There were a lot of rumors, that after 17 years of absence, one of the legendary rallies, Safari Rally, will come back to the World Rally Championship calendar. And those talks were confirmed during a visit to Kenya by officials from FIA and car manufacturers. Northwest of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, Nakuru has attracted a large number of participants to the Kenyan and African Rally Championship for this occasion.
This rally began as early as 1953 on the occasion of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. From 1973 to 2002, the event was on the calendar of the World Rally Championship and always had its charm. Due to many factors, this was one of the most challenging competitions. Roads in that region of Africa are very rough, often with many sharp rocks and water crossings. Weather conditions changed very often and quite a lot, from the all-over sun to the never-ending rainfall. The climate there is very hot and humid. So it was a huge challenge for both the crew and the mechanics, who had to service cars in extreme conditions, which often came to the service area in quite bad shape. But the main feature of this rally was mileage. In the modern WRC era, as it is now, rally ranged from 300 to 400 kilometers. But in Safari – numbers reached around 1000 kilometers with stages sometimes longer than an enormous 100 kilometers. So it was a titanic challenge both for man and machine. 2002 was the last year of the WRC event in Kenya. This rally lost its place due to financial problems and poor organization. But people have not let their hands and worked hard to get the African continent back on the WRC calendar. After 2002, the rally has consistently been a Kenyan and African rally championship event, with the last organized by the FIA itself. At this year’s event, Kenya’s president in Nairobi waved a flag to greet the race and competitors. The race passed without major problems, and at least in the public, FIA Commissioners praised the event, giving great hope to rally fans in the region..
The 262-kilometer test this year was best won by two-time Kenyan champion Baldev Chager with the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X R4, half a minute ahead of his compatriot Carl Tundo, who was driving an identical car. The rally car fleet consisted mainly of Mitsubishi Lancer and Subaru Impreza cars, but there were also some Škoda Fabia R5s. The participants were mostly from Kenya, although there were guests from Uganda or Zambia, plus a few Europeans.
So, we are waiting for more news.
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