This year’s Safari Rally Kenya has been called off, with Africa’s return to the World Rally Championship now deferred until next season.
The announcement, made because of the continued coronavirus pandemic, followed significant and high-level discussions between the Kenyan government, the FIA and WRC Promoter.
Travel restrictions into the African continent remain and the teams involved in the WRC had been increasingly vocal their concerns with competing on the July 16-19 event.
“We are grateful to the [Safari Rally] Patron, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta, for his unwavering support and counsel as we deliberated on the next best steps,” said Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for sport, culture and heritage.
“We also owe exceptional gratitude to the President of the FIA, Mr. Jean Todt and the WRC Promoter led by Oliver Ciesla for their unyielding support since we commenced engagements to return the Safari Rally to the WRC circuit.”
The Safari was scheduled to return for the first time in 18 years this summer. While that return has been spiked, work on the event continues for the 2021 running.
“We will continue to prepare for the event as groundworks are already in top gear and look forward to welcoming rally professionals, teams and enthusiasts to Kenya when the event is re-convened next year,” Mohamed added.
“Postponing the event to 2021 was not a simple decision to make, however, we are cognisant of the present global challenges and assure that the Safari Rally will mark a significant part of our country’s history as was intended for the next three years.”
Safari Rally CEO Phineas Kimathi said the event was precisely on time for its July date, but the infrastructure in place will now carry forward to next season.
“The organizing teams continue to work hard to make sure that we deliver a world-class event,” said Kimathi.
“We are at an advanced stage to complete the service park located in Nakuru County and are in line with the set completion timelines.
“We have also completed the Event Safety Plan, Itinerary and Supplementary Regulations all delivered within the given FIA and WRC timelines and will move forward to complete all the requisite arrangements.
“We encourage the drivers and all stakeholders to keep in touch with the secretariat as we ready ourselves for the new dates.
Safari Rally Kenya is the fourth WRC round to be affected by coronavirus. Rally Argentina remains postponed, as does Rally Italy. This year’s Rally Portugal has been canceled.
The next scheduled WRC encounter is now Rally Finland in August.