Female driver Wahome makes WRC Safari Rally Kenya history

Maxine Wahome inside her car at the WRC Safari Rally Kasarani headquarters on June 17, 2022. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Maxine Wahome made history by becoming the first Kenyan female to win a World Rally Championship (WRC) support round as the Safari Rally concluded on Sunday.

Wahome won the WRC3 title on home soil in the 2022 edition of the African classic that saw Finland's Kalle Rovanpera win the main class to extend his lead at the top of the world championship.

"My goal was just to learn the car and day by day improve my speed. Wednesday was my first time in the car - I normally drive a Subaru Impreza N12. The only testing I got with the car was on Tarmac, which is completely different to the Safari," Wahome told the WRC Promoter after her pioneering feat.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who officially closed the rally in Naivasha, 90km northwest of the capital Nairobi, hailed Wahome in his address.

"I want to congratulate our very own Maxine Wahome, you have proved that the world of motorsport is not the world of men but humankind; we shall stand with you through the WRC ranks globally," Kenyatta saluted.

Maxine Wahome driving FORD Fiesta past a warden at Hells Gate arrive at Hells Gate during the WRC Safari Rally Kenya 2022 in Naivasha on Sunday 26, 2022. [Stafford Ondego, Standard] 

After Sunday's opening test was canceled, the 26-year-old produced five error-free stages to lead the all-Ford Fiesta Rally3 field by 25 minutes and 27 seconds over second-placed and compatriot Jeremy Wahome.

FIA Junior WRC regular McRae Kimathi rounded out the all-Kenyan podium over 10 minutes behind at the end of a brutal event that forced every driver into retirement at least once.

Wahome's winning performance was made even more impressive by the fact she had never driven the Fiesta car on gravel before the start.

Wahome's rally very nearly unraveled on Friday evening when she was sidelined by an engine control unit fault on the final test, but the youngster was able to restart on Saturday and reclaimed the top spot as her rivals came unstuck.

Hamza Anwar threatened to break her stride and clawed back over two and a half minutes on Sunday morning, but he retired with two stages remaining.

 

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