• The Kenyan duo will tackle the prestigious WRC Vodafone Rally de Portugal behind the wheel of an M-Sport Poland prepared Ford Fiesta Rally3 between May 19 and 22.
•Kimathi, who flew to Portugal earlier in the week, said this year is just a learning curve for both driver and navigator.
After their first two World Rally Championship (WRC) events in Sweden and Croatia, McRae Kimathi and his navigator Mwangi Kioni are looking forward to their first gravel event of the season with great expectations.
The Kenyan duo will tackle the prestigious WRC Vodafone Rally de Portugal behind the wheel of an M-Sport Poland prepared Ford Fiesta Rally3 between May 19 and 22.
McRae and Mwangi became the first-ever Kenyan competitors to finish the all-snow WRC Rally Sweden in February before retiring on the last stage of the all-tarmac WRC Croatia Rally last month.
Kimathi nevertheless revealed he has put Croatia behind him, adding that he'll target to drive sensibly enough to survive the gravel terrain in Portugal.
"From what I have gathered from my contacts in Europe, Portugal can be very rough in some places, with very fast sandy roads. The idea is just to push the car to the finish and score some points," said Kimathi.
Kimathi, who flew to Portugal earlier in the week, said this year is just a learning curve for both driver and navigator.
The Kenyan is scoring points in both the WRC3 and Junior WRC categories. He got the opportunity to drive in six WRC events after winning the FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) Junior title.
Last weekend, McRae finished eighth at the Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally, where he was seeking points towrds his continental junior title defence. Uganda's Pearl served as the third round of the FIA ARC.
"This year is just a matter of gaining more seat time as we keep gaining experience. We shall then challenge for the championship title in the years to come," he said, adding: "The reason we've gone to Portugal early is to acclimatise and feel the car quite a bit prior to action."
WRC Vodafone Rally de Portugal is one of the oldest and most popular rounds of the WRC.
Fast and technical gravel roads inland from Porto in the north and centre of the country are soft and sandy initially but can become rocky and rutted for the second pass.
The event has plenty of tricky corners hidden by crests while temperatures can soar in Portugal’s early summer.
Nine-time rally world champion and winner of the opening race of the WRC2022 at the Monte Carlo, Sebastian Leob will be back in the saddle after skipping Croatia and Sweden.
He will be navigated by Isabelle Galmiche in the new hybrid generation of a Rally1, the Ford Puma, which surprised everybody in the cold Monte Carlo track.