Friday, 2 March 2012

Motor-Rallying in Kenya - Motorsport gets Kenyans revving

Motor-rallying in Kenya has been a sport which has had mixed fortunes in the last couple of years. After the bundling out of the Safari Rally from the World Rally Championship circuit from 2003, the country's rallying enthusiasts ( including ourselves) were in denial. It slowly dawned on the sport that there needs to be a review of sorts, the downward spiral is being arrested.
Roar your Engines...image courtesy of

The national sports bodies for the sport MotorSport Kenya has had much of their work cut out and has managed to liaise with major corporates to ensure the sport remains relevant to the Kenyan rally fan. Indeed much kudos to the federation in the last two years which have seen Rallies taking place beyond the traditional towns and regions. Through the Kenya National Rallying Championship, this year already non-traditional rallies have seen the national circuit visit centres such as Nyeri and the forthcoming Nakuru rally. This is largely in part to KCB's sponsorship, this year alone standing at KSh. 36 million.
While these efforts are admirable, what remains to be seen as progress in the sport is the reinstatement of the Safari Rally onto the WRC calendar of events. The Rally has been part of the Africa Rally Championship as well as Intercontinental Rally Challenge , the latter from time to time ( its erstwhile Classic version, has been held bi-annual bringing former rally drivers  and enthusiasts back to 'Africa's Rallying home').
A number of conditions have been set out by the FIA which runs the sport internationally. These include;
1. No Night -rallying/Shorter Rally routes - One of the biggest challenges for rallying in Kenya and indeed Africa is the terrain which makes it almost impossible to rally during the day only. It has been tried by having shorter rallies on graded roads with speedy sections in between. Due to this also, Service Centres need be aplenty to help rallying and crew members to work on their cars efficiently.
2. Graded v/s Rough roads - Again the African terrain comes into play this time being the actual infrastructure which makes rallying a joy to watch. Though major works are being carried out on Kenyan roads, there are still many more which make it difficult for WRC teams to bring their expensive machinery here.
3. Tax Rebates - rallying in any country is big money. WRC is even bigger money. With this comes crew, equipment, fuel among many other support services. When the WRC teams left in 2002, part of their concerns were how expensive the Rally had become. Government and relevant authorities need look into this to see how best to entice WRC rally teams back.
4. Title Sponsor - while KCB has continually sponsored the Rally for the last many years, it would be fair to say that the amounts payable can be raised to other world rally levels. Other Kenyan and regional corporations should also look for ways to propping up the main sponsor to ensure success of the event @AccessKenya  @iWayAfrica are but some of the corporates hanging on - the Tobacco ban in sports and advertising did the sport a great disservice
5. Fans & Security - many a times we have seen trouble spots on roads in Kenya even without rallying. The rally machines are not any easier when put on the road. This is a national problem that rallying enthusiasts have to learn and get adopted into sooner rather than than later.

These are but just a few of the conditions that can be addressed to restore this great Rally. But we should not beat ourselves too hard, other popular Rallies have also been knocked out including the Corsica Rally, Cote d'Ivoire, Turkey and other rallies.

In Other News:
While checking on some information about the FIA Board, Surinder Thatthi is listed as a Tanzanian citizen. Could this be the reason the Safari Rally will always find it hard to make it back to the WRC rounds? Just asking...

No comments: