Safari Rally return to World Rally Championships postponed to 2021
Kenya was readmitted to WRC in September last year following the inclusion of Safari Rally in the WRC 2020 calendar. [Photo: Courtesy]

The return of Safari Rally Kenya to the World Rally Championships (WRC) circuit has been postponed to 2021 over the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision was reached on Friday following sustained discussions between the Kenyan Government, WRC Promoter and the International Automobile Association (FIA).

“We are grateful to the Patron, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta, for his unwavering support and counsel as we deliberated on the next best steps. We also owe exceptional gratitude to the President of the FIA, Mr Jean Todt and the WRC Promoter led by Oliver Ciesla for their unyielding support since we commenced engagements to return the Safari Rally to the WRC Circuit,” said Sports CS Amina Mohamed.

The Sports Cabinet Secretary noted that all is not lost and 2021 promises to be a great year for Kenya in the WRC Circuit.

“We will continue to prepare for the event as groundworks are already in top-gear and look forward to welcoming rally professionals, teams and enthusiasts to Kenya when the event is re-convened next year.

“Postponing the event to 2021 was not a simple decision to make, however, we are cognizant of the present global challenges and assure that the Safari Rally will mark a significant part of our country’s history as we intended for the next three years,” CS Mohamed added.

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On his part, Sports Principal Secretary Joe Okudo assured that the Government will continue supporting the project financially.

“The coordinating organs responsible for the preparation for the event are already in place and will continue to work until the event is re-convened,” said Okudo.

CEO of the WRC Safari Rally Project further said the organising teams will continue to work hard to make sure that they deliver a world-class event.

He noted that his team is at an advanced stage to complete the Service Park located in Nakuru County and is in line with the set completion timelines.

“We have also completed the Event Safety Plan, Itinerary and Supplementary Regulations all delivered within the given FIA and WRC timelines and will move forward to complete all the requisite arrangements. We encourage the drivers and all stakeholders to keep in touch with the secretariat as we ready ourselves for the new dates,” Kimathi pointed out.

Kenya was readmitted to WRC in September last year following the inclusion of Safari Rally in the WRC 2020 calendar.

The 2020 calendar, comprised 14 rounds and Kenya was to host the event from July 19, 2020.

History

The Safari Rally as it is known today was first held in Kenya in 1953 to commemorate the coronation of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

It started as the East African Safari Rally traversing the three East African countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

The Rally developed to become the toughest Rally in the world and was regarded as a true test of man and machine.

In 1973, the Safari was admitted to the prestigious FIA World Rally Championship held within boundaries of Kenya.

The Safari Rally continued to enjoy International Automobile Federation World Rally Championship status until the year 2002 when the event was dropped from the World Rally Championship and relegated to the African Rally Championship (ARC).

Ian Duncan, Patrick Njiru, Jonathan Moi, Vic Preston Jnr, Frank Tundo are some of the local names that used to give to give the big European boys a run for their money.

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