Officials take stock of gains as dust settles on Safari Rally

Sunday March 19 2017

Tapio Laukannen and his navigator Gavin Laurence celebrate atop their car on Saturday in Nakuru after winning the 2017 Safari Rally. PHOTO | ANWAR SIDI |

Tapio Laukannen and his navigator Gavin Laurence celebrate atop their car on Saturday in Nakuru after winning the 2017 Safari Rally. PHOTO | ANWAR SIDI |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ABDUL SIDI
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As the dust settles on the Safari Rally, organisers have sough to take stock of gains made as the Africa Rally Championship event seeks to return to the World Rally Championship series.

The Safari Rally, which took place on Friday and Saturday, has been described as a successful round of the Africa Rally Championship.

FIA Africa Vice President, Surinder Thatthi, on Sunday said he was happy with the way the event was organised and run.

“The organisers did a fantastic job with excellent stages and the manner in which they controlled normal traffic on one particular transport section. FIA considers this an important part of safety of all those concerned with the sport,’’ said Thatthi.

Thatthi added: “Organisers must now build on the good work they did this year to make sure Kenya remains on the path to regaining World Rally Championship (WRC) status.’’

Kenya, which lost the WRC status in 2003, is on course to regaining its lost glory with a promise of WRC candidate event next year. The Safari Rally is one of the two major events that Kenya has to hold before being considered for the WRC status.  

Similar sentiments were shared by Kenya’s rallying legend Ian Duncan, whose epic battle with Finland’s Tapio Laukkanen ( Subaru Impreza) over two days ended with him taking second place in a Mitsubishi Lancer behind the Finn.

“The event was very well run on the day. The stages also worked well for us though I was conscious in the beginning not to get a puncture. Second place is excellent though Tapio was very quick,’’ said Duncan, who won the 1994 Safari Rally when the event was still part of the WRC. 

Duncan urged organisers to better prepare for the 2018 Safari Rally by setting up the route and programme months before the actual date of the rally. He said that will give those preparing for the rally ample time and comfort.

The team of officials, under the gudiance of Chairman of the Rallies Commission Supi Soin, spent weeks seeking favourable stages to ensure the rally was run professionally and according to FIA rules.

The top three places in the African Rally Championship are occupied by Kenyan drivers Carl Tundo, Jasi Chatthe and Manvir Baryan.