NAIROBI, March 15 – Kenya Motor Sports Federation (KMSF) has announced the postponement of the 64th edition of the KCB Safari Rally initially programmed for the Easter weekend citing logistical challenges.
A statement from the Federation said the club which had won the bid to organise the event from March 25-27 requested KMSF to change the dates after failing to meet the set deadline.
The rally which is one of the longest running sporting events in Kenya alongside Tannahill Easter Shield in golf and Enterprise Cup in rugby reverted to its traditional Easter weekend last year in a bid to recreate and revamp its appeal amongst sports lovers.
The event was to be organised by the Kenya Motor Sports Club (KMSC) which is one of the 12 affiliate clubs of KMSF.
The Jim Kahumbura-led KMSC, which organised the opening round of the 2016 Kenya National Rally Championship in Kajiado County on February 27, won the bid to organize the 2016 Safari Rally after successfully out-bidding one other affiliate in a new tendering process Introduced to enhance transparency and accountability.
The KMSF secretariat said it intends to run this year’s Safari a lot more professionally and in closed private ranch roads as part of their long-term safety plan designed to deviate from the hustle and bustle of public road racing.
Over and above safety of crews and spectators, KMSF is on the verge of bringing in a state of the art TAG Heuer timing system that’s used in World Rally Championship (WRC).
This is part of the technical support Liquid Telecom is extending to the sport as Kenya plots to woo WRC top brass to reconsider Kenya as a racing destination.
The rally was previously a round of the WRC from 1973 up till 2002 but was dropped from the International Motorsport Federation (FIA) calendar when Kenyan organisers failed to meet the set technical requirements the World Governing body had demanded action on including safety and payment of calendar fees.
The event was relegated to FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) status from 2003 to 2014.
Last year, the Safari was held as a non-FIA ARC event and won by Kisumu based Jassi Chatthe who went on to chalk up the coveted ARC title with Englishman Craig Thorley.
“Flying Finn” Tapio Laukkanen currently leads the 2016 KNRC with 25 points followed by Ian Duncan on 21.
Apart from the Safari the eight leg KNRC will traverse Mombasa, Nanyuki, Kisumu and Nakuru.