A 91-year old will be the oldest competitor to start a World Rally Championship round in championship history as the Safari makes a return to Kenya after a 19-year hiatus. Sobiesław Zasada testing his car at Oserian just two days before the thrilling showpiece in preparation for the rally.
The rally will be held in Naivasha between 23rd and 27th June 2021, featuring several spectator stages – Loldia, Kasarani SSS, Kedong, Soysambu, Sleeping Warrior and Hell’s Gate.
Coincidentally, Zasada’s last rally was the 1997 Safari Rally when he finished 12th alongside his wife, Ewa, in a Mitsubishi Lancer. Now he is back just like the Safari Rally and all eyes will be on the nanogenerian to see he fairs on in one of the most thrilling and gruesome rallies in the WRC calendar.
A total of 58 drivers – 34 Kenyan and 24 international racers – will take part in what is billed as the most adventurous races in the global series.
The 58 number is a surprise to many a critic, some citing the example of the WRC Portugal leg, despite being located in Europe and usually one of the more popular rallies in the world circuit, featured 56 entries.
All three manufacturer teams – Ford, Hyundai, and Toyota – will field 11 drivers in the Priority One list, supported by two cars in WR2 second category which has attracted a healthy field, all looking for valuable WRC points in this category.
President Uhuru Kenyatta says Kenya is ready and adequately prepared to welcome back the event, urging Kenyan motorsport enthusiasts who will be attending the four-day Safari Rally to adhere to the safety guidelines to ensure the country maintains the status of being among the WRC hosts which had taken the country years of negotiations and preparations to bring back the event which was suspended in 2003.
“My hope and my prayer is that the manner in which we shall conduct ourselves over the next few days will be such that everybody will accept and understand that the Safari Rally is now here and is here to stay, and we’re not likely to lose it,” said the Head of State Thursday at State House, Nairobi when he presented brand new rally cars to young Kenyan drivers – Hamza Anwar (22), McRae Kimathi (26) and Jeremy Wahome (22).
“But that will depend on not only with how you all perform, all the agencies involved will perform but how Kenyans themselves will behave.”
Defending champion and seven-time winner Sébastien Ogier Ogier leads the stellar cast of drivers that also features iconic names Thierry Neuville, Ott Tänak, Dani Sordo and Oliver Solberg, son to Petter Solberg who also competed in the Safari Rally during his hey-days.