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December 14, 2018

Changes effected to boost Safari’s return to World Rally Championship

Eric Bengi and navigator Tuta Mionki recieves their awards during a past rally / COURTESY
Eric Bengi and navigator Tuta Mionki recieves their awards during a past rally / COURTESY

The replacement of traditional open-road competitive sections with smoother special stages in private estates and conservancies is set to boost Safari Rally’s return to the World Rally Championship.

This is part of a comprehensive safety plan being fronted by WRC Safari Rally Project as they seek to shore up a format conforming to WRC Standards.

The 2019 FIA WRC Safari Rally candidate event will be held in early July. This will be the first time the will be hosting a candidate event in the African continent which is a precursor to a fully-fledged WRC Safari from 2020.

Meanwhile, WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla and the legendary lady driver Michelle Mouton are set to visit Kenya in a bid to ascertain the progress made on Safari’s candidature so far.

Ciesla, who was a special guest during this year’s Safari, will be the first to arrive in December to assess the country’s preparedness while Mouton, who competed in the WRC for the Audi factory team, registering four victories and finishing runner-up in the drivers’ WRC in 1982, will visit Kenya in January to assess the safety facet of the event.

“Being a modern-era Safari doesn’t necessarily mean that the challenge is diminished. The gravel roads are demanding and we can also look forward to striking images of African wildlife and stunning landscapes.”

Earlier in the year, Peter Kaberia, the principal secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Sports and Heritage, and Phineas Kimathi, chief executive of the project to revive the Safari signed a landmark agreement at the FIA Paris headquarters in FIA President Jean Todt’s presence.

The 2019 edition of the Safari, currently an African Rally Championship round, will run as an official WRC ‘candidate event’ and be observed with a view of joining the WRC calendar in 2020.

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