While Kenyan motorsports enthusiasts are still hopeful of seeing the the country’s famed Safari Rally return to the world circuit this year, despite the impact of the Covid-19 crisis but FIA President Jean Todt has said that despite the optimism, “people must come first”. Speaking in an address posted on the FIA website, Jean stopped short of actually cancelling or postponing the event.

In September 2019, Kenya’s large motorsports fanbase – which includes Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta – was thrilled with the announcement that Africa’s most famous rally would be welcomed back into international racing. The rally was part of the World Rally Championships, or WRC, from 1973 to 2002 and its history goes back to 1953 when it was known as the East African Coronation Safari, in honour of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Elizabeth was on holiday in Kenya when she learned she had become queen.

Thousands of spectators usually turn out to line the route, which rus through some of the most iconic countryside in the world, while massive crowds attend the flag-off at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi. Taking place during the Easter holidays, many in the crowd are schoolchildren.

Referred to as the world’s toughest rally, the rally has had a special place in the hearts of race drivers around the world for decades. After losing its WRC standing, the race was continued as a classic car and African Rally Championships event under the stewardship of the FIA or Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (also known as the International Automobile Federation). No international rally has been held in Afria since 2002.  FIA president and former race driver Jean Todt, who was in Kenya on a mission to improve road safety, explained the importance of the rally, for Africa.

“The modern World Rally Championship needs to extend its horizons and become more global and I would like to see us return to Kenya for a tough and demanding event. As the world’s second largest continent, Africa is very important to the FIA and the Safari Rally represents everything that is in the DNA of our sport,” Todt said.

However, a Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent announcement of restrictions on movement in Kenya raised the spectre of the event being postponed or even cancelled. Todt said the timeframe to announce any change in status was only matter of weeks.

Thanks / sources: Staff reporter, KCB Bank and the FIA

READ MORE HERE/ https://safarirally.co.ke/about-safari/