Kenya to push for Safari Rally inclusion in World Championship

Nairobi, Dec 15 (IANS) Kenya is hopeful that its premier motorsport event, the Safari Rally, will be reinstated in the World Rallying Championship by 2019.

Richard Ekai, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, said this when he hosted International Motorsport Federation (FIA) President Jean Todt in his office here on Wednesday, reports Xinhua.

Ekai also confirmed that Kenya will fully support the event and will bid to have the Safari Rally return to the 14-tier WRC.

Kenya will organise next year’s Safari Rally as an African championship event, which means it will have to look out at its safety procedures and meet the set international standards. Then it will move a notch higher and stage the 2018 event as a WRC Candidate Event which will be observed by the FIA and WRC promoters.

“We will give out funds to see that these events are a success to the standards set by FIA. The Government will provide $1 million to facilitate this in 2017,” Ekai said.

“Sound financial, material and logistical support will be discussed at an inter-ministerial level through laid down protocol,” Ekai added.

Todt, a former Safari Rally co-driver and later team principal of Peugeot World Rally Team, said that at a personal level he would like to see the Safari back in the WRC.

He said President Uhuru Kenyatta reassured him of his government’s support when he met him last year at State House in Nairobi.

He added that the WRC status are determined by the WRC Promoter who are the commercial rights holders of this global event with a cumulative global television reach of 755 million people in over 300 television stations in 150 countries.

“It is unacceptable to have over 17,000 road accidents, including 3,000 deaths, in Kenya annually. This must be looked at. Safety is a must. But we also cannot leave Africa out of the WRC,” Todt said.

South Africa has already promised to back Kenya’s WRC bid.

Kenya Motor Sport Federation chairman Phineas Kimathi said he handed over the government’s commitment letter to the FIA Governing Council meeting in Vienna in early December.