The 2020 Safari Rally has stepped out of 17 years of darkness into the global limelight once again with the stage already set for the world’s attention just a week into the New Year.
Since last week, the Safari Rally organising team has been in Nakuru County to re-survey the proposed route, accompanied by experts from the World Rally Championship Promoter, the commercial arm of the FIA World Championship.
Every inch of the ground is being re-measured, GPS co-ordinates calibrated and re-calibrated to zero rate any margin of error.
Escape routes are also being weighed as the best media positions and spectator stages are carefully positioned. The final route draft must reach the International Motorsport Federation (FIA) by January 30 for further scrutiny and final approval, according to the CEO of the WRC Safari Rally Project, Phineas Kimathi.
Nothing is being left to chance with deadlines very tight in an effort to fit into the WRC format where events are organised with military precision to fit into the 13-round global calendar of which Kenya is guaranteed a presence for the next three years.
The aim of the ground-breaking work, scheduled to conclude by the end of this week, is to deliver a route commensurate to WRC standards and navigable by total strangers guided by road books and GPS.
The other is to clear and map the skies along the rally route which will be used exclusively by the WRC Promoter filming helicopter that will be airborne throughout the three days of the Safari, capturing images which will be transmitted to the company’s studios in London and beamed in 150 countries on global linear television in real time.
However, Kenya will be given an exception for two or three more helicopters to clear wildlife, considered part of the surreal backdrop, images that are captivating and a selling point of the Safari to the global audience of up to 70 million projected for this year.
The location of the service park on the Kenya Wildlife Service land on the Naivasha-Mai Mahiu /Moi South Road junction, extending all the way to shores of Lake Naivasha, is thematic in line with the African Savannah beauty.
An event village of sorts, the park will be home to about 64 containers of equipment and prefabricated buildings for teams and sponsors. The Safari will be delivered on July 16 in the picturesque floor of the Great Rift Valley.
No few than 50 cars are expected in the Safari including three works teams from Toyota, Ford and Hyundai. These are cars which costs over Sh100 million each, exclusive for factory teams and not for sale to individuals.
It is important for the sporting team to show Kenya’s organisational acumen.
It will be the icing on the cake after the Kenya Open Golf Championship in March and the World Under-20 Athletics Championships in July.