Kenya has signed a deal with World Rally Championship to extend Safari Rally hosting rights to December 2026 following its successful return to the Championship after almost two decades.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and WRC Promoter GmbH Managing Director Jona Siebel signed the deal at the Automobile Club of Monaco.
Witnessing the signing of the deal was WRC Safari Rally Chief Executive Officer Phineas Kimathi and Event Director at the WRC Promoter GmbH Simon Larkin.
Siebel congratulated Kenya for hosting a great rallying event in 2021 after a 19-year absence from the global calendar.
He said having the event with a deeply-rooted heritage and the people’s passion immensely contributes to the growth of the sport.
“Having such an iconic event with such a strong tradition, heritage and the whole passion of the people means a lot for the growth of the WRC as a global championship,” Siebel said.
He also said the signing of the contract was a strong statement and noted it was the longest contract WRC Promoter has ever signed.
“It’s by far the longest contract we have ever signed and this is a strong, strong statement, isn’t it?” he posed.
Siebel thanked President Uhuru Kenyatta, CS Amina and all volunteers for their commitment.
Amina also thanked WRT and the International Automobile Federation (FIA) for their support in growing Safari Rally.
She said because of working together with WRC and FIA and the launch of various support programs in the country, the hope of young Safari Rally drivers to compete in the most prestigious rally championships can be actualised.
“Due to our close co-operation and partnership with FIA and WRC and the activation of the different support programmes in Kenya, young Safari Rally drivers now have the hope for a future where they compete in the world’s most prestigious rally championships and be ranked alongside the world’s greatest rally drivers,” Amina said.
The Sports CS also said Safari Rally was among Uhuru’s flagship projects and its return was a pledge he made in 2003.
“The Safari Rally is one of the flagship projects of His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of the Republic of Kenya, who played a key role in its return in 2021, after a 19-year hiatus; a promise that he pledged in 2013, and kept,” Amina said.
The 2022 WRC Safari Rally will run from June 23rd to 26th, in Naivas