Kenya Safari Rally finally back in WRC

Kenya’s iconic Safari Rally, one of global motorsport’s legendary contests, is back on the world map after an 18-year hiatus.

A statement on the World Rally Championship (WRC) website on Friday said the return for the first time since 2002 displays a more global profile.

Kenya will host the 14th round of the rallying series from July 19. Japan and New Zealand have also been included with the former having been absent for 10 years.

“It’s no secret we wanted to further globalise the series by incorporating more events outside Europe and we’ve achieved that next year with this exciting new-look calendar,” said Oliver Ciesla, managing director of WRC Promoter, which owns the championship’s commercial rights.

In a statement, President Uhuru Kenyatta hailed the achievement, while looking back on his own pledge in 2013 to push for Safari Rally’s return to the global series.

“I made a promise to the people of Kenya, to return the Safari Rally back to the International Automobile Federation World Rally Championship family. This process has taken us seven years.

“It is my pleasure today to announce to the people of Kenya and Africa that this process has been concluded and the Safari Rally has been included in the International Automobile Federation World Rally Championship 2020 Calendar, marking the return of the World Rally Championship to Kenya and Africa, after 18 years of waiting,” President Uhuru said.

The Safari Rally as it is known today was first held in Kenya in 1953 to commemorate the coronation of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

It started as the East African Safari Rally traversing the three East African countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The Rally developed to become the toughest Rally in the world and was regarded as a true test of man and machine.

In 1973, the Safari was admitted to the prestigious International Automobile Federation (FIA) WRC held within the boundaries of Kenya.