“The Safari Rally is without doubt back home…” these were the sentiments of our President as he ended the Rally in Naivasha on Sunday. Indeed the Rally has made an explosive return in our tracks after a nineteen-year hiatus. It is not only here with us but also here to stay, the government of Kenya in collaboration with the International Automobile Federation [FIA] as well as the World Racing Championship [WRC] have announced that Kenya will host Safari Rally for the next five years.
This is a breath of fresh air to our country’s economy which has been hit hard by the COVID 19 pandemic. In a statement by Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, she stated that the Safari Rally is supposed to inject around 55 million us dollars, approximately 6 Billion Kenya shillings into the country’s budget.
All we can say is that it would not come at a better time, the country has been struggling a lot with foreign investors and tourism. It has shown that truly Kenya is capable of hosting an international event all we need is a chance to prove ourselves.
The Safari rally in Kenya dates back to 1953 to honour Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II coronation. In 1960 it was renamed the East African Safari Rally and kept the name till 1974 when it became the Kenya Safari Rally. It became famous because of its competitive nature and one of the world racing championships’ toughest round. It took the form of special stages in 1996 until 2002 when the Safari Rally was relegated from the WRC due to lack of finances. Because of this, the President has told his current administration to set to work to ensure that next year’s safari Rally will be a success.
The rally was of course a platform in which corporate giants used to show their might and willingness to support the country. Safaricom, KCB, KQ and Toyota were the official partners in this year’s Safari rally competitions. KBC and Capital FM being the country’s official broadcasters.
Kenyans are not anywhere close to shying away from the life of the party which is what exactly the Rally came with. Nairobi felt very cold and deserted since everyone migrated to Naivasha. The Subaru Boys of course spearheading this fleet with city damsels on their front seats. All roads led to Naivasha where the rally was supposed to end. Event organizers set up shop in Naivasha and for sure anyone with a business in Naivasha ripped the fruits of the Rally.
This, however, cannot be said for those plying that route to their different destinations since the road was a mess. Some drivers had to sleep on the road since the closure of some roads led to a heavy jam along that route. However, we cannot plant a rose and not expect thorns it is the nature of any beautiful thing.
The saying that goes ‘a Toyota is always in front of you’ was once again proven right the french Toyota driver Sebastian Ogier and co-driver Jullian Ingrassia led the Toyota team to their top position. This is the french man’s 53rd career victory and his fourth this season. However, the rally had its share of bad luck on the Kenyan side following the grisly accident of Kenyan driver Taj Vir Rai who broke his leg and had to be airlifted for medical attention. This however cannot be said for Kenya’s Onkari Rai who on Sunday afternoon was ranked as the highest local. With more of these competitions in our country, we hope that locals will be able to triumph in the rallies to come.