What you need to know:
- Budding driver finishes in an impressive eighth place in the ARC Equator Rally.
- Rising rally driver McRae looks to fill the big shoes of his famous father Phineas Kimathi.
Being compared to your father, and especially if he is a high achiever, can be quite daunting.
This is where McRae Kimathi, 26, finds himself. The rookie finished in an impressive eighth place in the recently held African Rally Championship (ARC) Equator Rally in Naivasha.
The new kid on the block could be our own Lewis Hamilton in the making (Lewis is a British seven-time Formula One World Rally Championship winner.)
McRae, named after the 1995 World Rally Championship (WRC) winner the late Colin McRae, is the son of Kenya Motor Sports Federation President Phineas Kimathi.
An accomplished rally driver in his heyday, the senior Kimathi is also the chief executive officer of the WRC Safari Rally that returns to the WRC calendar after a 19-year hiatus. The WRC Safari Rally will be held on June 24-27.
McRae is recreating the story of former drivers Patrick Njiru, the late Jonathan Toroitich and his father, Phineas, who announced their arrival on the rally scene with a bang.
McRae is like a tornado sweeping through a sleepy village. But he prefers to remain behind the scenes, and not bear the burden of his famous father - Phineas - the baby-faced, amiable, happy-go-lucky guy.
However, beneath his persona, is an iron spirit that fought for the return of the Safari Rally to the WRC calendar.
In McRae, signs of good upbringing are evident. The young man is determined to shape his own destiny.
He is employed on contract by his mother, Jane Kimathi, the CEO of San Valencia Hospitality. Jane is a no-nonsense disciplinarian.
The lanky lad, who is juggling between school and work, is destined for greatness.
He drove an outdated Subaru Impreza N12 in the Equator Rally on April 24, which is mechanically inferior to the fire-spitting R5 machines. The standard car for boy racers was tuned to perfection by Tams Racing Team of Asad Khan.
McRae’s love for motorsport started at 12-years-old when the Subaru Impreza attracted him to rallying.
On October 7, 2012, Phineas allowed his son to reverse his rally prepared Subaru Forrester in Kitsuru, Nairobi. But McRae hit an electric post. “It was embarrassing. We did not go to church. The whole estate didn’t have power. I regret it, and I say sorry.”
“I can’t be compared to my father. At 17, I rolled his car and I realised my limits,” recalls McRae. After the incident, his father commanded him to use boda bodas to run errands.
“My grandmother heard about the incident and told me that she saw me in my father. It’s in the blood,” he said.
In 2018, McRae entered the annals of history as the youngest African driver to finish the ARC Safari Rally.
What next? “Gimme a car, and I will rock and roll,” he replies. His parting shot: “Do not drink and drive, it is dangerous.”