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Safari Rally inches closer to bagging World Rally status    

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- For nearly three decades, Safari Rally was the sport that put Kenya on the global map after athletics.

The championship was the main event for fans and families during the long Easter weekend that runs between Friday and Monday.

The competition brought most of the big names in motorsport and car manufacturer works teams to Kenya to participate in what was dubbed locally as competition between “man and machine”.

All this came to an end in 2002 when the Safari Rally lost the much-coveted World Rally status after government funding dried up and the organizers’ failure to adhere to the Federation Internationale de I’Automobile’s (FIA) guidelines on spectator safety.

However, things are looking up to motorsports enthusiasts after the chairman of the Kenya Motor Sports Federation (KMSF), Supi Soin, recently announced that plans are at an advanced stage to return the Safari Rally to World Rally Championship (WRC) status.

“We want to get WRC candidature event by 2019. The national competition rules are much stronger and clearer with stringent organizer obligations. It has been a difficult but rewarding task in trying to improve the status of the Kenya National Rally Championship series, which includes the Safari Rally,” he remarked.

He said that in the past four years, there have not been driver protests during the rally where a driver stopped within a competitive stage and refused to continue.

“There were also no protests on any times given for flying finishes as we introduced policing at each of the stages and in addition we have taken rallying to private land, which is safer,” he stated.

The global motorsport governing body has rules that all its members must adhere to.

One of FIA’s key objectives is to encourage and implement the adoption of common regulations for all forms of motor sports and series across the world.

The recently-concluded Classic Safari Rally did not adhere to some of these rules, which meant that it could not get the WRC nod.

However, Soin pointed out that KMSF cannot do it alone, and asked all stakeholders to help the federation to campaign for the Safari Rally to get a WRC status.

Rallying is an expensive sport, a fact which is not lost to organizers and participants.

Speaking after the conclusion of the Classic Safari Rally in Mombasa, Soin said that the president of FIA, Jean Todt, had helped the KMSF to raise 125,000 Euros, which would be used for training modules.


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