KMSF swings into action to address low entry of drivers in races

Phineas Kimathi

Phineas Kimathi, the CEO of the WRC Safari Rally, speaks during a press conference held at the Service Park in Naivasha on June 20, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kadivane says his long-term goal is to graduate to the Kenya National Rally Championship but his car is not eligible for competition as per the FIA homologation rules until recently
  • The Kenya Motorsports Federation Chairman Phineas Kimathi formed a taskforce to look into ways to increase entries in the 2023 national competitions and rope in drivers like Kadivane
  • A new competition structure of 13 classes has been introduced and the overall national champion title scrapped

The sport of rallying is neither elitist nor expensive. It all depends on one’s approach. The majority of the over 3.8 million registered car owners in Kenya are ordinary people.

Four aspiring rally drivers led by John Muchemi Kadivane are using the bottom-up approach to build their dreams.

Using their own money, and with the help of friends and relatives Kadivane, Duncan Maina, Eugene Kariuki and Eric Njogu have acquired modified hand-me-down first generation Subaru Impreza GC8 models whose turbo-powered competition variant was introduced as a standard production car 30 years ago for budget rally drivers across the world.

This model, together with the Mitsubishi Evolution series, were rated as the best standard production cars with a rallying pedigree entered as Group N category in competition back in the day.

The Subaru GC8 mutated into the newer version retailing as the N10-14 series is still the standard car for young petrol-heads in Kenya—they of the Blue Subaru infamy — but utterly competitive in the rallying scene where the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO10, though an outdated technology, rules the roost.

For Kadivane and his friends, these cars are okay to satisfy their thirst to race.

They compete in the autocross, or circuit racing  where rules are liberal, allowing competitors to use ordinary or supped up cars provided they meet basic safety standards.

Kadivane and his friends meet frequently at an abandoned quarry near Ngomongo Police Post to practise before autocross events. They have started a strong fan base of boys and girls residing in Githurai 44 and Ngomongo — the sort of crowd missing in national championship events.

Sometimes they fundraise and approach sponsors to do charity races to raise funds for the poor like last December. Their fans also act as marshals.

Kadivane says his long-term goal is to graduate to the Kenya National Rally Championship but his car is not eligible for competition as per the FIA homologation rules until recently.

The Kenya Motorsports Federation Chairman Phineas Kimathi formed a taskforce to look into ways to increase entries in the 2023 national competitions and rope in drivers like Kadivane.

Waivers on seats, belts, tanks and homologations have been proposed to cut costs. A new competition structure of 13 classes has been introduced and the overall national champion title scrapped. There is a proposal for a Training Rally Championship to be incorporated within the KNRC events.

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