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President Uhuru Kenyatta flags off 51 cars in Kenya Safari Rally

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta summed up the country’s expectation to see the Safari Rally return to the World Rally Championships on Friday when he flagged off the 51 cars competing in this year’s event.

Kenyatta said the Safari Rally is held in high esteem in Kenya and is very much part of the national psyche, started in 1953 as part of the coronation of the British Queen Elizabeth.

It was part of the World Rally Championship for many years until 2002, when it was axed for lack of finance and government support.

However, support from the International Automobile Federation (FIA) whose president Jean Todt is also a UN special envoy on road safety, visited Kenya and met Kenyatta in 2015, the event is now running as a Candidate race for the WRC this year.

After this hurdle, the Safari rally will be back in the 14-leg WRC starting 2020.

"Rallying has deep roots in Kenya’s national psyche.

"Many generations of Kenyans were raised against the background of impressive rally races, criss-crossing our nation, and looking up to motoring legends," said Kenyatta on Friday in Nairobi.

"I am confident that not only will this Safari Rally being a full series event for the WRC, but also the Kenyan flag will feature on the winning podium.

"I can confirm that the government through the ministry of sports is eager to lend a hand wherever the industry and sponsors may require."

FIA’s president Jean Todt in his visit to Kenya in 2015, said it was not right for the WRC not to have a leg in Africa and encouraged local organizers to improve safety of fans, drivers and crews to secure back the event in the global circuit.

Kenyatta acknowledged Todt support for the duration of the dream to have Safari Rally back to the WRC.

"We are committed to meeting all FIA regulations, standards and requirements so that Kenya may once again feature at the apex of global rallying," he assured.

FIA Safety Delegate, Michele Mouton, and her team are overseeing the running of the event and will report back to the Monaco based headquarters before Safari rally can be evaluated and readmitted in the WRC next year.


Foreign drivers see dust as Baryan leads quest for Africa Rally Championship

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Manvir Baryan and his British partner Drew Sturrock might have missed to win the Safari Rally, but the duo have hit the jackpot as the best ranked crew in the battle for the Africa Rally Championship (ARC).

The bragging rights went to Baldev Singh Chager, navigated by Ravi Soni in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, who secured their third career Safari Rally win ahead of rival Carl Tundo, who was navigated by Tim Jessop.

The duo however, are not enlisted in the battle for the ARC.

It was third placed Baryan who claimed the maximum points as he opens a wider gap over his closest rival and Zambian Leroy Gomes in the FIA Africa Rally Championship contest.

Baryan’s wait for his maiden Safari rally win continues despite a big success in the rest of rallies across the continent in the ARC.

He was disappointed after checking at the final control in the third position.

"That final stage was pathetic and should not have been allowed.

"Our car sucked in lots of dust until the radiator was blocked.

"The temperature gauge was reading 130 degrees.

"We lost over six minutes to clean it by then two cars had overtaken us.

"Not happy at all," said Baryan.

Baryan, who is the reigning two-times African Champion, is yet to lay his hands on the coveted Safari Rally despite his dominance in the ARC.

Last month, Manvir in a Skoda Fabia R5 secured a third successive win on Zambia International Rally where he bagged 50 maximum points to go 70 points clear.

His performance in the Safari, which places him top in the ARC will see him widen the point gap as he bagged 50 more.

Gomes, who was fifth in the Safari Rally, had romped home fourth in South Africa and second at the Zambia Rally.

Baryan had won the season opening Bandama Rallye of Cote d’Ivoire and the Gomes Zambia International Rally.

The 2019 ARC is counting towards FIA African Rally Championship for Drivers and Co-Drivers, FIA ARC Manufacturers Cup and FIA ARC Cup for Drivers and Co-Drivers using 2WD and normally aspirated cars of maximum 1600cc.

Meanwhile, four sets of foreign crews performed commendably well to finish in the Top-10 of the famous Safari rally. They included Leroy Gomes (Zambia), Jassy Singh (Zambia), Giancarlo Devine (Italy) and Yassin Nasser (Uganda).

The event is vying for full WRC status in 2020 and was being observed by some of the most senior officials from the world motor sports body, FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) led by safety delegate Michelle Mouton.


Foreign drivers target to conquer tough WRC’s Safari Rally

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Zambian duo Jassy Singh and Leroy Gomes seek to dominate the Safari Rally, which will start on Friday in Nairobi.

The 50 million shilling (500,000 U.S. dollars) budget rally has attracted over 10 foreigners as it serves as a candidate event for the World Rally Championship (WRC) and a fourth round of the African Rally Championship (ARC).

Gomes, who is a leading contender in the ARC, said Thursday that he is excited to be back for the Safari after gracing last year’s event.

"We are in high spirits with big smiles as we begin our journey to the Safari Rally in Kenya.

Safari has always been a good event, a finish will be good for us," said Gomes, who is running a Ford Fiesta R5.

Gomes finished fourth during the ARC second round in South Africa York Rally and will seek to win in Nairobi to widen the point gap with Kenya’s Manvir Baryan.

"I have a point to prove in the safari rally.

"Twice, I failed to win it and hopefully, I will be lucky on the third asking.

"But Safari rally is a long and tough motor event with tons of competition," he said.

Uganda has the biggest chunk of foreigners with eight entries and will be spearheaded by three-time champion Ronald Ssebuguzi and Duncan Mubiru both driving Mitsubishi Evolution 10 cars.

Other drivers are from Rwanda, Belgium, Italy and Tanzania.

Ssebuguzi and his partner Leon Ssenyange tested their car in Kajiado town on Tuesday to get a feeling of the terrain.

Kepher Walubi and Christakis Fitidis of Uganda also exuded confidence.

"We are done with final touches to the car and we now ready for the Safari Rally," said Fitidis.

England-based Hardev Sira is also bubbling with confidence driving a Ford Escort and will be among the top classic contenders in the Safari alongside former Kenyan champion Jonathan Somen and Raaji Bharij.


Kenya will host Safari Rally as World Championship candidate


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