•Delegates of the International Motorsport Federation (FIA) are in Kenya to assess the country’s capacity to return to the WRC status.
•The organisation of this year's event will determine whether or not Kenya will be back in the WRC calendar.
The return of Kenya’s iconic Safari Rally to the FIA World Rally Championship has moved a notch higher with WRC Promoter Oliver Ciesla expressing confidence over the progress made thus far by the Local Organizing Committee.
The Promoter said this year's event has demonstrated higher levels of quality and is a true reflection of commitment and aplomb in the organization since its inauguration in 1953.
"It's almost two years since we began the initiative to bring Kenya back to the global stage and I must admit at this juncture that the progress made so far is tremendous. We went through several meetings with Kenyan officials and the Government of Kenya who convinced us that Naivasha would be great. So let's keep our fingers crossed but all in all we have a good rally."
The organisation of this year's event will determine whether or not Kenya will be back in the WRC calendar.
Delegates of the International Motorsport Federation (FIA) are in Kenya to assess the country’s capacity to return to the WRC status.
Led by Michelle Mouton, a former rally driver herself who came second in the 1982 WRC, the FIA team will oversee various facets of Kenya’s preparations for the return to global status, which status the country lost in the year 2002 when the late Colin McRae won the last WRC-status event to be held in Kenya.
Mouton, a rally safety expert, will lead the FIA team to assess the safety measures in place by local motorsport officials to ensure the country gets the approval to return to WRC status.
FIA Liaison Officer Surinder Thatthi said Mouton will give a comprehensive report to the FIA Safety Commission at the conclusion of the three-day Safari Rally event.
Two sporting delegates, Timo Rautianen and Andrew Wheatly, will report on the sporting aspects of the Safari, while Cem Bonvell from Turkey will assess and report on the medical aspects. These delegates hold the key to Kenya’s return to global status.
"FIA has a great desire to come back to Africa following FIA President Jean Todt's visit to the country last year. It is evident that FIA is sympathetic to Kenya's bid on WRC status. The medical delegate is also very happy and has been working hand in hand with the local medical experts," Mr Thatthi said.
WRC Promoter signed a promotion agreement with the Kenya Government’s sports ministry last year with a view to the classic African fixture returning to the WRC calendar in 2020.
Managing director Ciesla inked the contract with Ambassador Kirimi Peter Kaberia, the principal secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Sports and Heritage and Phineas Kimathi, chief executive of the WRC Safari Rally Project in the presence of FIA president Jean Todt.