As the KCB Safari Rally celebrates its 60th anniversary since the regional rally championships began, it seems, this year’s event with about 80 drivers including a record 5 all-ladies teams, will be ending in style complete with a more international outlook.
This year’s 720 KM event slated for June 8th to 10th will also mark the 4th round of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) African Rally Championship and will feature more than 10 foreigners including from Zambia, Rwanda and Uganda.
Under the FIA Championship regulations (FIA is the governing body for world motor sport and the federation of the world’s leading motoring organisations) rallies are allowed longer “competitive sections”. There will be 3 classes in this year’s event with the main N Class carrying the bulk of the entrants at 37 followed by the 2WD Class with 19 and the Supplementary Class with 24 cars.
As the Safari Rally kicks-off at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre on Friday, all eyes will be on the all-ladies team of Joan Nesbitt and Tamara Johns (Haraka Mamas), the KTN Rally Team of Anne Ngugi and Joy Doreen Biria, Stella Macharia and Helen Shiri who will be coming in their now popular brand name, Warembo Bila Make Up and the Ladies Luck team of Michelle Van Tongaren (multiple winner of the Coupe Des Dames diadem) and SafinaSayed Khan as they fight it out with their male counterparts in a competition that has been heralded as the biggest in the history of the rally.
The 1st Leg will run towards the town of Kajiado in the Rift Valley. Originally known as ‘Olopurupurana’, which means ‘a round elevation’; Kajiado is home to the Maasai people. The present name of the town is derived from a Maa name, ‘Ol Kejuado’, which means ‘the long river’, after a seasonal river which runs west of the town. The service park on the first day will be at Il Bissel, about 40 KM south of Kajiado town.
The 2nd Leg will run around Isinya, about 15 KM north of Kajiado. Isinya is well-known for its private airfield called Orly Airpark, often mistaken for the Orly Airport in Paris. The name Orly is actually short for ‘Olooloitikosh’, the name of the area where the airfield is based. The service park for this Leg will be at the Isinya Multi-Purpose Development Training Institute.
The recent heavy rains have been casting a shadowy figure of uncertainty on the possibility of this Safari Rally actually taking-off but organisers are upbeat that the world’s toughest rally will still see the light of day come June 8. All you need to do is be there to cheer your team as you experience yet another touch of Kenya.