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SPORTS

Hell’s Gate to host Safari Rally Power Stage

UNIQUE SPORTS By Robin Toskin | April 6th 2021
Chief Safety Officer Noriss Ongalo (left), Media Safety/Route Liaison Anwar Sidi (centre) during a route survey of the WRC Safari Rally Kenya at Hell's Gate. [Standard Sports]

Final section to offer bonus Championship points for fastest times

The splendor of City of Love, Naivasha and its tourism potential will be in full display when the World Rally Championship returns to Kenya after 19 years of missing in action.

Full throttle action will play out in the picturesque backdrop of Hell’s gate in Ol Karia, Naivasha, on the final day of the Safari Rally.

Aptly named as the Power Stage section, the10.56km rising stretch that gives way to breath-taking drop in the inviting terrain dotted with rumbling geysers from the earth’s bowel will play host to eye-watering man and machine duels.

If the Covid-19 restrictions will have been eased to allow fans to watch from the Great Rift Valley floor, then it should make for a spectacle to be hold for the rally-starved fans in Kenya. If not, live TV coverage to be beamed across the world will be the fall back.

The stage will be done twice with the initial run serving as a normal stage and the second run being the designated power stage where world rally teams will earn bonus Championship points for fastest times.

The Power Stage will be the last competitive section of WRC Safari.

WRC Safari Rally CEO Phineas Kimathi, during a media briefing in Naivasha, said the Power Stage will be televised live giving the world a scenic look of what the country has to offer.

Kimathi, who is also the Kenya Motor Sport Federation (KMSF) Chairman, added that the Power Stage will also present a great opportunity to market the country as a viable tourist destination.

“The amount of publicity that the power stage will generate and the scenic view of the Lake Naivasha area will actually bring so many tourists to the country,” said Kimathi.

“This is because the WRC is very much TV driven event. The total broadcast footage that we expect to be produced in the five days of activity starting with the shakedown on June 23, the ceremonial start at KICC and Kasarani’s Super Special Stage (SSS) on June 24, culminating with power stage at Hell’s Gate in Naivasha will offer us 25 hours of quality live broadcast footage.”

“The footage will be aired live by over 155 television markets. This is a major boost to Kenya given that WRC commands a total viewership of 850million.” Kimathi said.

The live WRC TV production at Hell’s Gate National Park will also showcase the scenic view of the country’s geothermal energy plant in Naivasha.

The Safari will take place in Nairobi through to the Great Rift Valley, around Lake region and Elmenteita with the Service Park being at the KWS Training Institute, Naivasha on the main Nairobi to Nakuru Road.

Administrative checks will begin on Monday June 21 in Naivasha with reconnaissance starting later that day at 11am.

Reconnaissance will continue until Wednesday lunchtime followed by Wednesday June 23

Shakedown will take place from 1:30pm within the Ndulele Conservancy presenting a breathtaking backdrop of Lake Naivasha.

It will be the first time a modern-day WRC Rally car will have set foot on African soil in 19 years.

June 24 will see the world rally teams do a reconnaissance of the Kasarani Spectator Stage (SS1) in their WRC cars from 7:30am.

KICC will be the place for flag off as the WRC Safari Rally returns to its more traditional start, in the heart of the capital city, Nairobi.

SS16 Malewa (9.71kms) on Sunday 27 will indeed be the event’s toughest stretch presenting a rocky terrain, with a lot of ninety-degree junctions across its hilly terrain.

It is of a different character to the Friday and Saturday special stages.

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