Kenya’s WRC bid receives support in Rwanda meet

By The Standard: Thursday, August 30th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Sports
Rally cars line up at Kasarani Stadium on Wednesday for a pre-event scrutineering ahead of the 2018 ARC Safari Rally. [Standard Sports]

Kenya’s bid to return to the World Rally Championship continues to receive support from the motorsport community. Next year, the famous Safari Rally will be run under a FIA WRC Candidate Event status.

A Candidate Event is a practical bid, which if successful will see Kenya return to the WRC from 2020, exactly 18 years since the last WRC Safari in 2002.

During this year’s FIA Confederation of African Countries in Motorsport (CACMS) in Kigali, Rwanda, August 22-25, WRC Safari Rally Project Event Secretary and Secretariat Administrative Secretary Helen Shiri and Ruth Muthui took visitors through the country’s efforts.

 “Keep pushing,” said Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) President Jean Todt. “Good luck,” he wrote in the visitor’s book.

This is the third time, Todt has commented about Kenya’s Safari dream this year. On February 27 when he opened the WRC Safari Rally Project new offices, he observed: “I’m encouraged by what I have seen.

“It will rely on combined efforts by Kenya Motor Sports Federation, Automobile Association of Kenya, FIA Foundation and both the private and public sectors.

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Reality in Africa

“It’s sad that Safari Rally lost its WRC status in 2002 despite its rich history. Over the years there have been initiatives to have it back but unfortunately it didn’t happen,” Todt said.

On June 21 during the official signing ceremony between the Kenya government and the WRC Promoter in Paris in his presence, officially elevating the 2019 Safari as an FIA Candidate Event, Todt tweeted: “Safari Rally becomes official WRC FIA candidate event, signing off the agreement between government of Kenya and WRC Promoter today in Paris at the Automobile & Club De France.”

 “I hope I will encourage the development of motorsports and road safety in Africa.”

The President of Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda Dusman Okee said:  “The WRC is finally becoming a reality in Africa and Africa is once again brought to life through Kenya. Thanks you so much friends and lovers of motorsport to Kenya. The Harambee Project to all of us.”

Alain Ambrosino, the President of Cote D-Ivoire motorsports body who finished 6th in the 1985 WRC Safari Rally in a Works Nissan 240RS, was full of praise on WRC Safari Rally Project initiative, summing it thus, “Good job.”

“Well done,” said John Murphy of CAMS Australia as ace African driver and former ARC Safari Rally participant Giancarlo Davite of Rwanda said that Africa needs a WRC Safari. “We want it. You did it. Good luck.”

 “I would love to attend and experience the rally event,” said Jackie Meyer of Botswana. Natacha Gober, a staff of FIA, Geneva was very impressed by the staff at hand.  “Pleased to feel such an amazing and cheerful team.

The 2018 Africa Rally Championship (ARC) Safari Rally FIA Observer Wille Du Plessis of South Africa who has consistently served in that capacity in past Safaris and other continental events, agreed it is time for Africa. “Do it for us Africans,” he said.

Katende Mukiibi, Uganda added:  “Eagerly awaiting for the return of WRC to Africa.”While Ange Francois of RAC, Rwanda added: “We encourage you to bring back WRC in Africa. Keep it up.”

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