It’s like Joe Biden confirming an American round of the World Rally Championship. Or Boris Johnson putting his shoulder to the wheel to bring Rally GB back to Britain. Unfortunately, neither the White House nor Number 10 shares President Uhuru Kenyatta’s passion for rallying.
The Kenyan premier paused from his duties handing out the trophies at Safari Rally Kenya to deliver the news which a continent – not mention a world – of fans wanted to hear. Africa’s not only back in the World Rally Championship, but it’s not going anywhere for the next five years.
“It gives me great pleasure,” said Kenyatta, “to announce that we have agreed, with the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and the World Rally Championship (WRC), to continue hosting the Safari Rally in Kenya, every year until 2026.
“In this regard, my administration will immediately start preparations for the next Safari Rally event, and I commit the required financial investment towards another successful championship in Kenya.”
FIA rally director Yves Matton said the news of a long-term, government-level commitment was great news for the event and the championship.
“It’s great to see this [commitment] from the president and his government,” Matton told DirtFish. “I believe this rally has been and will add great value for the championship. It was really positive what we saw and what happened during the weekend.”
The Belgian was a big fan of the diversity in both backdrop and challenge the Naivasha-based event delivered and will deliver into the future.
“The imagery was incredible,” he said. “It’s really something different. You know what I think about rallying and the DNA of rallying: this sport is about the drivers who can drive in every condition and, for sure, the conditions we had this weekend are really different from all the rounds we have in the championship.”
COVID-19 restrictions forced M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson to watch the event unfold from his Dovenby Hall headquarters. That won’t be the case next year.
He told DirtFish: “You just need to look and see by all the images and the drama and everything that’s unfolded on the event, it’s been incredible. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re in the unfortunate situation where something goes wrong then it’s very, very difficult, but I think the rally just brings something else to the championship.
“I have to tell you I will definitely be there next year.”