NAIROBI, Kenya, October 19 – Rally legend Bjorn Waldegard has pulled out of next month’s Kenya Airways East African Classic Safari Rally.Rally manager Ashok Bhalla said on Monday that Waldegard was one of six withdrawals from the rally slashing the initial number of participants from 52 to 45.
“The recession has hit some of the drivers hard forcing them to miss the rally,” said Bhalla.
Fourteen Kenyan drivers are set to take part in motorsport’s toughest event to be held between November 22 and December 1.
Rally ace Ian Duncan starts in second place with a Ford Mustang while former star Aslam Khan starts his campaign in 12th position in a Ford Escort.
The unique event which was revived to relive the ‘glory’ days of rallying will run a course of 4390 km through Kenya and Tanzania.
“The rally will be flagged off under the Mombasa tusks from where the drivers will head for a 19km spectator stage at Vipingo Ridge,” said Bhalla.
“On 23rd, the rally starts proper and will head to Taita Hills for three competitive sections and an overnight stay. We will then cross into Tanzania where toughest stages of the rally are located,” he added.
The rally will enter Tanzania through Taveta in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro through Arusha circle Lake Manyara and then re-enter Kenya through Namanga.
When back in Kenya it will go through Kajiado, Lake Naivasha, Nairobi , Emali, Voi and conclude in Mombasa.
Kenya Airways is sponsoring the event to the tune of Sh11.3 million shillings which the airline’s head of marketing and corporate communications Dick Omondi was in line with their strategy of becoming the region’s leading career.
“This rally is famous not just for the drivers that take part in it but also for the scenery that passes through it,” said Omondi.