FIA says Safari Rally will add adventure to World Championship

By Xinhua: Friday, February 21st 2020 at 05:30 GMT +3 | Sports
Leroy Gomes and his navigator U rshlla Gomes (Zambia/Ford Fiesta) at Kedong at the last leg during the Safari Rally 2019 FIA African Rally Championship in Naivasha .on 10th July 2019. PHOTO/David Gichuru

The Safari Rally will add a different taste and value to the lucrative World Rally Championship (WRC), according to top racing officials.

Federation Internationale Automobile (FIA) President Jean Todt said Safari Rally’s unique long route, dusty roads, and gravel terrains within closed roads, is an attribute that cannot be replicated elsewhere.

“Kenya will be different with gravel roads, nature, adventure and all other things needed for the interest of the World Rally,” Todt said.

Elfyn Evans won the first round of the WRC in Rally Sweden last weekend, becoming the first British driver to win the WRC’s only winter round after easing his Toyota Yaris.

The FIA boss has been instrumental to have the WRC stage one of its 14-leg series in Africa.

This year it has reinstated Safari Rally (Africa), New Zealand Rally and Japan Rally (Asia).

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“The Swedish Rally was meant for snow and Safari Rally was a traditional event and everyone was happy to see cars cover long distances. But things changed and no one would accept to have similar stages,” added Todt, who is a road safety ambassador for the United Nations.

Todt, who participated in the Safari in the early 70s, remembers with nostalgia the adventure he went through, then the event transiting three countries, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. 

“In my position, I always try to live beyond a personal level. I try to see what is the interest of the championship,” he said.

The 2020 WRC Calendar was globalised with more events outside Europe. The Kenyan event will run as the eighth round of the World Rally Series from July 16-19 in Nairobi and Naivasha.

“We want to have rallies in every continent. Each region deserves to host a certain FIA event. Africa only had the World Rallycross Championship in South Africa. Now we have the safari Rally.”

Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa, and Australasia continents will make up the 2020 WRC season.

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