President Uhuru Kenyatta has lauded the World Rally Championship (WRC), terming it a great motor sporting event that positively impacted the country’s economy.
President Kenyatta said since its return last year, the international motor sporting event has raised the country's profile by attracting renowned motor sports giants. The President spoke on Sunday afternoon when he awarded winners of this year’s Safari Rally in Naivasha, Nakuru County.
“Thank you very much for your partnership and your cooperation, and to the people of Kenya you will see this is an event that is in our blood. Let me also remind you that it is not only an event that is in our blood because of our history but it is also an event that impacts us economically and positions us globally,” President Kenyatta said.
At the same time, the President called on Kenyans to continue supporting the event not only as a sporting activity but also an economic one as well.
“An event like this is not just about the drivers and the crews, it's also about every single person who is a participant from the hotels that are occupied, to the waiters who serve them, from those that do traffic management to those who are spectators, and those who are vendors for various items. It is an event that brings money to the pockets of wananchi.
“As we promote it, we promote not just the sport, we also promote our own economic wellbeing and that is how I would want Kenyans to view it. Don’t look at the event with small lens but rather see it in a bigger picture. Let’s see it as an event which will help us prosper,” said the President.
The Head of State thanked all stakeholders who helped in bringing back the WRC to Kenya and congratulated the winners for demonstrating the true spirit of sportsmanship.
“We are here today to really celebrate the second year that we have hosted the return of the Safari Rally back on the WRC circuit. We are here to say how happy and proud we are to be together with all our partners and racing lovers across the globe as we celebrate our drivers, as we celebrate their cruise across the globe.
“Mine is to congratulate every single participant and as I said when we started, the prize is not in winning, the prize is in how you win. I want to believe that all our competitors for this year's Safari Rally have shown us the need and the great desire for competing vigorously but acknowledging competition is not enemity and that is why we are here. To celebrate not just the winners but every single entrant, congratulations to each and everyone of you,” he said.
The President, who is also the Patron of the Safari Rally, thanked the Federation International de I’Automobile (FIA) and the World Rally Championship for partnering with the Government in ensuring the event was brought back and that it is well managed.
“I want to extend my gratitude to the FIA team and the World Rally Championship team for the manner in which we have collaborated. Bringing back the Safari Rally required keen working together and a willingness to partner together to deal with the issues that resulted in the rally leaving Kenya in the first place. And I want to thank them for that partnership we have walked the journey together and we are back together,” he said.
The President also commended Maxine Wahome, the only Kenyan woman who participated in this year’s Safari Rally for winning category 3 of the 2022 World Rally Championship.
Others who spoke during the event, which was also attended by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, were Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Heritage Amina Mohammed, Vice President for the Federation International de I’Automobile Rodrigo Rocha and the Kenya Motor Sports Federation Chairman Phineas Kimathi.
Earlier, at a scenic vantage point at the famous Hells Gate National Park in Naivasha, the President and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, accompanied by senior Government and rally officials, joined other rally enthusiasts to watch the drivers cruise past as they tackled one of the most ardours but thrilling sections of the WRC Safari Rally.
The winners of this year’s WRC were Kalle Rovanpera followed by Elfyn Evans who took the second position while Takamoto Katsuta took the third position.