NAIROBI, Kenya, February 10 – Thirty three drivers have so far entered the 2009 East African Classic Safari Rally which will be held on November 22 to December 1.Event director and course clerk Surrinder Thatthi said on Tuesday that the current number of entries is higher than the figures they had at the same stage before the last competition which is an encouraging sign in the midst of the global credit crunch.
“Last year this time we had 26, so it looks much better than before. We were expecting a downturn with the economic crisis but it seems the Safari rally is so popular and nobody wants to miss it,” said Thatthi.
Defending champion and rally legend Bjorn Waldegaard will return to tackle the 4300 kilometre rally in a Porsche 911 as he seeks to retain the title he won two years ago.
“Its great to have the old rally legends coming back like Waldegaard and Ian Duncan and last year’s podium winners so we are very pleased,” said Thatthi.
Thatthi was speaking upon receiving a Sh1.5 million sponsorship package from internet service provider Access Kenya.
“Access Kenya is happy to be associated with this prestigious event and in facilitating communication of the events as they unfold to the rest of the world right from a media centre in the bush,” said Access Kenya managing director Kris Senanu.
“Additionally, we shall be extending our relationship with East African Safari Classic rally for another year in order to push the sport to new heights,” he added.
This year’s rally which has a total competitive distance of 1900km will be flagged off from Mombasa and then pass through Tanzania before entering Kenya through Nambala.
The rally will take in famous sites like the Ruwenzori mountains, Taita Hills, Amboseli game reserve and Kerio valley.
The classic rally which was initiated to honour the commemoration of Queen Elizabeth II is regarded as one of the world’s most toughest motorsport events.