The announcement of a new date for the Safari Rally is good news for local fans. Part of the World Rally Championship (WRC) series, it was scheduled for July 16-19 but was postponed due to Covid-19.
On Saturday, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) announced that it will now be held from June 24-27 next year. While releasing the new dates for the 2021 season, FIA said the Safari Rally will run as the sixth round of the 2021 global series in a closed circuit.
That will effectively mark the rally’s return to the WRC series after almost a decade. It was struck off the WRC calendar in 2002 following financial challenges and increasing demands from the championship organisers.
With the new dates out, the government and Kenya Motor Sports Federation (KMSF) should utilise the next eight months to prepare to stage a world-class event. After an 18-year hiatus, rallying fans around the world will expect nothing short of that.
It is worth noting that the government had set aside Sh350 million to help KMSF to set up a secretariat to organise the event. The secretariat should get down to work.
Already, the partial resumption of sporting activities has seen Kenya stage two international sporting events: The Nairobi leg of World Athletics Continental Tour on October 3 at Nyayo National Stadium, and a friendly football match between Kenya and Zambia at the same venue last Friday.
The two events were held in strict adherence to Covid-19 health protocols and Safari Rally organisers should learn from them.
The appointment of Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed to the World Motor Sport Council, a key governance organ of FIA, is a big boost towards hosting a successful Safari Rally. It affirms the global motorsport’s confidence in Kenya.
A successful Safari Rally will pay back FIA’s faith in Kenya.