Motorsport enthusiasts world over will this weekend descend on Kenya to enjoy the spectacle that is the Safari Rally.
The most prestigious and celebrated motorsport event on the continent, the Safari Rally will run from July 5 -7 in the Nairobi, Naivasha and Nakuru areas as a World Rally Championship (WRC) candidate event.
The Safari ran as part of the WRC until 2002 when it was scrapped off the calendar due to financial problems and poor organization. It has been part of the African Rally Championship (ARC) since 2003.
However, the Kenyan government is working to see that the rally is restored to its WRC status. And there is huge hope in that regard with all signs showing that it could make a return to the WRC in 2020.
Of the 51 crews, Uganda has the highest number of foreign entries at eight crews. Other crews are from Kenya, Tazania, Zambia, Belgium, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Three-time national champion Ronald Sebuguzi and Leon Ssenyange will be tackling their first Safari rally together although the driver has previously competed in the event, finishing 14th overall in 2009 and then failing to finish in the other in 2012.
Mubiru ‘Kikankane’ Duncan and Musa Nsubuga finished seventh overall last year, their joint best finish at the event and will be hoping for better this year as they return with a more powerful the Mitsubishi Evo X.
2017 national champion Chrikistakis Fitidis, Yassin Nasser and Ali Katumba, Kepher Walubi and Anthony Mugambwa, Abdul Kateete and female navigator Rahma Muhamad will also compete in the main class.
The crews of Geoffrey Nsereko and JB Musisi plus Lymo Emmanuel and Ali Mustafa will be competing in the two-wheel drive category.
The field of drivers will be led by defending African Rally Champion Mavir Baryan and English navigator Derw Sturrock in their Skoda Fabia R5. They have never won the Safari but they will be hoping to end their wait this year.
2017 Safari Rally winner and defending Kenya national champion Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo knows how to win the Safari as he has won the event an unprecedented five times in his career. He will be odds on favorite to win again this year.
Legendary Ian Duncan, who was the last Kenyan to win the event in 1994 when it was part of the WRC, has also confirmed to take part in the event. Two time safari winner Baldev Chagger will also be another one to look out for.
The Crews of Leroy Gomes and Urshilla Gomes and Jassy Singh navigated by Sahid Khan will lead Zambia’s charge.
The Safari will be 881 kilometres long divided into eight stages for three days. The Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani will play host to the first competitive stage to showcase the excitement that comes with an event of this magnitude.
The Crews will then head out to the areas of Nakuru for day two and Naivasha on day three.