The World Rally Championship might have rounds three, four and five – Croatia, Portugal and Italy – to think about first, but the Safari Rally has been uppermost on the teams’ minds this week as they prepare to pack up and ship out their freight to Africa.
It’s been 19 years since the WRC was last in Kenya – the series’ long-haul equipment came close last year, but was eventually shipped back to Europe from Rally México once the Safari was lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting on Monday, recce cars and parts will be sailing from Southampton towards the service park in Naivasha for the June 24-27 event.
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team is the first to send its freight, with Toyota following and Hyundai Motorsport setting sail the day after the recce starts for Croatia (April 20).
M-Sport’s Richard Millener told DirtFish: “We saw what happened with the Suez Canal recently when it was blocked, we’ve been advised that it makes sense to get the freight out there as early as possible and that’s what we’re doing.
“As you’ll have seen, the world’s still a bit of a strange place when it comes to travelling right now, so we’re happy to get the stuff on the road and on the ship. It’s pretty exciting to be packing the long-haul kit again, it’s been a while since Mexico last year.”
Millener said M-Sport was keeping a close eye on developments between the United Kingdom and Kenyan governments.
Currently Kenya remains on Britain’s ‘red list’ which dictates a 10-day hotel quarantine for anybody travelling home from that country.
“We’re watching and waiting,” said Millener. “That’s all we can do. Potentially the quarantine would make it difficult [for us], but we’re still a good couple of months away from the event.”
A 10-day quarantine for Brits would end for just a week out from the start of Rally Estonia.