NAIROBI, Kenya, February 25- After serving up a football fest last weekend, the County of the moment, Machakos, will come alive once again when noisy high octane cars invade for the KCB Bank of the Year Rally.
Machakos will welcome the sport last experienced in its environs back in 2006 when veteran Guru Ian Duncan navigated by Amaar Slatch won in a Toyota Hilux.
Speaking at the pre-event briefing Tuesday, the chairman of the Safety and Medical Commission at Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC), Julius Ngigi, urged spectators for the second round of the event to adhere to stringent measures in place to avoid a recurrence of the chaotic Malindi Rally last month.
“We had a meeting last Monday and we deliberated on the events of Malindi. We are working together with KMSC to ensure we don’t have those challenges repeated in this rally. Norris Onga’lo has been nominated as the safety officer and he has been on the ground to establish safety point and spectator areas,” he added.
“KMSC has particularly worked hard and they have gone to sensitize the public and the local community on safety rules.
“Unfortunately it’s not the local community that is the problem, they are quiet obedient and observant. The notorious safety issues come from spectators who travel from Nairobi and elsewhere,” Ngigi disclosed the identity of mischief makers.
“Most have no interest in rallying. They just want to go, have fun and end up driving against rally traffic. Many of them think they know too much about rallying. I would be to encourage them to join the sport and don’t go endangering other people lives,” the KNRC official offered in a broadside to the trouble merchants.
In a bid to curtail traffic on rally routes, organisers will not allow spectators to drive into the rally sections with a ‘park and walk’ system in place where vehicles will be left at designated spots with their occupants walking to the stages.
Some 40 drivers have so far confirmed participation including the return of veteran rally driver Azar Anwar who had taken a break at the start of the season together with long time navigator, Ngigi.
The three-time KNRC champion will be entering his trusted ex-Alastair Cavenagh EVO8 with the 59 year-old Anwar last rallying at last year’s KCB Guru Nanak rally navigated by Absalom Awani.
Clerk-of-Course, Jimmy Kahumbura announced a power drive section has been included in the rally.
“This is a 9km sprint running between Wote to the flying finish at Konza where the designated spectator stage will be located,” he added on the event that will cover a total distance of 423km with competitive sections running 173km.
The drivers will cover various sections within the Machakos County including Ulu, Konza Plain and Wote.
“We recently won the Bank of the Year Africa and the Bank of the Year, Kenya and it was only in order to name this rally in Machakos the KCB Bank of the Year Machakos Rally.
“There is a lot of excitement after not being there for the last 8 years. They have been doing many great things and they are what we want all counties to be doing,” Anne Mwirigi, Marketing and Communications director at KCB outlined.
“So, if KCB is to excel in something then we want to attach ourselves to a County that is excelling and Machakos has done a brilliant job of standing out amongst all the counties for really making an effort to develop itself,” she added.
March 1 (6:00am to 5:00pm) – Scruteneering at Kenya Motor Sports Club in South C. Cars will then be driven to the adjacent Boma Hotel for the overnight Perc Ferme.
March 2– Cars depart Boma Hotel in a convoy straight to Machakos where they will be flagged off by Machakos County Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua outside KCB Machakos branch from 7.00am onwards.
The Service Park will be situated at Tumaini Secondary School along Ulu Road and will be visited four times on the race-day.
The ceremonial finish is at the Boma Hotel for the traditional over the ramp finish to be followed by the prize-giving ceremony at the same venue from 7.30 pm onwards.