The KCB Safari Rally is rated ‘The World’s Toughest Rally’. But no race has echoed this statement more strongly than the 2011 series that resulted in star-studded drivers bowing out of the race long before its end was even near.

For 2-time Kenya Champion, Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo, the 59th edition of the Safari Rally was not unconquerable as he stared at the possibility of a rare KCB Safari Rally hat-trick when he outran the entire field on Leg 1B around Isinya and Kajiado. The Lanet-based wheat farmer-led all the 5 stages at stake to clinch victory.

Meanwhile, the quiet but treacherous Il-Bissel area on the Nairobi-Namanga road had a few tricks up its sleeve as some of the most seasoned drivers bowed out of the race too early here. The streak of drama began with Kenyan champion, Alastair Cavenagh who has not been very lucky as he stared into a 3rd frustrating retirement this season with a broken input shaft.

Three-time Kenya Champion Azar Anwar wasn’t spared either in the long day of defeats. The 57-year-old driver, who won the Eldoret Rally last April, was forced to retire after the engine of his EVO 8 car knocked on arrival at the second service in Il-Bissel.

Peter Horsey, who was making a comeback to the safari after 5 months of absence due to an injury he suffered while skating, was not spared either. Driving an EVO 9, he hit a bank and retired with a broken driveshaft which also brought down Baldev Singh Chager, the 2008 Kenya Champion, irrespective of his brand new Subaru N 16 car

Other casualties of the 2011 rally were the reigning 2WD Champion Leonardo Varese, Phineas Kimathi, Charles Hinga and Norris Ongalo, Stefano Roca and Franco. Donadel, Issa Amwari (Subaru), Gurmit Thethy (VW Golf GTi), “Warembo Bila Make Up” crew of Stella Macharia and Hellen Shiri, debutantes Julius Kihunyuro (Nissan Pulsar) and Pauline Sheg-Mwanzia (Subaru) retired as well. Haraka Mamas of Joan Nesbitt and Dr Tamara Jones also rolled out on CS3. Both were okay.

The rally was part of the World Rally Championship calendar for many years until it was excluded in 2003 due to lack of funding and organisation. The Kenyan government is trying to get the rally’s World Rally Championships (WRC) status restored.

Since 2003 the event has been part of the African Rally Championship organised by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). It is currently known as the KCB Safari Rally after its sponsor, the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB). Make sure to add this to your bucket list whenever you are in town and the rally season has begun. Check KCB’s website for the latest rally calendar.