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Excitement grips motorsport ahead of 60th Safari

SPORTS By Erick Ochieng’ | May 23rd 2012 | 2 min read

By Erick Ochieng’

The KCB Safari Rally 2012 marks the 60th edition of the event when drivers converge in Kenya on the weekend of June 8-10.

The 60th Safari might offer crews a taste of some the old type challenging competition with the current heavy rains pounding parts of the country.

Dali Kalsi, the event director has been to the route severally and is working on finalising the set up in Kajiado by tomorrow.

The event will be flagged off outside KICC on June 8 and onward to the super special at the Railway Club, Nairobi. Cars will then head for an overnight stop at KICC then proceed to Kajiado on June 9 and will have the overnight parc ferme in Isinya.

The event concludes at the KICC on the afternoon of June 10, said Kenya Motor Sport Foundation Chairman Mwaura Njuguna.

“Being the 60th anniversary, there are lots of excitement and anticipation for crews, officials and spectators,” said Mwaura.

On Monday sponsors KCB, ALS and iWay Africa went to KICC and Uhuru Park for the branding recce led by KMSF sponsorship liaison Sylvia King.

Safari is considered to be the world’s toughest rally.  It was first held from 27 May to 1 June 1953 as the East African Coronation Safari in Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika as a celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II which happened as a result of the death of King George VI.

In 1960 it was renamed the East African Safari Rally and kept that name until 1974, when it became the Safari Rally.

The Safari Rally adopted the special stage format in 1996. From that edition until 2002, it featured over 1,000 km of timed stages, with stages well over 60 km long, unlike most rallies which had under 500 km of total timed distance. This meant that the winner’s total time was above 12 hours in 1996 and decreased to two seconds shy of eight hours in 2002.

The event was part of the World Rally Championship calendar for many years until being excluded after 2002 due to lack of funding.

Since 2003 the event has been part of the African Rally Championship organized by the FIA. It is currently known as the KCB Safari Rally after its sponsor, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB).

Local driver Shekhar Mehta (the late) was the most successful in the event with five outright victories (1973, 1979–1982).

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