What you need to know:
- This marked an 19-year wait for the WRC event to return to the country.
- This year’s World Rally Championships (WRC) Safari Rally is expected to attract more than 825 million viewers with Sh6 billion in foreign currency being injected into the economy.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday officially flagged off the World Rally Championships (WRC) Safari Rally at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Nairobi.
This marked an 19-year wait for the WRC event to return to the country and will have 58 crews.
Kenyatta, who is also the patron of the Safari Rally, was joined by FIA president Jean Todt, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, and the WRC Safari Rally CEO Phineas Kimathi for the ceremonial flag off.
""In 2013, I made a pledge to my fellow citizens that we would bring the Safari Rally back home and I also promised we would return the Safari Rally to its position as one of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and the World Rally Championship's toughest rallies. This goal has materialised nine years later into the event that we are witnessing today," Uhuru said in his speech at KICC.
"It has been a pleasure interacting with rally drivers and indeed I look forward to witnessing their expertise in the coming days."
Uhuru thanked Todt, Kimathi and all those who made it possible for the rally to return to Kenya after close to a two decade hiatus.
The first rally driver off the ramp was Kabras Sugar Racing's Onkar Rai, navigated by Drew Sturrock, followed by Equator African Rally Championship winner Carl Tundo who is navigated by Tim Jessop.
Pre-race favourites Sebastien Ogier and Ott Nanak, were also part of the 58 crews flagged off.
Toyota Gazoo Racing's seven-time world champion Ogier, navigated by Julien Ingrassia, expressed confidence that they would emerge victorious in their Toyota.
Estonia's Tanak and his navigator Martin Järveoja, who won the 2019 world championship, said they were excited to be in Africa for the first time, saying they would try and be smart to win the race.
The Kenya Safari Rally is the sixth round of the 2021 World Rally Championship and will now move to the Super Special Stage at Kasarani from 2.08pm before proceeding to Naivasha where they will battle through 18 competitive stages covering 320.19 km from Friday to Sunday.
This year’s World Rally Championships (WRC) Safari Rally is expected to attract more than 825 million viewers with Sh6 billion in foreign currency being injected into the economy.
Cabinet Secretary for Sports Amina Mohamed had on Wednesday disclosed that the traffic will be on online games participants on Safari play station and global television viewership.
Earlier before flagging off the World Rally Championship Safari Rally, President Kenyatta launched the road safety initiative dubbed the “Safari Rally Action for Road Safety Campaign”.
The initiative, which has so far seen 6,300 helmets distributed to boda boda riders, is aimed at promoting road safety through education and the provision of protective gear to the motorists.
“I am pleased to note that, so far, through this initiative 1,000 young people have received road safety training. Many other young people from the Boda boda community are set to receive refresher riding skills and road use information,” President Kenyatta said.
“Let us be our brother’s keepers and promote safe road user behaviour,” he added.
Later President Kenyatta joined motor sports enthusiasts at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani for the Super Special stage of the 2021 WRC Safari Rally.