What you need to know:
- However, it is the entry of Maxine Wahome, the daughter of veteran driver Jimmy Wahome, and Chantal Young who have created a wave among young Kenyans as the only all-ladies crew, determined to take over from Michelle Van Tongren and Safina Khan who wowed in the crowds in the 90s.
- Maxine can spin a wheel and oil herself magnificently under the bonnet to service cars.
World champion Sebastian Ogier, hot from his victory in World Rally Championship (WRC) Rally Italia Sardinia in Italy last Sunday, has promised Kenyans, in his own words, “Mtaona Kivumbi Kasarani” (You will see dust at Kasarani), he told WRC+ TV in Portugal WRC recently.
WRC+ TV has gone an extra mile to bring the drivers closer to the Kenyan fans by asking them to speak a few Kiswahili words, saving the best for the last media publicity which hits the stratosphere one week before the WRC Safari Rally, an event which has also attracted many celebrated personalities across the world.
Ogier was at his sublime best in Italy, leading teammate Elyfn Evans in a rock-stewn course by a massive 46.0 seconds to extend his championship leads by 11 points in his third victory of the season after five rounds. Sardinia was Ogier’s 52 WRC victory.
If Italy was rough, Safari would be hell on earth for Ogier and all top works teams ‘drivers. The big question is whether there will be a high rate of retirements and if the modern WRC car can withstand the beating waiting for them in the “Sleeping Warrior” stage.
At the end of the Sardinia duel, Thierry Neuville was a further 19.2 seconds down below Evans in a Hyundai i20. Toyota now leads the manufacturers' series with 49 points ahead of Hyundai.
Ogier was not even expected to win after hitting loose gravel as the route opener but he managed to stay ahead of charging Hyundai lead drivers 2019 world champion Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo, winner in Portugal recently to finish day one.
These cars are expected at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on June 16 for testing before the start of the Safari Rally that will be returning to the WRC championship after 19 years.
The Safari journey has entered the homestretch, firing the imagination of many here and abroad in a revival crusade for young Kenyans.
Rio Smith, the youngest driver in the Safari at 21 will be navigated by Laban Cliff in a Ford Fiesta R3. Cliff, pulled out of his media business to give the young gun, son of veteran rally driver Don Smith, the guidance he so much needs.
They will fly540 colours and will do the African Rally Championship (ARC) Tanzanian round in a Subaru N16 - the same car the senior Smith used when he won the Africa championship in 2016.
The presence of Rio has brought freshness in the Safari which has also attracted young drivers in their 20s led by twice ARC Safari Rally finisher McRae Kimathi (26), Hamza Anwar (22) and Jeremy Wahome (21).
With proper organisational structures and government support , the Safari is selling itself to the corporate world like hotcakes. Gaming firm Betika last week unveiled a team of four drivers led by Andrew Muiruri, a seasoned racer in the unregulated Time Trial circuit, who has finally graduated to regulated sport.
Many young Kenyans, especially the infamous “blue Subaru boys” are known to show off in these events and street racing which have been a headache to parents and the police.
So as the Kenya Motor Sports Federation (KMSF) grapples with how to mainstream these drivers, Wanyoike, co-driven by Edward Njoroge, will certainly serve as a goodwill ambassador with his entry in the Safari.
Hussein Malik, navigated by Linet Ayuko are also in the Betika team together with Rehan Shah/Harshil Limbani.
However, it is the entry of Maxine Wahome, the daughter of veteran driver Jimmy Wahome, and Chantal Young who have created a wave among young Kenyans as the only all-ladies crew, determined to take over from Michelle Van Tongren and Safina Khan who wowed in the crowds in the 90s.
Maxine can spin a wheel and oil herself magnificently under the bonnet to service cars.
Such is the excitement coming on the eve of the appointment of Martha Koome as the first woman Chief Justice in Kenya and President of the Supreme Court.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed hailed the ladies in the Safari who have completed the talent pipeline President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered opened to ensure the continuity of the Safari Rally now, and in future.