The final countdown to the Safari Rally’s return

With less than two weeks to go Clerk of the Course Gurvir Bhabra outlines the last minute preparations


There have been a few occasions in the last couple of months when the reality of what’s coming has really hit home. The biggest by far was when I was watching the DirtFish Rally Italy wrap video with some of the team. At the end of the show, Colin Clark said: “See you next time, at Safari Rally Kenya…”

That was a properly sobering moment. We’re next! We’ve been waiting 19 years for this moment – we came close last year, but now… we’re next!

As I write this, I’m waiting to go out to look at the last few stages for one final time with Iain Campbell and Joao Passos. Those guys have been absolutely superb, so full of energy and ideas and WRC know-how.

On this last recce, we’re just double-checking that all the changes we asked for the route have been made. We had to cut back a lot of the bushes in some sections and then we wanted some anti-cutting devices putting in some corners – it’s those sort of things we’re looking for.


The downside to the aerodynamics on these current World Rally Cars is that the front spoiler can act as something of a snowplough, cutting grass and shovelling it into the air intakes and radiators. I know this is the Safari, but the last thing we want is to lose a load of cars because they’re overheating. The problem we have here is that the grass and the bushes grow so quickly – especially when we have a little bit of rain.

Talking of the weather, we’re expecting some showers this week. That would be really handy to help bind some of the sections together which have become quite loose.

The team is quite divided on what we want from the weather, I suspect it’s going to be quite hot, sunny and Africa in June, which will be fantastic for the pictures with the huge dust trails. But at the same time, there are some people who want a lot, a lot, a lot of rain to try to recreate some of the amazing imagery we’ve seen in the past.

Let’s see. Currently, the long range forecast is dry, but anything can happen!

Before the recce, I had spent a lot of time in conference calls with the stage commanders, making sure they’re all happy with the set-up diagrams and the work they have to do in the coming week. The equipment is starting to be distributed from Naivasha for the stages – it’s fair to say I’m going to be even more familiar with the road between the office in Nairobi and the service park in Naivasha in the next week or so.

The last job before writing this diary was a safety car meeting. We know that, at the end of next week, the eyes of the rallying world will be on us and we have to have everything absolutely ready.

I’ll try to catch up later this week, once the containers start to be unloaded in Mombasa, but once we get into next week and the recce starts, I might be a bit busy for the next instalment!