Kenya’s Safari rally has been readmitted in the World Rally Championships (WRC)calendar for the next 3 years after seventeen years of waiting.
The International Federation of Automobile (FIA) said in a statement on Friday that “The addition of Kenya’s iconic Safari Rally, one of global motorsport’s legendary contests, means the WRC returns to Africa, the world’s second-largest continent by size, for the first time since 2002.”
The East African event will form the championship’s eighth round on 16 – 19 July.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said I made a promise to the people of Kenya, to return the Safari Rally back to the International Automobile Federation World Rally Championship family. “It is my pleasure to lead Kenyans in welcoming the 2020 International Automobile Federation World Rally Championship Kenya Safari Rally back to our Land and Nation.”
The @wrcsafarirally returns to the @OfficialWRC Championships after 17 years! One of the most iconic Motorsport events in the world and the only one on the African continent makes a comeback following Kenya’s successful bid to return the event to our shores #TwendeKazi pic.twitter.com/k7cPw9UEYt
— AMB.(Dr.) Amina C. Mohamed (@AMB_A_Mohammed) September 27, 2019
The Safari Rally was first held in Kenya in 1953 to commemorate the coronation of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It featured on the World Championship circuit between 1973 and 2002. However, the 14-leg WRC was dropped in 2002.
Japan and New Zealand were also included in the calendar on a 14-round schedule approved by the FIA, world motorsport’s governing body.
According to FIA, the Safari was notorious for being the WRC’s toughest round as open-road gravel tracks, unpredictable weather and a route three times longer than other rallies created hazards unmatched elsewhere.
“It has evolved to fit the modern-day WRC, but its character remains with challenging closed dirt roads, superb picture-postcard scenery and exotic wildlife.”
To meet the bidding requirements, Kenya held its Safari rally on July 2019. “Kenya has signed a three-year deal with the promoter to run the event as part of the WRC from 2020 to 2022. It’s an exciting project, which we hope to fulfill all its conditions,” said WRC Safari Rally Project CEO Phineas Kimathi.