Billed as the toughest rally in the world, this year’s Safari is also part of the Africa Rally Championship (ARC) with high profile foreign drivers expected in for the event.
From its ceremonial start at Kenyatta International Conference Centre on Friday that will be immediately followed by a spectator stage at Uhuru Park, the competitors will traverse tough stages in Il-Bissel and Kajiado on Saturday and Sunday.
Mombasa based Corner Garage sponsored Paras Pandya and his co-driver Falgun Bhojak exuded confidence after completing their recce over the weekend.
“It’s twisty, rough, long and with wash ways too. We intend to drive cautiously and clean. And we want to see how we can maintain the energy levels high enough to keep concentration,” said Paras.
Sudesh Hirani “Hakuuz” of Mombasa will compete in a Subaru N10 was also in high spirits after testing the course.
Formula Two driver Gurmit Thethy was full of belief noting that, “It was good but tiring though, stages are fast, tough, tricky and fun with some rough here and there. The 87km stage is deadly though it needs a lot of concentration because of the distance.
“After a while you start thinking when it’s going to finish and stuff like that. Navigator gets tired of reading notes for so long and the driver takes a toll also so it’s very easy to make a mistake on this long stage.”
A bumper entry of over 80 drivers including a record five all-ladies’ crew are scheduled to start with Zambian speedster Mohammed Essa and Ugandan Jas Mangat spearheading the foreign legion.
Kenyan Division Two leader Manvir Singh Baryan has enlisted services of French navigator Denis Giraudet. The Main N Class has 37 entrants, the 2WD 19 and supplementary class 24 cars.
Haraka Mamas’ Joan Nesbitt and Tamara Johns, KTN Rally Team of Anne Ngugi and Joy Doreen Biria, Warembo Bila Make Up which has Stella Macharia and Helen Shiri and Ladies Luck- Michelle Van Tongaren and Safina Sayed Khan -will all be trying to break the monopoly of their male counterparts when the rally revs off.
Tongaren, multiple winner of the Coupe Des Dames crown, is back in the groove after an eight-year absence.