

Below, The Standard Sports looks at why Kenya is ready to host the WRC event.

1.Route

a) Elmenteita stage

The 14.67km stretch that gave the drivers a lot of headache is a track from Safari Rally of old.

The stage took inroads of the Soysambu Conservancy on the Delamere Estate, which has been part of the Safari Rally for decades.

b) Soysambu stage

This was a 20.33km section.

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It has two well designed spectator zones, one at the start and the other at the finish point.

Due to the Covid-19 protocols, it is not guaranteed fans will have a chance to catch action at those points.

c) Sleeping Warrior

This is a rocky and muddy 30.98km coarse lava road.

It gave the drivers sleepless nights, with many ending the day with punctured tyres and ripped off chassis. Nonetheless, it’s the toughness of this stretch that makes Safari Rally what it is. Toughest.

d) Loldia

This 11.33km racing area spersed with a forest, with narrow tracks and flat out sections.

The forest will make this section feel different to all the other special stages during the Safari.

e) Malewa Bay

Just like Sleeping Warrior, Malewa too was tough and rocky, testing the spirit of the drivers ahead of the Safari. The 9.71km track with loose surface had ninety-degree junctions across its hilly terrain.

f) Kedong

This stretch has hosted stages of the Safari Rally for decades. The 32.68km mark has two spectator areas, one at the lake end and the other adjacent to the Mt Longonot.

Kedong also acted as a service park with communication centre, garages, stores and catering.

2.Safety

Tight security was provided by the Kenya Police, the National Youth Service and the Kenya Wildlife Services in all areas during the Equator Rally. Event Marshalls and the Kenya Police were present at vantage points of the routes to minimise margin of errors in the competition. The drivers also complied with the FIA International Sporting Code and its appendices in the 207.42km competitive sections.

From far right KCB Group CEO and MD Joshua Oigara hands over a dummy cheque of Sh100million to WRC Safari Rally Kenya CEO Phineas Kimathi assisted by Sports CS Amina Mohamed and Principal Secretary for Sports Joe Okudo at Kasarani Stadium on Tuesday. [Jonah Onyango, The Standard]

3. Financial guarantee

According to Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, preps for the WRC is being given all the support it deserves by the state. Part of this was the government coming on board to sponsor the ARC Equator Rally. “The Government of Kenya will work hard to ensure the Safari Rally’s return to the WRC calendar after a 19-year hiatus is as smooth as possible. “We want to make Kenya the rally country in the continent and the entire globe,” Sports CS Amina said.

The CS promised there will never be another threat for the country to lose the WRC status again after it took Kenya years to bring back the global championship.

4.Medical preparedness

In a bid to provide swift treatment at the Equator Rally, medical services providers E-Plus put at the disposal of the organisers 43 ambulances. The company also offered evacuation services to the drivers if there was a need to do so. This kind of fast and extensive medical response is what will be required at the WRC and organisers have already proved their worth. Several hospitals in Nairobi, Naivasha and Nakuru will be on standby during the event.

5. Hotels

Naivsaha prides itself as the City of Love because of multiple flower farms, vibrant hospitality and tourism industry. It has plenty of hotels in the town and its environs to suit everyone’s taste.

6.Covid-19 protocol enforcement

The ARC Equator Rally organisers ensured the Ministry of Health Covid-19 protocols were strictly enforced under the supervision of Covid-19 Compliance Officer. The High Density Areas such as the Service Park that hosted rally crews and officials were a no-go-zone. The Media Centre was also secured. Covid-19 tests were conducted at the KWS Service Park and at the Lake Naivasha Resort.

The tests were mandatory before accessing the Service Park whether one had a Covid-19 test certificate or not.

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