Ababu Namwamba: Safari Rally is on

Carol Radull

Talanta Hela Sports Technical Committee chairperson Carol Radull (left) receives her appointment letter from Sports CS Ababu Namwamba at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on February 15, 2023.

Photo credit: Ayumba Ayodi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Namwamba hinted that the government will run this year’s Safari Rally on a leaner budget.
  • Thatthi, in a separate interview, said Sikh Union Club will stage the Equator Rally as scheduled.

This year’s World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally and Equator Rally will go on as scheduled, Cabinet Secretary for Sports Ababu Namwamba has assured.

Reprimanding the Kenya Motor Sports Federation (KMSF) board for trying to create confusion over the two rallies, Namwamba Wednesday said that the Equator Rally isn’t a forerunner to the Safari Rally.

After days of speculation and doubts, the Sikh Union Club has finally taken charge of running the Equator Rally from March 17 to 19 in Voi.

This year’s Safari Rally will be staged from June 22 to 25 in Naivasha.
KMSF had cancelled Equator owing to financial constraints, but Namwamba said that the issue wasn’t about resources but underlying issues within the federation.

Namwamba was speaking upon launching the Talanta Hela Council, Sports Technical Committee and Creative Technical Committee at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

The committees were formed by Namwamba alongside the 2023 World Rally Championship Safari Rally Project Steering and Organising in a Gazette notice last Friday.

Namwamba reconstituted the WRC Safari Rally administrative set up with members of both the Steering Committee and Organising Committee out to serve for one year starting January 4, this year.

In some of the changes, Surinder Thatthi was named in the Steering Committee where KMSF chairman Phineas Kimathi will be the secretary.
Kimathi, who was previously the Chairman and CEO, will also be a member in the Organising Committee that has rally driver Carl “Flash” Tundo as the chairman.

The Equator Rally, which is one of the rounds in the 2023 African Rally Championship, was originally organised by the officials under the WRC Safari Rally set-up before the government stepped in to disband the team last Friday.

Namwamba on Tuesday called for a meeting with the KMSF Board and International Automobile Federation (FIA) officials to discuss the changes at the WRC Safari Rally and Equator Rally.

“I needed an explanation on what was going on with the Equator Rally. We were able to iron out that and I gave them one day to come back to me with a plan,” said Namwamba, who promised FIA and Kenyan rally enthusiasts a spectacular Safari Rally to celebrate the event's 70th anniversary.

Nawamba said that it was shameful that Sh2.6 billion was spent on the 2022 Safari Rally yet its staff have gone without salaries.

“It’s criminal and after this audit is concluded, people will have to answer some questions... accountability isn’t negotiable here,” said Namwamba.

“KMSF must clean their act, work better, be democratic and reflect good values of integrity.”

Namwamba hinted that the government will run this year’s Safari Rally on a leaner budget but promised a successful event.

Thatthi, in a separate interview, said the Sikh Union Club will stage the Equator Rally as scheduled.

The rest of officials of the event will remain in their original positions save for the addition of Dali Kalsi as the ASN Steward.

Thatthi said the Ministry of Sports has intervened to guarantee that the event organisers receive the support necessary to make it happen since they recognise the significance of the event.

The two-day rally will be held by the outskirts of Voi, in Taita-Taveta County, where most of the competitive stages will be based around the Taita Estate.

The total transport distance will be 421.08 km while the Competitive distance will be 205.25kms km.  

Leg one transport will be 143.88km, while Competitive will be 159.66km. The Leg Two Transport distance will be 71.95km while the Competitive distance will be 45.59kms.

There will be a total of Two Legs over two days of the competition. Total number of Special Stages will be 10.

This rally will be run in compliance with the FIA International Sporting Code (ISC).

The rest of the programme is as follows:

Leg One: SS1/5 Charcoal 1&2 21.57km 1st car 19:43/13:20: SS2 /6 Camp 1&2 24.02km 1st Car 9:46/14:03, SS3/8  Karani 1&2 23.69km 1st Car  10:19/14:36, SS4 /8. Kamtonga 1&2 10.55km 1st Car 10:52/25:09.

Start of Leg 2: Start: Voi Wildlife Lodge 8:00

SS9 Charcoal 3 21.57KM 1st Car 9:03, SS10 Camp 3 24:02km 1st Car 9:46.
Saturday 18.3.23: 159.66km of Competitive (8 Special Stages). Total number of stages will be 10