Party mode as Safari Rally draws to a close

safari Rally

Fans enjoy themselves at the historical Hell’s Gate National Park in Naivasha on June 26, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The curtain fell, a successful event and three more years for Kenyans to show their love for a sport that is becoming more popular each day.
  • Their high numbers a testimony.    

It was a classic end to the high-billed Word Rally Championship Safari Rally at the historical Hell’s Gate National Park that was teaming with a sea of humanity that included President Uhuru Kenyatta.

His presence enlivened the competition.

He watched as boisterous drivers “dance in the sand,” blowing dust that at times settled at the dais but that is what the President came to see and was clearly thrilled. From the dais Kenyatta was driven to the podium, some 300 metres with his security detail in tow.

After Finland’s winner Kalle Rovanpera and his racing team took the podium, they popped the champagne and the youngish Finnish driver splashed the crew with the sparkling wine.

The Head of State watched in amusement as the winners enjoyed themselves, chasing each other around the podium.

Hell’s Gate National Park

A fan enjoys herself at the historical Hell’s Gate National Park in Naivasha on June 26, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

When it was time to leave, Kenyatta was almost stopped by adoring rally drivers. They jostled to greet him, giving the security detail a hectic time.

But despite the hawk-eyed officers struggling to contain the surging crowd, the President obliged and posed for a moment taking selfies with some of them with others in the background pleading with him to walk to where they were.

“The President is simply loved. His is down to earth and mingling with the masses shows his cool demeanour. He is humble,” remarked a rally fan.

Being the last stage of the grueling motorsport event, the experienced drivers swaggered in the risky and dusty terrain and that is what the rally spectators came to see.

The sharp turn taken with a skid was the hallmark of the event ,some of the rally fans with hearts in their mouth due to the dare devil antics displayed by the flying WRC drivers.

Hell’s Gate National Park

Fans enjoy themselves at the historical Hell’s Gate National Park in Naivasha on June 26, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

“It shows power, grit and machine handling skills by the drivers. Basically those moments are what brought me to Naivasha,” said a rally fan John Thama.

“The prediction came to pass, I put a bet on the Toyota team to dominate the event and they did,” he said, the deja vu feeling showing. Am extremely happy,” he added.

The super stage was the epicenter of the global competition that was held in an area dominated by the wild animals that, somehow, retreated to the interior part of the park, perhaps their serene nature disturbed by the croaky rally cars.

And when the eventual winner, 21-year-old motorsport sensation romped home he was celebrated by the Maasai dancers in their traditional regalia. They jumped and the winner joined them. It was his moment.

Among those tasked with celebrating with the winner were local traditional guides, Sammy Kedienye and his mate, Peter Narankuk. Both prior to the enviable task could not hide their joy.

“We were selected to entertain the podium finishers. We shall be beamed live globally and we shall be famous…it is an honour to have such a moment with the greatest motorsport icons… me and my colleagues will archive the minute the hour,” said Kedienye.

In a traditional red shuka Narankuk was over the moon with joy. Never in his life did he ever think of sharing a podium with world greats.

“I have now words to describe the feeling. Hells Gate is a heritage home for members of the Maasai community but such time was unfathomable, it will forever remain etched in my mind,” he explained.

And the two put their best foot forward. The wriggled their necks-signature dancing skills for the community that has fiercely stuck to the age old tradition.

The two promised to use the moment to market their tour guiding work.

“We are coming from a period where international travels were restricted. With pictures out there with the rallying greats, it is a chance for a fortune change both for the park and the community members. We are looking forward to a bright future,” said Narankuk.

The curtain fell, a successful event and three more years for Kenyans to show their love for a sport that is becoming more popular each day.

Their high numbers a testimony.    

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