Finally, the sound of turbo-charged engines at full throttle will replace football chants at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, as the Safari Rally gets underway Friday.
For all vitriolic attacks endured over time, for one reason or another, the Kenyan government deserves some accolades this time round for having dedicated adequate resources for this year’s Safari.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is Patron of the World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Project while his Chief of Staff, Nzoika Waita, is a competitor, behind the wheels of a Mitsubishi Evo.
Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia, meanwhile, is driving the route-opening car in Friday’s Super Special Stage at Kasarani and with over Sh200 million disbursed from Treasury to the Safari Rally cause, the government’s total commitment to supporting the rally’s quest to have “the world’s toughest rally” back on the WRC circuit can’t be in doubt.
A strong delegation of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) is in town, led by Michele Mouton, the legend from the French Riviera who, in her heyday, thrilled Safari fans, driving Audi factory cars navigated by Fabrizia Pons, a formidable all-ladies crew that matched the men, stride by stride.
The FIA team will then report back to Paris as Kenyans wait with bated breath to see if the Safari will be included in the world series next year when the FIA’s Motorsport Council meets in October.
Credit must go to Phineas Kimathi, the indefatigable WRC Safari Project chief executive, and his team who have endured many odds, including mobilising own resources, to stay within the FIA’s strict compliance time-lines.
The best reward for these Kenyans is for the FIA to grant the Safari a clean bill of health and have it back on the global roster. After all, the WRC is incomplete without an African round, and the Safari offers the continent’s best hope yet for a world class event.
Moreover, with our amazing scenery, challenging terrain, unrivalled hospitality and fantastic weather, Kenya will provide a sumptuous destination for international rally drivers and fans, conditions that made the Safari Rally earn its enviable reputation.
Kenya has done it before, and will do it again. In fact, the FIA will wonder what took them so long before reinstating the Safari in their WRC calendar!
Let’s go Kenya, let’s go!
Makori is the Editor (Sports) at Nation Media Group. [email protected]