NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 24 – Here we go! The Safari Rally has officially returned to the World Rally Championship Calendar after President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off drivers at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) on Thursday afternoon.
Seven-time World Champion and current log leader Sebastian Ogier was among those to be flagged off by the Head of State before other drivers vroomed off the ramp as well.
Onkar Rai was the first off the ramp while among the Kenyan drivers who were flagged off include Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo, navigated by Tim Jessop.
The Head of State was accompanied by the FIFA president Jean Todt, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, Safari Rally CEO Phineas Kimathi among other dignitaries.
President Kenyatta has said he is proud to see the Safari Rally return to the WRC calendar for the first time in 19 years, saying it is a journey that started all the way back in 2013.
“In 2013 I made a pledge to my fellow citizens that we will bring the Safari Rally back home and I also promised that I will return the Safari Rally to the top as one of the FIA and WRC toughest rallies. This call has materialized nine tears later in the event we are witnessing today,” President Kenyatta stated.
After the flag off at KICC, the drivers will head to the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani 4.8km Twin Track Super Special Stage where fans will be able to watch the drivers do their stunts and entertain before they depart for the business end of the rally in Naivasha.
Meanwhile, international drivers are expecting a competitive rally as they begin the sixth stage of the WRC competition.
“The roads will be demanding but at the same time there is some beautiful scenery and lots animals. It is tough but exciting at the same time. I felt good on the recce because this is something different from what I have been used to. I will just take it easy and try to come through basically,” said Olivier Solberg.