Naivasha roars back to life as exhilarating Safari Rally starts

A spectator during 2023 WRC Safari Rally at KWS Service park Naivasha on June 21, 2023. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Ladies and gentlemen, once again we are back in Naivasha where the partying is never ending this week.

Everyone is here, ready to partake on the seventh leg of the World Rally Championship (WRC), the Safari Rally, that officially revved off Thursday.

The global motorsport spectacle has turned ordinary businesses into gold, they are booming with meteoric speed.

Boisterous boda boda riders are making a killing ferrying passengers across the town who are visiting the iconic rally stages where the action is.

Fans follow action at Loldia stage, Naivasha on June 21, 2023. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

At the shores of Lake Naivasha, Vincent Owino is reaping big profits by giving revellers an experience riding on speed boats.

"So far, I have made good money guiding and taking photos of the tourists," Mark Kimindiri, a freelance photographer, told Standard Sports.

Hotels lined up along the Naivasha lakeshores are minting money from the passengers and revellers who are sampling the various local delicacies especially the sumptuous komon fish that is popular in the area.

Hotels, mostly along the sin city region-the Moi South Lake Road-are fully booked.

It's hard to get a decent accommodation in the location and among other high end areas where the moneyed have arrived with their 'petro-dollars.'

Along the roads, fans are lining up to cheer the rally cars, they get excited with the roar of the Rally 1 Hybrid machines by the leading top three manufacturers; M-Sport Ford Pumas, Toyota Gazoo Racing and Hyundai.

Finn super star, Kalle Rovapera, who topped the shakedown in Loldia on Wednesday, seems to be the crowd favourite from the wild cheers he receives as he whizzes past them.

Kenya's Acrobats during this year's ceremonial WRC Safari Rally flag off at Uhuru park, Nairobi. June 22nd,2023 [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

Several electric vehicles are also on offer to ferry fans to the spectator stages. This is meant to introduce Kenyans to the e-mobility mode of transport that offers sustainable actions on climate change.

The rally headquarters at the Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI ) is such a beehive of activities.

The manufacturers are forever downloading, fixing, installing or panel beating the cars into shape.

It was so amazing to see how Toyota Gazoo Racing star Takamoto Katisuta's road warrior that, rolled at the shakedown in Loldia, was fixed in record time ahead of the opening 4.84km Kasarani Super Special Stage in Nairobi yesterday. The three manufacturers have state of the art workshops, compete with restaurants and chefs. Their mechanics are operating 24 hours. They have been trained to fix cars with such terrific speed.

Police officer provide security during this year's ceremonial WRC Safari Rally flag off at Uhuru park,Nairobi. June 22nd,2023 [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

Security in Naivasha is currently top notch, with flying overhead helicopters hovering around.

The grounds are manned by security personnel among them the National Police Service, the Kenya Wildlife Service, the National Youth Service and over a 1000 safety marshals who are lined up on the rally routes.

Over 105 E-plus ambulances are also on standby at various designated stages to offer prompt medical services at the rally. The ambulance crew have undergone extensive training and continuing medical education to enhance their skills ahead of the Safari Rally.

Among the areas covered in their training includes vehicle extrication of victims, emergency vehicle operations and ground evacuations.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua (centre) Sports CS Ababu Namwamba (3rd right) and male rally drivers during this year's ceremonial WRC Safari Rally flag off at Uhuru park,Nairobi. June 22nd,2023 [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

The state of the art media centre at the rally headquarters offers a battery of journalists, from all races and creed, to update the rest of the world live on the ongoing rally.

The media centre has two giant walled screens where scribes not on the route can keep abreast with the live updates of the rally.

The famous Subaru boys are expected in Naivasha this weekend with their bevy of beauties on their toes.

It is still not yet known where they will hold their wild parties after the local government banned partying along the famous Moi South Lake Road including hosting of entertainment events and orgies.

On Thursday, fans climbed rooftops and walls to watch the opening leg of the rally at the exciting Kasarani Super Special Stage in Nairobi before the cars were ferried back to Naivasha to continue with the 1191km contest.

The opening stage saw two cars compete at the same time on the twin track where the spectators defied the avalanche of dust emitted to enjoy the showpiece.

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