What you need to know:
- The Safari will be a feast of speed should Ogier and Loeb be paired at the Kasarani Super Special Stage. Loeb was last here in 2002 when he finished fifth in a Citroen Xsara.
- Ford has also confirmed the participation of Craig Breen, Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux.
- Toyota confirmed Ogier, who crashed in Portugal last weekend and finished 51st overall, on Monday.
The Narasha –Kengen Geothermal stage is only 26km long but a true test for man and machine, and a reincarnation of the original Safari Rally.
The stage is a mixture of rough, sweeping corners. It is the only stage that will be run on open roads.
Narasha road branches on the left after entering the Hells Gate National Park from Oserian side on Moi South Road.
It is an open countryside settled by very excited locals who cannot wait to welcome the world on Sunday morning and midday.
They have also vowed to keep their animals in their bomas and offered to marshal the entire route.
This is the first initiative to directly involve locals in managing the Safari and brining the event closer to the people.
It is here where the Safari will be won or lost. It is a section that in the older days would be dubbed “a sting in the tail” especially in the third leg through the Mt Kenya region where most drivers retired with the finish line on sight.
This year’s Safari, which has attracted 29 drivers. Nine of them will be Kenyans subject to the FIA approval.
Safari champion Sebastien Ogier of France in a Toyota GR Yaris healines the entry list and will come head to head with nine times world champion and compatriot Sebastien Loeb in a Ford Puma, winner of the season-opening Monte Carlo.
Four ladies have also entered led by Italian Fabrizia Pons, 66, the oldest driver in the line-up, who will co-drive Kenyan Piero Canobbio in a Hyundai 125 R5. Interestingly, Pons and Michele Mouton finished third in the 1983 Rally.
She also co-drove former Kenyan champion Patrick Njiru and Travis Pastrana in the 2011 East African Classic Safari.
The Safari will be a feast of speed should Ogier and Loeb be paired at the Kasarani Super Special Stage. Loeb was last here in 2002 when he finished fifth in a Citroen Xsara.
Ford has also confirmed the participation of Craig Breen, Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux.
Toyota confirmed Ogier, who crashed in Portugal last weekend and finished 51st overall, on Monday.
The eight-time world champion will miss Rally Italia Sardegna and his seat will be taken by Esapekka Lappi.
Ogier will team up with the latest rally sensation to hit the scene, 21-year-old Kalle Rovanpera, championship leader with straight victories in Sweden, Croatia and Portugal.
Katamota Katsuta and Elfyn Evans are the other Toyota drivers. The Japanese manufacturer will be picking the race from where it left last year.
Ogier was the unlikely winner after assured leader Thierry Neuville lost the race when the right rear damper of his Hyundai I20 broke after hitting a rock on the last day.
Ogier, who at one time was lying seventh overall last year, crawled back into contention with a remarkable drive of the last day and was able to snatch the lead from Katsuta to lift the title with a 21.8 seconds gap.
The man of the moment, Rovanpera, son of Harri Rovanpera, second in 2002 Safari in a Peugeot 206 WRC, has matured overnight and will be meeting Oliver Solberg, 20 who Hyundai has enlisted for the Safari.
Only nine Kenyans have forwarded their entries led by Karan Patel in a Ford Fiesta R2. Others are the four drivers under the FIA Rally Star programme -- McRae Kimathi, Jeremy Wahome, Hamza Anwar (Ford Fiestas R3) and Maxine Wahome (Subaru Impreza), one of the four lady drivers in the Safari.
Other Kenyans are Evans Kavisi, and Nikil Sachania. More entries are expected in the coming days.
The Safari features 19 special stages covering almost 365km of competition. Meanwhile, top security officers led by the Rift Valley police commandant Tom Mboya have formed a security group under the command of Police Commissioner Julius Kabiru to ensure the safety of drivers, fans, and local animals.