It isn’t often that a driver returns to the World Rally Championship after a twenty-four-year absence, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone doing that. However, Sobieslaw Zasada is the man taking on that challenge at the Safari Rally Kenya (24-27 June). What makes this announcement even more stunning, is that Polish driver Zasada will become the oldest ever WRC entrant at the age of 91! This proves that you’re only as old as you feel.
He is set to compete in the event behind the wheel of a Fiesta Rally3 run by M-Sport Poland. His last competitive outing came at the Safari Rally 24 years ago in 1997. He took to the stages behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer with his wife Ewa as co-driver. The pair came home 12th in what was Zasada’s eighth running of the event. This upcoming ninth time around, Zasada hopes to prove that age is just a number, and will be going all out, according to M-Sport Poland’s managing director Maciej Woda;
“He is not going there just to drive through, Sobielsaw has great memories of the Safari and wanted to go back to the rally to see what it looks like now.”
Woda should know, having met Zasada decades ago when trying to forge a Rallying career of his own;
“I kept telephoning him twice a day, every day, for five months,” Woda recalls. “After five months I finally got to meet him and he gave me some great advice.”
Zasada’s advice would have come from his considerable knowledge and experience. The Pole finished runner-up in the Safari Rally of 1972 behind the wheel of a Porsche 911S, bettered only by Rally legend Hannu Mikkola. As well as this, Zasada won the European Rally Championship in 1966, 1967 and 1971 and in addition, finished runner-up on three occasions. Much of this success pre-dated the formation of the FIA World Rally Championship in 1973, meaning that those European titles served as a strong claim of best in world rallying at the time. WRC fans will be keen to see if Zasada still has a bit of that magic left in him, in what is sure to be one of the feel-good WRC stories of the year.