22-06-2021 by redazione
The historic Safari Rally in Kenya returns after twenty years, Thursday 24 June.
First held in 1953, the Safari Rally has been part of the World Rally Circuit programme since the inaugural season in 1973, running consecutively until 2002, and has earned a reputation year after year as the toughest event on the calendar, covering huge distances in difficult conditions.
For its return, partly as a result of the period of pandemic restrictions that have not been fully restored, the format of the event will be closer to a typical championship rally, without the iconic runs on the slopes of Kilimanjaro or close to national parks, but still extremely challenging, with rough, rocky roads and the unknown of wet weather that can add mud and sudden ponds to the route.
President Kenyatta, who predicted the return of the legendary equatorial rally at least ten years ago and managed to secure its return to the world championship last year, will inaugurate it at the Kenyatta International Conference Center in Nairobi, where the crews will set off for a city special stage, followed from Friday to Sunday by another 18 stages, for a total of 320 kilometres of competition.
"It was back in 2010 when we started trying to work with the WRC to ask them to come back to Kenya," Kenyatta said, "There have been many obstacles along the way. The preparations have been intense and I want to thank all the agencies, our private sector and rally enthusiasts who have given their time and effort to ensure that this event takes place. My hope is that the way we conduct ourselves in the coming days will be such that everyone can accept that the Safari Rally is back here to stay. We don't want to lose this event anymore, but that will depend on how all parties involved, including Kenyans, deal with it."
He is echoed by Safari Rally CEO Phinneas Kimathi. "With the large reserves and ranches, the safety of rally cars is assured. When you have a rally stage on established routes, you can be sure that cars, motorbikes and bicycles won't be running there," Kimathi specifies. "Naivasha has a combination of rocks, hills and dusty sections, twisty curves and straight sections that fit FIA regulations, but it also has a lot of Rift Valley wildlife. It's a challenging but fantastic spectacle.
The 2021 Safari Rally will end on Sunday with the decisive race in Hell's Gate Park on the shores of Lake Naivasha, after tackling trials further north to Lake Elmenteita on Saturday. Super-favourite of the competition, the 38-year-old French driver Sebastién Ogier, seven-time world champion who has declared that he is fulfilling a dream by taking part in the rally in Kenya and that he will retire at the end of this championship. His main opponents, among a good number of Kenyan participants, are Welshman Elfyin Evans and Finnish, another school of great rally drivers, Kalle Rovanpera.
(photo: FIA - DPPI F.Le Floch)
Finland's Kalle Rovanpera has won the Safari Rally Kenya 2022.
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