NAIROBI, Kenya, March 17 – Organisers of 63rd KCB Safari Rally have withdrawn the annual showpiece from Africa Rally Championships calendar to focus on efforts of gaining re-admittance to the 2017 World Rally Championships roster.
Changes have been made to the event moved from June to April to coincide with its tradition Easter holidays slot for the first time since 1996 when it was part of the WRC with organisers unveiling a 9000km event that will be an ultimate test between man and machine in echoes of Safari of old that gained international fame and notoriety as a bone breaker.
Two new sections has been added to the three-day rally that will traverse Nairobi, Machakos, Laikipia and Meru counties after its flagged off at Kenyatta International Conference Center on April 3.
Clerk of Course, Bimal Patel, said Tuesday during the launch added stages makes the rally more of an endurance event as opposed to a sprint competition during with drivers racing in private and public roads.
“This Safari is going to be different; it’s going to be a combination of all Safari type roads and current day rally sections. The route is dry but if it rains, then Meru is going to be fun because that’s where winners of the old edition were decided.
“Driving skill technique and energy must be taken on consideration by the drivers for them to succeed,” he added.
Standard Required Timing Machine that is used in WRC will be introduced for the first time in the second round of 2015 Kenya National Rally Championships.
“If we get WRC status in three years, it means we will not need to procure the timing system. The satellite based equipment will help us get exact timings since cars will be running in transponders and when they reach the finish line; it will transmit precise time drivers have taken in the stages.
“We are working around the clock to see we get the facility in time, should that not happen we have an alternative option,” Kenya Motorsport Federation director, Phineas Kimathi declared.
Drivers will head to Machakos, Athi River then back to KICC on the opening day before attacking roads in Naromoru on to a new stage in Loldaiga Private Ranch, Ngare Ndare forest before turning at a new route from Isiolo- Meru tarmac road to complete the second.
The last day will rev off at Meru ASK Show Ground then head to Meru forest, Kisima before turning back to Loldaiga, Lewa and finish at the start point.
“The car has gone for complete rebuild to see if we will be ready in time to try and win our first Safari. The opening round in Kisumu was not good for us since we retired at the fourth stage,” two-wheel drive KNRC champion, Leonardo Varese told Capital Sport.
Quentin Mitchell, who has finished the podium in Safari twice in 2012 and 13, is raring to challenge two-time champion Baldev Chager and experienced Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo.
“A lot of changes will be done in my car to see we are ready in time. We will enter the race with an interesting mind set since we are using S2000 car because it’s a high raving car that might not necessary travel for long but we will use our brain to give top drivers a run for their money.”
Scruteneering will be held March 31 while recce will be on 28 and 29.