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Bumper entry for Safari rally

NAIROBI, June 24 – More than 65 rally drivers have confirmed participation for this year’s KCB Safari Rally set for this weekend.

The entries include more than 10 foreign drivers some of whom are already in the country preparing for the legendary event which is in its 56th year.

Zambia’s Muna Singh is the top seed and will lead the rest of the pack that includes nine competitors in the Formula Two category.

Other top names that have confirmed participation include are current national champion Carl “Flash” Tundo, Riyaz Kurji from Uganda and Lee Rose who are regular contenders in the rally.

Addressing a media briefing Tuesday at the Jacaranda Hotel today Clerk of Course Ashok Bhalla noted with delight the bumper entries this year.

“I think we have fantastic entries for safari rally with such a large number. We have 39 cars in the main event in the main event. In the supplementary class we have 16 entries and in Formula Two we have 9 entries,” he said.

South Africa’s John Williams who will be driving an S2000 Volkswagen is eagerly awaiting the start of the rally.

Williams will be aiming to garner points in the newly introduced Pirelli junior championship that will see the winner take part in the World Rally Championship.

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“It’s a legendary event so for us and after the first stage we will know what the conditions are like and slowly pick up the pace from there. We have strengthened small things but we not used to rough roads, so we have had to learn separately as a driver and the same for my navigator. We learnt a lot from Uganda and hopefully we can use that here in Kenya,” he said.

Speaking at the same briefing KCB’s Judith Odhiambo said, “As a flagship of motoring heritage, KCB is proud to contribute towards taking the sport to the next level both in Kenya and within East Africa.”

The rally will start off with a special spectator stage at Uhuru Park this Friday with the action proper set for Elementaita and Athi River on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

After ceremonial 3pm flag off at Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), the cars will head straight to a holding point at Railway Club, before taking to their stage runs. There will be a 20-minute service at Railway Club and to KICC Parc Ferme.

The Safari covers 668km with a competitive mileage of 2964km. Leg onewill take the cars through a gruelling 124km distance through the expansive Delamare estates, where an 88.77km three-stage loop will be repeated to make up a cumulative 178.38km.

The three stages are Soysambu-Elementeita (47.76km), Start Gallop-Lake West End (36.80km) and Start Lake East End-Elementeita Lodge (4.16km) with a scenic designated spectator point near the famous Lodge monument.

Known as the world’s toughest rally, it counts as the third round of the FIA African Rally Championship, the newly established FIA/Pirelli Young Drivers Promotion, KCB Kenya National Rally Championship and KCB East African Rally Challenge.

It was initially scheduled for March but was postponed to June and dropped from the second tier World Series in the wake of the post election skirmishes.

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