Safari Rally return boosted by government backing

Jean Todt alongside dignitaries from Uganda and Kenya
Credit: The Standard- Kenya.

The possible return of Safari Rally to the FIA World Rally Championship has been given a massive (£1.8 m) boost by the Kenyan government for the rally to make a comeback by 2020.

Both the Kenyan and Ugandan governments support a return to the event, with Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta signing off for £1.8 m worth of investment to get the project off the ground.

The last time WRC took to the stage for the Safari Rally was 2002, won by Colin McRae in a Ford Focus RS.

If it does return it would be a great project for the region, for WRC, and the motorsport community in general.

The Safari Rally does continue, but under the African Rally Championship and Kenyan Rally Championship, with last year’s event won by Tapio Laukkanen in a Subaru Impreza WRX.

But it is not the same as the event being a global phenomenon, and with FIA President Jean Todt being a longtime supporter of returning WRC to Africa, the cards are fully on the table for this event to return to the world of rallying very soon indeed.

Uganda’s Motorsport chairman Dusman Okee pressed the case for the return of Rally Safari for the first time since 2002 as a WRC event when he met with WRC Promoter Oliver Ciesla last year.

“We recognize the Safari’s long and proud history in the FIA World Rally Championship and the place it holds in the hearts of Kenya’s population.” said Ciesla.

“We welcome the sincere passion and the strong efforts and commitment which the country’s government and the Kenya Motorsports Federation is injecting into the project of returning the WRC to Africa. 

“We are committed to hosting a WRC round on the African continent in the near future and will continue to work closely alongside the government and federation with the goal of seeing the Safari Rally back on the WRC calendar.”

Now the political movement has been set in motion and with the project having investment behind it, surely it is a time of when rather than if Rally Safari will make a return to the WRC calendar.