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Why Mwangi is inspired ahead of next week's WRC Safari Rally

Driver Stephen Mwangi (left) and Sports CS Amina Mohamed accompanied by other drivers and Safari Rally officials during the launch of Driver Support Program with the official retail partner Quickmart ahead of the 2022 WRC. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The excitement of the 2022 World Rally Championships (WRC) series is on the air.

It is ringing even much louder that now the sixth leg of the global series, the Safari Rally, is headed home in the lakeside town of Naivasha next week.

One of the participants, Steve Mwangi, is determined to make it through the grueling showpiece after failing to reach the finish line last season.

Mwangi was amongst the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) drivers who were relegated from the main event to the national tier four category after failing to upgrade their vehicles to the recommended standards laid down by world motorsports governing body FIA.

To add insult to the injury, Mwangi failed to complete the prestigious contest last season due to a broken driveshaft.

But Mwangi’s problems appear to have come to an end yesterday after he landed a lucrative Sh10 million deal, together with Lioness Rally champion Maxine Wahome, from retail store Quickmart.

“With the funds, I’m now motivated to finish the rally,” a visibly excited Mwangi told Standard Sports.

Mwangi has planned to upgrade his Subaru Imprezza N10 that he was already preparing for the Safari Rally.

“I’ll buy a better driveshaft. This is what brought me nightmare in the competition last year. We are currently moulding the car, we are working on areas that failed us last in 2021; changing the parts where necessary,” he said.

The 43-year old father of three already knows he cannot beat the big boys of the game from M-Sport Ford, Toyota Gazoo Racing and Hyundai Motorsport but he is determined not to crash out of the championships like he did last season. “The likes of defending champion Sebastien Ogier and nine time winner Sebastien Loeb have beasts we can’t match against but with these funds, we should be able to get some cosy victories in other categories,” Mwangi underlined.

“Whatever the ranking or classification we will get at the WRC, we will still just appreciate,” he said.

And in order to meet FIA standard test at the championships, Mwangi has planned to do a self scrutineering test with his squad this weekend.

“This exercise will give us hints on what to change or upgrade in the vehicle, so that the car can conform to the international regulations of FIA,” said Mwangi.

Mwangi will also be back at the rough sections of Athi River to do his final test drives for the car.

This is meant to set him off for the Safari Rally as the Athi River terrains are similar to the tedious conditions that are already awaiting him at the WRC in Naivasha.

He is also bonding with his long-term navigator Dennis Mwenda to sharpen their focus for the Safari.

On physical fitness, Mwangi has been doing lots of exercises which he has toned down to twice a week; Mondays and Fridays at the gym.

But he is quick to admit that he has failed in the kitchen department as he is not under any diet.