Safari rally WRC status project takes shape

By The Standard: Thursday, February 15th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Sports

Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) President Jean Todt will officially open the WRC Safari Rally Project new headquarters at Kasarani stadium on February 27.

Todt, third in 1973 Safari co-driving Ove Andersson in a Peugeot 504 and later team principal of Peugeot Talbot Sport, will be appraised on the progress Kenya is making in its bid to return the Safari Rally to the World Rally Championship (WRC) by 2020.

The Government gazetted two committees, Steering and Organising, last year to roll out a road map towards the WRC status, 15 years since the Safari was struck off from the 13-rounds series, under the aegis of the WRC Safari Rally Project.

Very impressed

Chief Executive of the Project and chairman of the Organising Committee Phineas Kimathi said Todt’s comprehensive itinerary would be released later.

Todt was in Kenya in 2015 and met President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House Nairobi. He returned on December 12, 2016 and held discussions with several senior government officials led by the then Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts Richard Ekai.

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The FIA boss said then: “If all the processes are followed we see no reason why Kenya cannot make it back to the WRC. So far we are very impressed with the Kenya National Rally Championship as one of the best run events in Africa. But the new standards of rallying must be respected,” Todt said then.

 “We are happy that the Government of Kenya has been very supportive of the process but reiterates the process will have to be ongoing,” Todt said.

However, his biggest engagement of the day is unveiling the 5,000 square foot Safari headquarters at block 8/9 of the main stadium where most pre-Safari events will be held including scrutineering.

This is the third visit by Todt, a great Safari fan and navigator and formerly Chief Executive Officer of Scuderia Ferrari F1 team, to Kenya but the first to meet the motorsports authorities at their own premises for a more comprehensive engagement.

However, Kimathi has been holding talks with Todt, the FIA top brass and the World Championship Media and Commercial rights holder, the WRC Promoter Managing Director Oliver Ciesla for the last two years regarding the Safari’s future.