• The Safari Project secretariat at Moi International Stadium, Kasarani has been working round the clock to beat key deadlines set by the world governing body, FIA, in regards to organisation.
• Regulations will follow the Rally Guide which was released some few weeks ago detailing key facets of the iconic event.
Despite postponement and cancellation of majority of events on the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar due to COVID-19, preparations for Safari Rally Kenya are ongoing.
A statement from the WRC Promoter Managing Director Oliver Ciesla said FIA is still monitoring the prevailing health situation and will advise accordingly when the global season will resume.
Safari Rally slated for July 16-19 is the next round on the world series after the rest of the first half events were put off.
“FIA and the WRC Promoter remain focused on the need to keep professional and private customer, team drivers and sponsors engaged and viable in regard to concerns for when the season can resume."
"Our goal is to continue to monitor the situation as best as we can, exploring the situation around the pandemic and government restrictions. No decision on event dates will be made before updates on respective emergency status are available. We remain committed to continuing with as many rallies as possible,” Ciesla’s statement read.
The Safari Project secretariat at Moi International Stadium, Kasarani has been working round the clock to beat key deadlines set by the world governing body, FIA, in regards to organisation.
Event Clerk of the Course Gurvir Barbra said Supplementary Regulations (SRs) for the 2020 WRC Safari edition will be published on May 16.
There has been quite a lot happening in terms of administrative work.
Recently, WRC Safari Rally CEO Phineas Kimathi presented the 2020 Safari route course to manufacturers in Europe as is the precedence with FIA requirements.
Regulations will follow the Rally Guide which was released some few weeks ago detailing key facets of the iconic event.
“Regulations on May 16 will be published 18 years since the previous WRC Safari Rally version were released,” said Gurvir.
Last month, the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage clarified that the forthcoming WRC Safari Rally hadn’t been postponed as earlier reported in a local daily.
The Ministry, through its Twitter handle, revealed that there has been ongoing consultations between Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, Principal Secretary Joe Okudo, the Kimathi, President of the FIA Jean Todt and the WRC Promoter Ciesla regarding the status of the event following the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Tweet said: “Those discussions are still ongoing and no decisions have been made yet. The leadership of the Ministry, the WRC Safari Rally Organising Team, our partners at the FIA and the WRC Promoter will continue to engage as the current global pandemic unfolds.”
Argentina, Portugal and Sardinia (Italy) have been affected while Round Three in Mexico was cut short due to travel restrictions occasioned by the virus.
Rally Argentina was postponed and going by the South American country’s government restrictions, any rescheduled date won’t be possible until the last quarter of 2020. Rallye de Portugal was cancelled while Sardegna was postponed.
For Safari Rally, which will be followed by Finland, planning continues though the Kenyan government has banned all passenger flights ostensibly to bar entry to people from countries affected by the pandemic.
The Safari is to count towards the fifth round of the KCB Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) which has only run two rounds — Guru Nanak and Nyahururu.
It is also to count towards the fifth round of the FIA African Rally Championship which has run one event in Ivory Coast (Bandama Rallye) and had York Rally of SA and Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally called off.
The Safari is programmed to mark the beginning of the second half of the 2020 campaign following what was to be a mid-season break.
The Safari, which means journey in the Swahili language, was regarded as one of motorsport’s most prestigious and celebrated events of its time, before departing the championship in 2002.
It was famed for being by far the WRC’s toughest round. Rocky and rutted open-road gravel tracks, unpredictable weather which could transform dry and dusty trails into glutinous mudbaths in minutes and a route three times longer than other rallies created hazards unmatched elsewhere – but also ensured a Safari win was one of motorsport’s most coveted prizes for manufacturers.
The event is organised by the WRC Safari Rally Project, a joint venture between the Kenyan Government Sports Ministry and the Kenya Motor Sports Federation, has evolved to fit the modern-day WRC. But its character remains with challenging closed dirt roads, stunning picture-postcard scenery and exotic African wildlife.