•Bhabra said nine-time world champion Sebastian Loeb will make a welcome return to the rally after a 20-year absence.
•Finland's Kalle Rovanpera (Toyota), who has already won four WRC rounds in Monaco, Sweden, Croatia, and Portugal and leads with 46 points— will be one of the frontrunners to challenge Ogier and Loeb.
FIFTY drivers have confirmed participation in the WRC Safari Rally which revs off on June 23 in Naivasha.
Safari Rally clerk of the course, Gurvir Bhabra, said most of the drivers will start jetting in at the end of the week in preparation for scrutineering next week.
“We do expect the majority of the drivers to be here by Friday and Saturday as the build-up to the rally gathers momentum,” added Bhabra.
He said nine-time world champion Sebastian Loeb will make a welcome return to the rally after a 20-year absence.
Loeb is part of a six-car M-Sport World Rally Team line-up for Safari Rally alongside Briton Gus Greensmith, Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux, Craig Breen of Ireland, Martin Prokop (Czech Republic), and Belgian Jourdan Serderdis.
Loeb will be driving in an M-Sport Ford Puma and hopes to renew his rivalry with countryman and defending champion Sebastian Ogier. Bhabra said the cars from the various works teams will arrive this weekend for the rally.
Finland's Kalle Rovanpera (Toyota), who has already won four WRC rounds in Monaco, Sweden, Croatia, and Portugal and leads with 46 points— will be one of the frontrunners to challenge Ogier and Loeb.
Bhabra said local entries for the Kenya National Rally Championship will be finalised on Tuesday next week. “By the close of business on Tuesday next week, we should be able to confirm all entries for the event," he noted.
Bhabra tipped Karan Patel navigated by Tauseef Khan in Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution to perform well. Karan already has five wins under his belt this season. “I expect Karan and Kush to give the event their best shot," he added.
He said he expects a competitive and tough four days of rallying even though his preference would have been a wet rally. “ As always, the Safari will be tough and it's because of this kind of conditions that the top drivers love coming to Kenya to compete," noted Bhabra. Preparation for the event are almost complete according to Bhabra.
“We started preparing for the rally in August 2021 and it's been a meticulous process to ensure everything is in place by the time we start on June 23."