What you need to know:
- Naivasha has a large number of reputable hotels to accommodate local and international visitors monitoring the rally.
- "Had we chosen to go to a place like Machakos, the rally would have been held on wonderful roads but at the end of the rally, we would have had a challenge accommodating the rally teams. In Nanyuki, the same challenge would arise. Nairobi has heavy traffic jam," said Nazir.
Just why did organisers of the 2021 World Rally Championship Safari Rally settle on Naivasha as the host of the iconic event?
Nazir Yakub, the Deputy Clerk of Course for the WRC Safari Rally, reckons that the new format of the Safari Rally favoured Naivasha.
"The traditional start of WRC Safari Rally has to be in Nairobi and within one hour or one and half hours, everybody competing in the revent should be at the service park, unlike before when the drivers moved with the service park as the rally progressed," Nazir, a retired rally driver, said.
He said servicing of the cars is now centralised, and all drivers are meant to go to the service area twice a day.
"Rally cars must come to the service park after tackling the competitive stages for servicing. Long stages are no longer there and in the current format of WRC. Naivasha was an ideal choice for the WRC Safari Rally and enjoys many advantages over other places. Top on the list is that it is about 90km from Nairobi which is the starting point," added Nazir.
He said Naivasha has large ranches and conservancies which don’t have a large population of human beings.
Nazir and a team led by Clerk of Course Gurvir Bhabra, Media Supervisor Anwar Sidi and Safari Rally CEO Phineas Kimathi burnt the midnight oil to ensure the event was safe for international and local drivers.
"With large conservancies and ranches, the safety of rally cars is assured. When you have a closed rally stage, you are assured that cars, motorbikes, and bicycles will not ride on the rally routes. Safety is guaranteed with such arrangements," he says.
He said Naivasha also has a challenging terrain where rally drivers would love to test their endurance and driving skills.
“Naivasha has a combination of rocky, hills and dusty sections, twisting turns and straight stretches which fits the FIA regulations."
"WRC is run professionally. It is more than a sports body, and there is no room for error. The level of skills and organisation is at a different level. We have gone through baptism by fire, and I hope we will be smiling after the end of the four days because it’s the first of its kind in the entire continent," said Nazir.
“Naivasha also has plenty of wildlife on the floor of the Rift Valley. It is a challenging spectacle."
He said the picturesque scene provides for a win-win situation for the tourism sector and the drivers who will have a chance to sample the country's tourism offering after the Safari Rally is over.
"The bottom line is that WRC Safari Rally is marketing our country and there is no better place to market our country during rallying other than Naivasha," he added.
"WRC wanted to be assured of the safety of the rally drivers, and that there will be no oncoming traffic during the competition, and competing inside ranches scored well for us with regard to safety."
Other things in FIA’s checklist are good internet connectivity around the rallying circuit, good roads leading to the rallying area, and an arrangement that enables the drivers to drive to the service park within two hours after arriving from the nearest international airport.
"A majority of the rally teams will be travelling to Naivasha upon arrival and they should not take more than two hours to reach the service park and hotels because FIA is extremely keen on such details," said Nazir.
Naivasha has a large number of reputable hotels to accommodate local and international visitors monitoring the rally.
"Had we chosen to go to a place like Machakos, the rally would have been held on wonderful roads but at the end of the rally, we would have had a challenge accommodating the rally teams. In Nanyuki, the same challenge would arise. Nairobi has heavy traffic jam," said Nazir.