Amina: Foreign drivers in Rally Championships boost for Kenya

Sports CS Amina Mohamed flags off the10th Edition of the East African Classic Rally in Naivasha. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Mass arrival of international foreign drivers has proved Kenya's ability, prowess and readiness to host World Rally Championships now and in the future, Sports Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohammed has said.

Mohammed said Kenya has advanced and complete structures coupled with comprehensive protocols and safety measures that have instilled confidence in the Federation of International Automobile Association (FIA) on Kenya's ability to host Africa and global championships.

As a result, she said Kenya has been nominated to host the 2022 WRC Safari Rally Championships besides a host of other international championships, which include Ladies' European Golf Tour(LET) at Vipingo Golf Club, Africa Rally Championships (ARC) Equator Rally, Nairobi City Marathon and Continental Tours.

"We have the sophisticated approach and complete structures with proper protocols and safety measures that have seen Kenya get granted automatic hostings of international championships," Mohammed told Standard Sports after flagging off the tenth edition of East Africa Safari Rally Classics at Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute in Naivasha yesterday.

A total of 50 experienced foreign drivers and co-drivers had arrived in the country by yesterday to compete in the East Africa Safari Classics before it was flagged off by the minister.

Other officials present during the flagging off were Kenya Motorsports Federation President Phineas Kimathi, media sponsors Standard Group Chief Executive Officer Orlando Lyomu and board member Juliana Rotich.

The Sports Cabinet Secretary said they had put in place advanced measures to start a Motorsports Academy at Kasarani that will train talented young drivers who could compete against some of the renowned global experienced drivers.

"These are measures that should see the country start to train young drivers in order to produce some of the top drivers who should be ready to compete against the world best," added the minister.

Standard Group CEO flags off at KWS Training Institute in Naivasha, February 10, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

However, she was elated with the new development that will see two Kenyan young drivers compete at two international world championships in Sweden and Portugal this year.

"This proves that the commitment and measures we have put in place to propel and expose our young drivers to the global market against the experienced drivers is coming to fruition," she said.

Standard Group CEO Orlando Lyomu said since sports is integral in society, their support in the (sporting) multi-trillion-industry is automatic and bound to continue through its amplification for a win-win situation by all parties and for its growth.

"Our commitment is to support sports and see its growth for a win-win situation and that will also see us build and grow our brands," Orlando told Standard Sports.

Ambassador Mohammed flagged off the first seven machines before handing over the mantle to several senior rally and sponsors' officials with former champion Kris Rosenberger co-driven by Nicola Bleicher in a Porsche 911 being the first vehicle to be off the ramp.

He was followed by Africa Rally Championships (ARC) champion Carl ' Flash' Tundo with his longtime ally Tim Jessop in Triumph TR7 while Kenya National Rally Championships(KNRC) champion Baldev Chager co-driven by Drew Sturrock came third in a Porsche 911.

Former champion Kris Rosenberger, co-driven by Nicola Bleicher, was the first off the ramp. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

A total of 46 vehicles were flagged off yesterday with the main competition pitting Porsche and Ford Escorts.

Kenya Motorsports Federation President Phineas Kimanthi assured that all drivers were ready for the event adding that completing the event could be good for local drivers in readiness for the WRC Safari Rally in June 2022.

"Finishing the event is added advantage for local drivers in readiness for the WRC Safari Rally coming over later in the year," he said.

As the 46 vehicles are expected to traverse nine counties through several Game Reserves and National Parks ending at Watamu on February 18, Kenya Wildlife Service Director General Brigadier (Rtd) John Waweru assured of maximum security to ensure everybody is safe.

"We have put in enough security measures to ensure no driver is injured in the parks or animal knocked down by the vehicles. This will continue throughout the nine-day competition," said the KWS boss.

Yesterday, the vehicles passed through Nakuru and Baringo Counties before they head to Nanyuki in Laikipia County this morning.

Helicopter flying over the rally course in Sacho, Baringo County. February 10, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

"We have given the East Africa Safari Classics all the necessary support that has seen arrival of many international foreign drivers to participate in it," said Sports Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohammed.

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