Uhuru leads Kenyans in welcoming Safari Rally WRC return
Charles Thuku and James Magayi
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday said he was overly excited after the prestigious Safari Rally returned to the World Rally Championships (WRC) calendar.
Uhuru who led other rally enthusiasts in celebrating the feat gave plaudits to the president of the International Automobile Federation, Jean Todt, World Rally Championships promoter Oliver Ciesla, Kenya Motorsports Federation (KMSF) chairman Phineas Kimathi and other entities who made their contribution towards the development.
In a statement, Uhuru reckoned that the breakthrough was part of the Jubilee’ Party’s manifesto when he took over the country’s leadership in 2013, adding that it has been seven years since the country started making frantic efforts for Safari to be included in WRC family.
“Before my Administration assumed office in 2013, I made a promise to the people of Kenya, to return the Safari Rally back to the International Automobile Federation World Rally Championship family. This process has taken us seven years.
“It is my pleasure today to announce to the people of Kenya and Africa that this process has been concluded and the Safari Rally has been included in the International Automobile Federation World Rally Championship 2020 Calendar, marking the return of the World Rally Championship to Kenya and Africa, after 18 years of waiting,” read part of the statement.
As rally enthusiasts savoured the iconic moment, Federation of International Automobile Jean Todt thanked Uhuru for leading from the front to ensure that Kenyan rally drivers brush shoulder with the crème-de-la-crème of the world.
“Thank you for Uhuru. I wish Kenyan rally all the best and I assure you of good long term relations with FIA. It is particularly encouraging for WRC to be assured of road safety to reduce the number of crashes during events held under aegis of WRC,” said Todt.
In the meantime, Sports Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohamed described the latest development as a milestone to the country and which will be a bib boon for the country in matters economy.
“By Safari Rally being returned in the WRC series, we are talking of the government raking in a whooping Sh 9 billion. Safari Rally is part of Kenya’s heritage and stands to enjoy the privilege of a wide audience,” said Mohamed.
She added:” We are all elated at the prospects of our drivers showcasing their skills against the very best in the world.
To Kenya Motorsports Federation (KMSF) and volunteers, thank you for playing a part in spearheading the return campaign,” said Mohammed.
Kenya Safari Rally CEO Phineas Kimathi who also doubles as KMSF Chairman said the achievement was remarkable and especially given that most African countries have been unsuccessful to return to the world status and are merely participating in continental events.
“Safari rally is a big economic driver and is bound to boost the economy,” said Kimathi.