Kalle Rovanpera from Finland navigated by Jonne Halttunen at the Special Stage at Kasarani Stadium. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

The first batch of international drivers for the 2024 World Rally Championship (WRC), the Safari Rally is expected to arrive on Friday.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba said the speedsters will be flown to the Masai Mara at the weekend in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism as part of Government’s strategy to market the country as a top tourism and sporting destination.

Ababu added that the country is ready to make the third leg of the WRC series, which will be held in Naivasha, memorable.

This is evident from the thorough recce conducted at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) and at Kasarani Super Special Stage (KSSS), on Thursday.

The KICC will host the Safari Rally flag-off next Thursday, which will be presided over by President William Ruto, while the KSSS will have the opening round of the global championship after the flag-off.

Ababu said the government has invested heavily in safety, security and effective traffic control to ensure the motorsports extravaganza runs smoothly. “We are leaving nothing to chance. We are perfectly on track in our quest to deliver a spectacular event,” Namwamba told Standard Sports.

While urging Kenyans to observe traffic rules and regulations, Namwamba said this year’s rally is special in that it has returned back to its traditional Easter calendar and this is expected to draw large crowd.

Traffic Commandant, Mary Omari, whose statement was read by her deputy Gifinalis Baraza during the media briefing, issued stern warning to motorists and spectators ahead of the rally.

“Police officers will be deployed along the entire rally route to ensure safety of participants and road users. Parking of trucks by the road side along the rally routes, especially at Kikopey and the Mai Mahiu-Naivasha route, is prohibited during the period.

Motorists heading to Nyanza, Western and North Rift are advised to use the Narok route after Mai Mahiu.

The motorists heading to Nakuru from Central Kenya should divert at Thika and then proceed through the Safaricom Foundation route all through Nyakoe, Makumu, Njabini, Engineer, Ol Kalau and Lanet.

In response, Matatu Owners Association (MOA) CEO Patricia Mutheu said they will abide by the rules and regulations laid down by the traffic officers.

“We are glad to have partnered with the WRC Safari Rally. We have advised and talked to our people in Naivasha, Nakuru and Nairobi and everything is in order,” Mutheu said.

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