- WRC Promoter signs promotion agreement for Safari Rally return in a special event today in Paris
- Kenyan Government instrumental in revival of classic African event
PS Kaberia leads Kenyans delegation in French capital
- Candidate rally set to be observed by WRC Promoter and FIA in 2019
- WRC return scheduled for 2020
Paris, France, 22 June 2018 – The return of Kenya’s iconic Safari Rally to the FIA World Rally Championship moved a step nearer to reality in Paris on Thursday (21 June) afternoon after the Kenya government signed a promotional agreement to run the 2019 Safari Rally as fully fledged FIA WRC Candidate Event.
Sports and Heritage Principal Secretary Peter Kaberia signed the agreement WRC Promoter managing Director Oliver Ciesla with a signed a promotion agreement with view to the classic African fixture returning to the WRC calendar in 2020 in the presence of the Federation Internationale De I’ Automobile , FIA, President Jean Todt at Federation De French Automible Club offices headquarters and WRC Safari Rally Project Phineas Kimathi
Ciesla inked the contract with Ambassador Kirimi said this is the beginning a meaningful and very tasking commitment to see the heritage of the Safari Rally as a premier sporting event in the world rekindled.
“Our Government is very committed to the Safari Rally and we will do everything in our power to make sure this great event is brought back to the WRC,” said Ambassador Kaberia.
“This signing is a major milestone and a day we have looked forward to for a very long time. Arriving at this point is a great pleasure.
“There is still a lot of work to be done and we will collaborate closely with all parties ahead of next year’s candidate rally to show that Kenya is ready and capable to deliver what is expected.”
“This agreement reflects our determination to restore a legendary rally to the championship and reinstate Africa to the top table of world rallying after an absence of more than a decade,” said Ciesla.
The Safari, which last featured in the WRC in 2002, is due to take place as a candidate event in 2019, when the FIA and WRC Promoter will observe it. “It must be run world standards and we will stand by Kenya to ensure security , safety is addressed.
Subject to it achieving high-level standards in key areas such as safety and organisation, WRC Promoter intends to propose the Safari’s inclusion in the WRC for an initial three-year period from 2020 to 2022. The Promoter proposes venues of WRC which are presented to the FIA Motorsport Council every October. This means that Kenya,s feat will be decided in the 18 months and actualize President Uhuru Kenya pledge to Kenyans next October.
The candidate event is expected to be held in March or April and the date will be finalised once the dates for the 2019 calendar have been confirmed, allowing WRC team representatives to attend.
Ciesla was a guest at the 2018 event, which was based in Nairobi and formed a round of the African and Kenyan championships.
“It has long been a key part of the calendar development strategy to take the WRC back to Africa and fulfil the dreams of our fans to restore this mythical event,” he said.
“A truly global championship requires a presence in the world’s second largest continent and the Kenyan Government has made a huge commitment to restablish the Safari to its former glory.
“This is a modern-era Safari. Traditional open-road competitive sections have been replaced by smoother special stages in private estates and conservancies and a comprehensive safety plan is in place to support a rally organised to the current WRC format.
“That doesn’t mean the challenge is diminished. The gravel roads are demanding and we can also look forward to striking images of African wildlife and stunning landscapes.”
Kimathi is an experienced Safari competitor and welcomed Mr Todt to Nairobi for the opening of the project’s headquarters earlier this year.
The Government has pledged a substantial budget towards the Safari and president Uhuru Kenyatta has emphasised his support as part of Kenya’s strategy to promote tourism, culture and heritage.
Kimathi said the signing agreement is a culmination of hard work and cooperation from the government. He thanks the President for standing firm behind the event.
Todt said it was the FIa desire to return to Africa and reiteriated that he has been impressed by the Kenya,s efforts.
The Safari was first held in 1953 as a celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and covered Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika (now Tanzania). Arduous conditions and long competitive sections earned it the status as the WRC’s toughest fixture and one of the world’s most famous motorsport events.