Having starred on its return to the World Rally Championship, Safari Rally Kenya clerk of the course Gurvir Babra is hoping to make the event even more traditional with a shift to an Easter date.
FIA rallies director Yves Matton has told DirtFish it could be complicated to bring the event forwards for next season, but admits he can see the benefit of such a move.
“One of the talking points of this year’s rally was the fesh-fesh,” Babra told DirtFish. “When you lose your rally leader [Kalle Rovanperä] because of this stuff, it’s understandable that people are talking about it. Some were in favor and some were not.
“The best solution we can think for this is to move the rally to Easter. Running earlier in the year would put the event in the rainy season – which was always where it used to be. When the rain comes, we don’t have the problem with the fesh-fesh, but it does make it interesting with the mud.
“There are other benefits to a possible change of date, including a better rate on hotels – the hotels are all very, very busy at this time of the year in Naivasha. Easter would make more sense from that side and, of course, it was the tradition.”
Talking to Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s minister for sport, culture and heritage, her memories are from an Easter event.
“I remember it,” she told DirtFish. “Every Easter, all of the villages would turn out to watch the rally go past. It was a tradition and a big part of the year for us.”
Babra said he would be working on the traffic management plan for next year too.
“It’s fair to say the number of people coming to watch the rally was a big surprise,” he said. “In fact, it was completely amazing. All of the road sections, there were just people everywhere.
“It was nice to see, but also it did make for some traffic issues. Now we know the number of people who will be coming, we can be ready and prepare with the authorities for this.
“But, you know, I am very, very proud of what we achieved. There were some moments when we had to step up as an organization and we did that.
“Don’t forget, most of these guys, the stage commanders, safety car drivers and those guys, they have never seen a round of the World Rally Championship or a World Rally Car, in their lives. They did a fantastic job.
“If anything now, everybody is suffering from post-rally depression! We have lived this for so long, for so many months. To not have the start of Kedong or the liaison section after Sleeping Warrior to think about is strange. But we can already start to look forwards to next season.”