What you need to know:
- These drivers were chosen after an empirical study of all drivers aged 27 and below for the Rally Star programme, noting each and every competitor’s achievements and progression for the last three years, said the WRC Safari Rally CEO Phineas Kimathi to rest speculations of favouritism by a section of rally followers.
- These youngsters may be pioneers in this programme but they have just entered a steep learning curve.
Rallying in Kenya is facing a rebirth for those whose social media timelines are full of WRC videos or many who adore world champion Sebastien Ogier, Ott Tanak or Thierry Neuville.
Your father or mother doesn't have to be a millionaire for you to have the licence to wreck a multi-million shillings machine in the name of racing.
The FIA Rally Star programme will accord you the opportunity to join your idols on the racing road.
But first you must prove that you are a good driver with results to show before your 27th birthday.
National carrier Kenya Airways, now coming out of the Covid-19 business slump, is strategically poised to bounce back in most traditional markets through positive publicity and brand visibility following its Sh10 million sponsorship in kind to three young drivers for the Safari Rally and selected World Rally Championship (WRC) rounds through the Rally Star project.
Kenya Airways, which has been undergoing a rough patch financially as well as unfavourable publicity, stands to reap big.
For example, the company has hired a British consultant to help them on a turn around strategy required by the International Monetary Fund, according to KQ CEO Allan Kilavuka.
“This programme will not make us broke,” he added.
"This is mutually beneficial as we will use KQ to sell Kenya. Big events bring good news. We don't want to be associated with the pandemic. We believe in excellency.
"In this particular event (WRC Safari) we are using our assets through merchandise, inboard and in-houses entertainment channels, website and Msafiri magazine," he said.
The drivers will fly Kenya Airways livery in their three factory prepared Ford Fiestas kindly donated by anonymous well wishers in Europe in a first of a kind arrangement by the International Motorsport Federation (FIA) aimed at creating a production line of new and aspiring talents in this expensive sport.
McRae Kimathi, Hamza Anwar and Jeremy Wahome have been nominated to compete against the best in the WRC in the FIA Rally Star programme for the next two years.
Kenya Airways will fly them to the WRC rounds that they will compete in.
These youngsters have earned these seats by merit following their splendid driving in national and international events.
Kimathi for example was the youngest finisher in the 2019 WRC Safari Rally Candidate Event, the precursor of this year's Safari, returning to the global high profile circuit after 19 years.
He drove with similar purpose in this year's Africa Championship Equator Rally, used as a dry run for the Safari.
He decimated the entry field including most top drivers to finish a career best eighth overall in a Subaru Impreza N12, an admittedly outdated machine compared to the VW Polo R2 cars of eventual winner Carl Tundo.
Wahome started racing at the Rift Valley Motorsports Club Solai circuit with go karts before proceeding abroad where he competed in the British Formula E and Malaysian Formula Three rounds which would have progressively taken him closer to his childhood dream of becoming the first African to compete in the high-end Formula One, also considered the jewel in the crown of auto racing, until he was convinced to switch to rallying.
The speedy Wahome is anything but faint-hearted. The third team member, also the youngest, is Hamza Anwar, 22. He finished fifth in the ARC Equator Rally and is prominent driving in the Tanzanian rallies.
His father Asad Anwar is a veteran rally driver who has raced in Africa and Europe.
These drivers were chosen after an empirical study of all drivers aged 27 and below for the Rally Star programme, noting each and every competitor’s achievements and progression for the last three years, said the WRC Safari Rally CEO Phineas Kimathi to rest speculations of favouritism by a section of rally followers.
These youngsters may be pioneers in this programme but they have just entered a steep learning curve.