By Ben Ochieng
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya will lobby
for the return of the Safari Rally to the World Rally
Championships (WRC) series, a senior official said on Wednesday.
Kenyan Commissioner for Sports, Gordon Oluoch, told officials of
the Kenya Motor Sports Foundation (KMSF) to furnish his office
with details that are required to return the event to world
"Older Kenyans recall with nostalgia the days when the Safari
Rally was part and parcel of their lives.
"We want to return the rally so that we can continue from
where we left," Oluoch said on Wednesday during the launch of
the 2016 rally season, which begins on Feb. 27.
The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) removed
the rally from its world calendar in 2002 after years of
expressing its reservations on Nairobi's handling of the event
and over issues concerning distance covered, security of drivers
and spectator safety.
The world motor sports governing body had initially directed
Safari Rally organizers to reduce the distance of the grueling
event that brought top ranking drivers to Kenya in order to
synchronize it with 14 other international rallies staged under
the auspices of FIA to make the East African event conform to
The rally suffered a setback in 2000 when FIA moved the rally
from its traditional April date of rain and mud to the less
dramatic of cold and dusty July.
The event was replaced by Turkey's Anatolian Rally.
Phineas Kimathi, a director at KMSF, said the association
will start by first deviating from open public road stages to
serene private farm closed roads where safety is guaranteed.
"As a first step towards gaining acceptability from FIA, we
will start by confining all spectators to designated stages and
they will be required to park their vehicles and walk to the
stages without interfering with rally traffic," the former rally