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The Safari Rally Kenya is an adrenaline-fueled motorsport event that captivates the hearts of Kenyans and rally enthusiasts from around the world. It is an annual championship that brings together skilled rally drivers, passionate spectators, and a vibrant atmosphere. In this ultimate guide, we will delve into the details of the Safari Rally Kenya 2023
This annual championship, which will take place in 2023 from Thursday, June 22nd to Sunday, June 25th, promises high-octane action and captivating spectacles. As one of the most challenging legs of the World Rally Championship (WRC), the Safari Rally Kenya 2023 attracts top-notch drivers from around the globe.
The Safari Rally Kenya has a rich history that dates back several decades. It first gained international recognition in 1973 when it became part of the WRC calendar. Over the years, the rally has evolved, facing various challenges and changes in format. It went on a hiatus in 2002 but made a triumphant return in 2021, much to the delight of rally enthusiasts.
Back in 1953, the grand East African Coronation Safari took place in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika. It was a glorious celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. In 1960, it was renamed the East African Safari Rally and continued to captivate hearts until 1974 when it became the legendary Kenya Safari Rally. This legendary event eventually evolved into the exhilarating modern-day World Rally Championship (WRC). Today, the Safari Rally stands as one of the most highly anticipated races on the WRC calendar, alongside the iconic 1,000 Lakes of Finland and the thrilling Monte Carlo Rally.
Prepare yourself for an adventure like no other as the Safari Rally Kenya encompasses closed dirt roads, stunning picturesque landscapes, exotic wildlife, treacherously rocky and rutted tracks, and the ever-unpredictable weather that can transform dusty paths into slippery and challenging mud baths. The Kenya Safari Rally has forever been a tantalizing test for drivers of all levels, renowned for its unpredictable nature, extended distances, and abundance of surprises that heighten the thrill for the spectators.
The 2023 WRC Safari Rally is set to ignite the tracks from Thursday, June 22nd, to Sunday, June 25th, 2023. Nairobi County and Naivasha in Nakuru County will bear witness to the incredible spectacle. The rally will kick off with a flag-off ceremony at Nairobi’s magnificent Uhuru Park on June 22nd, 2023. Following that, the awe-inspiring action will unfold at the Kasarani Grounds during the Super Special Stage.
The Participants of Safari Rally Kenya 2023
This year’s edition has attracted a dazzling lineup of 34 skilled participants, including the reigning Safari Rally champion and current WRC points leader, Kalle Rovanpera. Notable international drivers who have confirmed their presence include Sébastien Ogier, the triumphant 2021 WRC Safari Rally Champion, Ott Tänak, Evans Elfyn, Thierry Neuville, Esapekka Lappi, Dani Sordo, Katsuta Takamoto, and Solberg Oliver.
Anticipate a fierce battle between Finland’s Kalle Rovanpera and Ogier, the reigning champion and current leader of the WRC standings. The Toyota Gazoo Racing team has been dominating the past two years, with Sebastian Ogier securing victory in 2021 and Kalle Rovanpera leading an extraordinary 1-2-3-4 TGR finish last year.
In the WRC2 category, Kenya’s own Karan Patel will valiantly represent the host country against a field of international competitors. Patel will face off against last year’s class winners, Kajetan Kajetanowicz from Poland, Oliver Solberg, Grégoire Munster, and many other talented drivers. As for the WRC3 category, the victory is yearning to remain in Kenya, with only one foreign crew, Diego Dominguez of Paraguay, challenging the local talents of Hamza Anwar, Jeremiah Wahome, and McRae Kimathi. These three remarkable FIA Rally Star Drivers are proudly sponsored by Safaricom and Kenya Airways, steering their Rally 3 Ford Fiestas to glory.
Alongside the remarkable FIA Rally Stars and Karan Patel, the rest of the Kenyan team features an exceptional roster, including Tundo Carl, Virani Aakif, Canobbio Piero, Singh Vohra Samman, Kavisi Evans, Rathod Minesh, and Kariuki Josiah.
The Changes of Safari Rally Kenya 2023 Route
The Kenya Safari Rally 2023 encompasses a staggering total of 19 special stages (SS1 to SS19). This year, there’s an exciting addition to the route—a unique and captivating stretch from Malewa—completing a competitive distance of 362.68 kilometers. The stages will take place within the breathtaking conservancies of Naivasha and Elementaita. The Safari Rally Route 2023 closely resembles the thrilling 2022 rally, with minor adjustments to certain stages. The only significant change is the replacement of the Naivasha stage with the mesmerizing Malewa stage.
The Stretches of Safari Rally Kenya
Shakedown, a pulse-raising 5.40-kilometer stretch, will leave you breathless as it challenges the drivers four times. Kasarani, a gripping 4.84-kilometer stage, will provide high-octane excitement twice. Loldia, a heart-racing 19.17-kilometer stage, will test the drivers’ limits twice. Brace yourself for the adrenaline surge of Geothermal, one of the fastest stages spanning 13.12 kilometers, eagerly awaiting the competitors for two exhilarating runs. Kedong, renowned for its thrilling Fesh Fesh, offers the second longest stage of the event, stretching across 30.62 kilometers and keeping the drivers on their toes for two gripping rounds.
Soysambu, a challenging 29.32-kilometer stage, will push the competitors to their limits twice. Elementaita, a captivating 15.08-kilometer stage, will come alive with heart-stopping action for two intense laps. The ultimate highlight, Sleeping Warrior, awaits with its monumental 31.04-kilometer stretch, promising unparalleled excitement, especially if the rain pours down. Finally, Malewa, making a triumphant return after last year’s substitution, will captivate with its 8.33-kilometer course, setting the stage ablaze twice. Oserian, a thrilling 18.33-kilometer stage, will test the drivers’ skills twice, while Hells Gate will close the thrilling rally, leaving us in awe before the grand prize-giving ceremony.
The Dates of Safari Rally Kenya
Mark your calendars and immerse yourself in the spine-tingling WRC Safari Rally 2023 with its captivating stages. Let the excitement unfold:
Wednesday, June 21st: Experience the nail-biting Shakedown at Loldia.
Thursday, June 22nd: Witness the majestic flag-off ceremony at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, followed by the heart-pounding Kasarani Super Special Stage.
Friday, June 23rd: Brace yourself for the thrilling action at Loldia, Geothermal, and Kedong.
Saturday, June 24th: Feel the adrenaline surge as the drivers conquer the challenges of Soysambu, Elementaita, and the awe-inspiring Sleeping Warrior.
Sunday, June 25th: Prepare for the gripping finale with Malewa, Oserian, and the exhilarating Hells Gate stage in Naivasha.
Best of all, admission to Safari Rally Kenya Kenya 2023 is completely free! Beware of scammers, as no tickets are required to access the venue. The rally is open for all to enjoy, so embrace the thrill without any hindrances.
Planning your stay of Safari Rally Kenya
For those planning to stay throughout the rally, make sure you’ve secured your accommodation in advance. Naivasha offers a stunning selection of options, but ensure your chosen location provides easy access to the rally venue and the routes the drivers will conquer. With the entire country joining the festivities, traffic can become wild, so arrive early and avoid missing out on the excitement.
Remember to stay hydrated in the scorching heat and pack light for convenience. The rally brings a world of adventure right to your doorstep. During your stay, seize the opportunity to embark on a boat ride across the enchanting Lake Naivasha, explore the wonders of Hells Gate, hike to the breathtaking Menengai crater, or simply unwind at one of the exquisite resorts along the Naivasha-Nakuru-Nairobi route.
Requirements for Joining Safari Rally Kenya
If you aspire to be a part of the Safari Rally Kenya, you must meet certain requirements. While having a driving license is essential, there are other roles associated with the rally that you can pursue even without a license. Networking with passionate rally drivers, enrolling in a rally school, and choosing a suitable rally car are crucial steps in starting your rally career.
Safari Rally Kenya Car Selection
Choosing the right car for the Safari Rally is a critical decision. Popular car models for the rally include Toyota, Hyundai, Subaru, and Ford. It is important to select a car that you feel comfortable maneuvering and that suits your skill level. Consulting an experienced mentor can help you make an informed choice when it comes to selecting your rally car.
Training and Rally Schools
To excel in the Safari Rally Kenya, comprehensive training is essential. Several rally schools in Kenya offer mentorship and training programs for aspiring rally drivers. These schools, such as the Kenya Motorsport Federation and Abdul Sidi Rally Academy, provide the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate the challenging terrains and conditions encountered during the rally.
Cost Considerations for Rally Drivers
Becoming a rally driver entails financial investment. The costs involved include car expenses, licensing fees, entry fees for rallies, car maintenance, motor insurance, accommodation, and meals during the rally duration. As a beginner, you should budget for at least Ksh1 million to kickstart your safari rally profession. It is important to plan and manage your finances effectively to ensure a smooth journey in the world of rally driving.
Qualifying for and Joining the World Rally Championship (WRC)
For rally drivers aspiring to participate in the prestigious World Rally Championship (WRC), meeting certain qualifications is paramount. Acquiring a WRC license from the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) is essential, along with gaining significant rallying experience. Building a strong support system and registering for WRC competitions are also crucial steps in your journey towards joining the WRC.
Participating in WRC Rallies: Costs and Considerations
Participating in WRC rallies requires careful planning and financial investment. The costs involved can vary depending on the location, championship category, and the type of car used. Safari Rally Kenya cars can cost upwards of Ksh 2 million, and putting together a strong team and meeting all the necessary requirements can amount to a significant financial commitment. It is important to factor in costs such as accommodation, entry fees, insurance, and other expenses when considering participation in WRC rallies.
The Safari Rally Kenya 2023 promises an unforgettable experience for rally drivers, spectators, and motorsport enthusiasts alike. The event’s rich history, challenging terrain, and vibrant atmosphere make it a highlight of the World Rally Championship calendar. By meeting the requirements, investing in training, and managing the financial aspects, you can embark on an exciting journey in the world of rally driving. So gear up, prepare yourself, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime at the Safari Rally Kenya 2023!