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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya planning to stage Safari Rally as part
of second round of Africa Championships   

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s premier motorsport event Safari rally will in 2019 be staged as a candidate event for the World rally Championships (WRC), officials said on Thursday.

Surinder Thatthi, the International Federation of Automobile (FIA) Africa vice president said on Thursday the event, which will be held on March. 17-18 will only serve as the second round of the Africa Rally Championship.

He, however, warned that safety of spectators and drivers is paramount if they are to continue on their path to returning to the 13-tier World Rally Championships in 2020.

“Of course this year’s race will have the FIA and WRC Promoter on the ground. They are keen to see what we are planning for the 2019 candidate event, which will determine if we will be allowed to return to the WRC,” said Thatthi.

“If we meet the standards required and get government support and finances and impress FIA officials, then Kenya will host a WRC round at least three years from now,” said Thatthi.

It is 15 years since the Safari rally was axed from the World Rally Championships mainly due to poor safety measures, lack of sponsorship and government support.

With FIA President Jean Todt expected in the country next week, Kenya will seek to tie down the loose ends and pledge to fund and support the event to have it back to the WRC. It will be Todt’s third visit in four years to Kenya.

Todt, in his second visit in 2016, said it will make the WRC complete by having one leg in Africa in order to have a global appeal. Currently the WRC is staged in Monaco, Sweden, Mexico, France, Argentina, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Finland, Germany, Spain, England and Australia.

“Africa is a very key region for the FIA but the necessary guarantees set by the FIA must be met for Safari Rally to be readmitted,” he said.

The Safari Rally, which is arguably the most difficult rally to conquer, started in 1953 and remained the top spot in the WRC until 2002.

             

 

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