Mark the date: All set for bigger Safari Rally

WRC

WRC Safari Rally Media Safety and Route Liaison officials wade their Toyota Hilux through one of the stages in Soysambu during a recce in preparation for the 2023 WRC Safari Rally.

Photo credit: Anwar Sidi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • FIA pick June date for 2023 WRC Safari Rally Kenya round

Safari Rally organisers have made some changes to next year’s route of the World Rally Championship round to make it more exciting yet still challenging.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) Motorsport Council yesterday confirmed that the Safari Rally will be the seventh round of the new look 13-event World Rally Championship (WRC) 2023 fixture.

“This is a mark of seal of approval for the Safari once again,” said Safari Rally Kenya CEO Phineas Kimathi.

“I wish to thank the government for its unwavering support since 2017 in making the Safari as one of the premier round of the World Rally Championship in the world and Africa.

“Our sporting team will continue to work with the government and sponsors, notably KCB Bank, Kenya Airways and Toyota Kenya, in ensuring that the Safari continues to get a mark of approval since it rejoined the championship for the first time in 19 years in 2021.”

The 2023 Safari will be held from June 22 to 25, and Kimathi confirmed that the Safari will be centered in Nairobi and Naivasha just like this year.

Yesterday, the Clerk of the Course, Gurvir Bhabra, and his assistants Nazir Yakub and George Mwangi, alongside Media Safety, Route Liaison and Project Co-ordinator Anwar Sidi confirmed the changes have been made to ensure a more exciting fixture.

Most significantly, the Narasha competitive section has been replaced by Malewa while at Kedong, the sector that had controversial fesh-fesh (fine dust) that choked WRC cars has been removed and the start/finish maps adjusted to yield a new, 18-kilometre stage.

Also, the start of the Geothermal stage has been moved to the Narasha Gate, extending the stage by a kilometre.

“As we speak now, the stages are amazing and wet due to the rains, and I wish the rally could be held right now,” Sidi, also a legendary motorsports photojournalist, said.
The WRC has reverted to its pre-coronavirus Pandemic format as it returns to North and South America, said the championship’s commercial rights holder, WRC Promoter, in a press statement from Zurich, Switzerland, on Friday.

Spain, Belgium and New Zealand will be sitting out.

The WRC will also feature a Central Europe round shared by Austria, Czech Republic and Germany from October 26 to 29. The asphalt rally will be based out of the south-east German city of Passau. Running from January to November, the 2023 calendar features a number of regular stops, along with the return of Mexico and Chile for the first time since Covid-19.

World Rally Championship 2023 Calendar

1: Monte-Carlo 19 – 22 January

2: Sweden 9 – 12 February

3: Mexico 16 – 19 March

4: Croatia 20 – 23 April

5: Portugal 11 – 14 May

6: Italy 1 – 4 June

7: Kenya 22 – 25 June

8: Estonia 20 – 23 July

9: Finland 3 – 6 August

10: Greece 7 – 10 September

11: Chile 28 September – 1 October

12: Central Europe (AUT, CZE, GER) 26 – 29 October

13: Japan 16 – 19 November

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