Inside the “useful” Safari dress rehearsal

Event spokesman says last week's Equator Rally "felt like" a WRC round

Screenshot 2021-04-29 at 14.14.04

Anybody doubting Kenya’s commitment to the Safari Rally wasn’t in Naivasha for last weekend’s Equator Rally. President Kenyatta was. And so were three more high-ranking government officials.

The president spent an hour watching a stage and talking to officials, while his sports, culture and heritage cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed was there for even longer.

Mohamed’s love of the sport and the Safari Rally in particular is well documented here on DirtFish – but the minister herself was full of praise for what she saw at last week’s dress rehearsal ahead of the Safari’s full return in June.

“It was an honor to host the Equator Rally,” Mohamed said. “We tested our teams’ systems, coordination and overall capacity to host Safari Rally and we can authoritatively say that we are ready.

“During the three action packed days, there were no major incidents reported and the competitors completed the event safely and are all looking forward to June.

From the candidate event we can see real, real progress – last weekend felt like we were on and in a world championship round Gurvir Bhabra, event spokesman

“Our able and competent team involved Kenyans in broadcasting the event in real time on Safari Rally TV and with other media partners and through social media platforms. For two of these days and I was [in] a front row seat at an amazing rally, reflective of the sacrifice, investment and passion that went into its preparation.

“Now we look forward to welcoming the World Rally Championship.”

In eight weeks, the WRC will land back into Kenya for the first time since 2002.

The Equator Rally included seven of the 11 stages planned for the Safari Rally in June. Overnight rain on Friday made the first loop of stages slippery, but conditions dried as the day progressed.

Burns, Safari

Photo: McKlein Image Database

Event spokesman Gurvir Bhabra told DirtFish: “Really, it’s like the minister said, everything went to plan for us.

“From the candidate event [in 2019], we can see real, real progress – last weekend felt like we were on and in a world championship round. That’s something we are very proud of. A lot of people have worked very hard to get to this position.

“For the conditions, the rain was very useful – we can have this also in June, so it’s useful to see how the roads evolved with this weather.”

Local rally star Carl Tundo was fastest on all but two of the 11 stages to win the event in a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.

Photos:Safari Rally, McKlein Image Database

Words:David Evans