It was just an email, but it was a very, very special one. Toyota Gazoo Racing was the first of the factory teams to send in its entries for this year’s Safari Kenya Rally.
Opening that email was actually quite an emotional moment. For the last three years we’ve been building towards this moment. For the team, last year was a really tough one. We came close, only for the pandemic to shut the door on us. We knew, for sure, the door would open again, but after all the work it was so disappointing.
But when that email came from Finland, all of that disappointment was forgotten. At the same time, seeing the entries fill up really hammered home the realization that this is real. I wouldn’t say I’ve started having sleepless nights – we have a fantastic team that knows exactly what it’s doing – but there’s still some moments when I want to just double-check things.
And that’s what we’ve been doing recently. I’ve spent quite a lot of time going over the plans for the ceremonial start.
The start is a really iconic part of the rally – everybody remembers the famous pictures from the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in the middle of Nairobi, where the event started and finished from in previous years.
Maybe one of the most famous pictures is the one of Colin McRae after he finished the last event [in 2002] as the winner. I am always a little bit confused by this one though – Colin won three Safaris, not two!
But most of the time right now is spent in the Safari Rally Kenya official office in the city. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of paperwork involved with this event, which is why we were determined to make the office an inspirational place to work. Do you like our wallpaper?
As you will have read on DirtFish, the best news to come into the office is the news that our entry list is completely full. When you make a rally, of course you want the big names, you want all of your stars to come along and drive the roads that you have helped make.
And to know Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans and the others will be coming to these stages in their amazing cars is fantastic news – but what’s also so good for me and for the team is to know that all the privateers have come as well.
We have made this product and people have bought it and now we have sold out. And sold out to some of the sport’s coolest cars – did you see? Four Ford Fiesta Rally3 cars!
Now, back to work…