•The CS also noted that the corporate world will also support an organised series, hence the need to re-organise the motorsports space.
•“I want to see a serious KNRC back and a better structured Kenya Motor Sport Federation. I am asking you as your Cabinet Secretary to organise that space,”— CS Ababu
Entries for the nine-leg Kenya National Rally Championship have dwindled over the past few years.
This has been occasioned by the current economic downturn and adverse effects of Covid-19 which compelled drivers to pack their rally contraptions in their backyards.
But following the hosting of three successful WRC Safaris (20211-2023), the Government of Kenya is now expressing interest to revamp the dwindling fortunes of competitors; and indeed the KNRC which has been in existence since the 1960s.
The move, according to Sports Cabinet Secretary, Ababu Namwamba, will enable local drivers to gain the much-needed seat time in the run-up to the WRC Safari Rally gravel event— hitherto the World Rally Championship’s toughest fixture.
Speaking during a drivers’ dinner to acknowledge and honour the performance of the 16 crews who took part in the 2023 Safari, the CS remarked: “We can’t continue running an ineffective Kenya National Rally Championship.”
“Our drivers want to be competitive throughout the year. And by being competitive, they’ll be better prepared for the WRC series. The best way to do it is to have a well-organised, well-structured, competitive national series and Government will support it.”
The CS also noted that the corporate world will also support an organised series, hence the need to reorganise the motorsports space.
“I want to see a serious KNRC back and a better-structured Kenya Motor Sport Federation. I am asking you as your Cabinet Secretary to organise that space,” CS Ababu added.
The function also feted drivers who retired during Safari including Jeremiah Wahome, Hamza Anwar, Evans Kavisi, Jennifer Ayietsa and Karan Patel.
It also acknowledged all sponsors for keeping the event going. They are GOK (main sponsor), KCB Bank, Talanta Hela, Kenya Wildlife Service, Wildlife Research and Training Institute (hosts of the rally HQs, media centre and service park), Safaricom’s M-Pesa, and Kenya Airways.
Carl Tundo was leading Kenya and a podium finisher of WRC2. Current KNRC leader Jasmeet Chana was the second-placed Kenyan driver on Safari. McRae Kimathi also took a WRC3 podium in an M-Sport Poland-prepared Ford Fiesta Rally3.
Tundo, who is also the chairman of the Organizing Committee, called on the corporate world to resume their support for all forms of motorsports.
Tundo, who competed in a Skoda Tabia Rally2, revisited days when the iconic Safari world attracted up to 80 cars and the time fans thronged the stages in their hordes.
Tundo said: “I take this opportunity to thank all sponsors who have made a difference in the sport over the years. I particularly want to thank KCB Bank not only for their support of WRC but for keeping the sport going from 2003 when Kenya lost the World Rally Championship status. We want you back in the sport.”
Tundo added: “The WRC is not just a weekend event. I would love to see at least 5 percent of the proceeds of the Safari trickle down to other forms of motorsports like autocross, karting and many more. Safari Rally is nothing without local drivers and it’s nice to see many locals and ladies participating.”