This year the Rally once known as the 'toughest rally across the world' shall be one year short of marking its Diamond anniversary. This Rally which was inaugurated in 1953 to mark the coronation of then Princess Elizabeth to current Queen Elizabeth - the ruling British monarch, who had chosen Kenya as her holiday destination.
|Juha Kankunnen 1993 Safari Rally - image courtesy of www.turbocelica.nl|
The Rally initially was called the EA Coronation Safari, then changing to East African Safari Rally upto 1974 when it settled on the more famous Safari Rally moniker. It was part of the World Rally Championships circuit up until 2003 when the world's governing body in rallying dropped it. Safety practices, huge expenses for rally teams and lack of corporate sponsorships among others were given as the reasons.
However the Rally has managed to keep its own in the last 10 years and has been a major rally as part of the African Rally Championships - ARC. It has also gradually changed into shorter and more open sections than the traditional rally which was marked by longer and sometimes overnight legs.
Safari Rally Changes
The Safari Rally was also forced to shift its traditional timing from the Easter weekend which usually fell between the months of March and April to the month of June.
It was also forced to split into the East Africa Safari Rally Classic which features older cars manufactured in the 1960s,70s to 80s when the Rally was at its best. The rally was last held last November criss-crossing Kenya and Tanzania.
The organisers have also introduced the popular 'Spectator Stages' which are real crowd pullers at the start or end of the major stages. This year's Rally will also be hoped to entice the WRC gurus back to this side of the Sahara as Africa yearns for a substantive Rally in that circuit.
Check out this link for some interesting stats on the Safari Rally pre-2003.
To all you Rallying enthusiasts mark your calendars for the 8th-10th June 2012 for this dazzle of a Rally!