FIA WRC Safari Rally Candidate Event set for July 2019
The 2019 FIA WRC Safari Rally Candidate Event will be held from July 4 to 7 in a location to be determined after consultation with the FIA Race Delegate legendary Michelle Mouton who is due in January next year, the WRC Safari Rally project CEO Phineas Kimathi has announced.
This is the first time the FIA is hosting a Candidate Event in the African continent which is a precursor to a fully-fledged World Rally Championship Safari from 2020.
Kimathi who was flanked by the Kenya Motorsport Federation (KMSF) General Manager Mwaura Njunguna announced the new date from traditional March when he unveiled the 2019 motorsports calendar.
The July date was agreed upon after consultation with the WRC Promoter as the only viable window of opportunity during the traditional WRC mid season break for two reasons. The FIA and WRC promoter will be fully engaged in organising and observing the Safari and secondly, many top class drivers and teams will have the opportunity to recce in Kenya to have a feel of things.
“Many drivers would like to come to Kenya to do recce as they will have come from South America as well as the WRC promoter too will be available to come and observe the Safari,” said Kimathi.
He also clarified that the current three weeks difference between hosting WRC rounds is a fixture which cannot be altered and it would be hard to run the Safari during Easter holidays which don’t have a fixed date.
“Mouton will inspect the three blocks of the route around Kajiado, Nanyuki, Naivasha and Nakuru; and will recommend accordingly after the end of her visit,” said Kimathi.
Kimathi said that the WRC Safari is a presidential project which was mooted by the Jubilee government in 2013 and all organizational work have been going on smoothly. The government signed an agreement with the WRC promoter to run a Candidate Event leading to a three-year commitment which will be reviewed in 2022.
He has been undergoing orientation programmes at the WRC promoter headquarters in Germany as the first African CEO to organize a WRC Candidate Event.
“The journey to return to the WRC has been long but we have had many supporters,” said Kimathi.
“I know many countries are bidding to enter the WRC but Africa has been behind us.”
Kimathi also announced changes in the 2019 National Competition Rules (NCRs) meant to align Kenya to current FIA rules.
Kimathi said KNRC organisers will create spectator friendly areas with the introduction of ‘power stage’ concept in 2019, “thereby providing better access to the drivers and media”.
“The power stage is a new concept introduced by the FIA and it is held either in the first or last stages basically to motivate drivers where the winner is usually given bonus points.
“Drivers will earn additional 5 points for winning the power stage and bring Rally more to the people,” said Kimathi.
He added that the Board approved changes to the 2019 Rally Sport Sporting Regulations to scrap the National B13 class introduced in 2018.
“This is to align the KMSF with the FIA classes for the homologated cars. The distance between refuels has also been increased from 80 KMS to a 100 KMS maximum, to enable organisers to explore longer and vast stages KMSF have revised the percentage of participation to be eligible for championship from 75% to 80%, this is to encourage the competitors to participate in more events,” said Kimathi.
Proposals to improve the current Rally Raid Championship were approved by the Board, Kimathi added.
“A general outline for Sporting Regulations to improve the route design was agreed. Details of the route to be used during each day of the race are now defined.
“A strategy and action plan for the future of drifting was also presented for implementation by 2020, which outlined the intention to form a KMSF Drifting Commission for 2019 to support in developing grassroots programmes, by 2020 over and above improving the quality and organizational level of the Drifting sport,” he added.
Following the acceptance of the perception of Hill Climb events in 2018, the introduction of new Hill climb Commission was approved, to prepare for 2019 Championship:
The Board also agreed to set up a Developing Motorsports Grassroots and Budget Racing Committee to be headed by legendary Rally driver Azar Anwar to look into a cheaper /affordable car class that can be; homologated through the KMSF in order to promote motorsport in the grassroots level, in an effort to increase participation in the national championship events.
The introduction of new KMSF appeals court was approved to look into competitors grievances.