Today’s Safari Rally is not a rally, says legendary navigator Pauru Choda

The legendary Rally navigator Pauru Choda has disclosed that the older version of the Safari Rally was notorious and the most difficult in the WRC championship.

She said the arduous conditions, such as the constantly changing weather and the very rough roads often rife with sharp rocks, made life very difficult for team personnel and  repairs were constantly having to be made to the cars, which added to the elapsed time of the competitors.

Speaking to KBC Legends Edition host Catherine Kasavuli, she said, “the rally of today is not a rally. In our time, the rally was about 6,000 kilometres and we went through dust, rough, mountains etc. Now it is a track race”.

Unlike previous Safari rallies the cars had very limited modifications to cope with hazards. Some teams have elected to reinforce sections of the cars, but there won’t be any bullbars or snorkels fitted as seen in the past to cope with the terrain and wildlife.


Paulo Choda (extreme left) and her late safari rally driver Prem Choda(right)

Teams were offered the opportunity to request changes but elected against pursuing extensive Safari modifications, given the extra expense to homologate parts, and that this is the final year of the current specification cars before 2022’s new Rally1 hybrid cars.

“My husband and I could rally day and night, we spent sleepless nights on the road.Many thought I’m abnormal when I went on safari rally with my husband. But after I finished the 1974, 1975 and 1976 rallies, I gained respect from many” she added.

Pauruchistry and her late husband Prem Kumar Singh Choda captivated the nostalgic Safari world in the 1970s and 80s competing in more than 10 Safari Rally events through to the late 1980’s.

The husband and wife crew didn’t just savor the intensity and gusto of what the fabled Safari had to offer back then, but saw rallying technology morph through different guises, from the endurance drive to the present day special stage sprint format.

The two-at-a-time Super Special Kasarani (4.84km), north-east of the city centre, sent competitors on the 100km journey back to the Kenya Wildlife Training Institute service park in Naivasha.

Sunday’s finale spans the north and south sides of Lake Naivasha. Two loops of the forested Loldia (11.33km) to the north and Hell’s Gate (10.56km) to the south sandwich the rocky Malewa (9.71km).

Organizers announced on Tuesday they had pulled it out of the Africa Rally Championships calendar to focus on efforts geared towards a return to the World Rally Championships (WRC) roster for 2017.

Kenya has one more edition of the annual showdown to lay measures before requesting world body, FIA, to consider next year’ s as a test event for the global championship.

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