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.
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.
motorsport governing body has rules that all its members must
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
recently-concluded Classic Safari Rally did not adhere to some
of these rules, which meant that it could not get the WRC nod.
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
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.