Rally preparations in top gear as the world spectacle edges closer
Published on: May 04, 2021 10:37 (EAT)
Kenya Motorsport Federation chairman and Safari Rally CEO Phineas Kimathi is optimistic that all will be in place by June 24 when the iconic Safari Rally is scheduled to make a comeback to the World Rally Championships after a 19-year hiatus. Kimathi noted that the preparations were in top gear having just completed a test run last week during the Africa Rally Championship, Equator Rally that was held in Naivasha. With just under a month before the big action, Kimathi says the key areas of preparation are done hence the confidence of delivering a world class competition. “Kenya and Kenyans are very excited because we are on the verge of returning Safari Rally to the World Rally Championships. The preparations are in top gear. We just have over 50 days to get ready and everything is running well. We had a test run, the Africa Rally Championship, the Equator Rally and the FIA are satisfied with our preparations and we are just fine-tuning to get everything ready,” he noted. Kimathi who is also a member of the International Automobile Foundation World Rally Championship (FIA WRC), however conceded the greatest challenge in their preparations to the event is the Covid-19 pandemic. “It’s the first time we are running an event under Covid-19 protocols and under the newly introduced Appendix S by the FIA in terms of resumption of motorsport all over the world; so we have new areas defined differently. The retired rally driver explained the steps put in place by the governing bodies to ensure the safety of participants and the rest of the stakeholders. “We will have a high density area – where people who will access the service park will only be those who have tested negative to the novel coronavirus, and we will also have a low density area where we will take the temperatures but the two areas don’t get to mix. In the olden days we were used to just getting a pass and walking everywhere but we will have to adjust to the new normal,” explained Kimathi. Kimathi has reiterated the importance of the return of the World Rally Championship to motorsport fraternity in the country. “It’s very clear that Kenya is positioning herself at the top of the entire Africa. For 19 years, no country in Africa has put forward a proposal solid enough to convince FIA and WRC that they can host this level of an event. And once we do that, it will mean that we position Kenya as a leading country in the continent of Africa and one that can handle and host such an event. We thank the Kenyan Government and all the corporates for their dedication and commitment to ensure that Safari Rally gets back to the WRC.” Kenya commercial Bank (KCB) who are the national rally championship sponsors have pumped in Sh 100 million in ensuring that the Safari is a success to the delight of Kimathi. “I’m grateful to KCB for supporting Rally since 2003 when Kenya lost her World Rally Championship status. They have invested over Sh 1.2 billion shillings since we lost our WRC status and we owe it to them for making sure that the national championships didn’t wither out.” More work and improvement in preparations is expected in the coming days as the countdown to the June 24 spectacle continues.