AFRICAN rally champion, Mohammed Essa, has ruled himself out of the Rally Cote d'Ivoire Bandama set for March 1-3 in Abidjan.
The Rally Bandama Cote d'Ivoire is the opening round of this year's eight-event FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) series that ends in November but Essa in an interview yesterday said he would not be taking part due to financial constraints.
Essa, who drives a Madison/Puma Energy Subaru Impreza N12B, said in an interview yesterday that he would have loved to participate in the rally but Ivory Coast was just too far for him, saying he needed a lot of money to transport his car and crew.
The 23-year-old Essa said he had instead lined up the Sasol Rally South Africa, Zambia International Rally, Rally Tanzania, KCB Safari Rally Kenya and Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally.
He said his performance in South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda would determine whether or not to participate in the final two rallies of the year, the Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally and International Madagascar Rally.
"No I am not doing Ivory Coast. It is too far for us to travel. I am planning on doing South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and from there we shall decide if we need to do the others," he said.
Essa won his maiden African rally title in Dar-Es-Salaam last year after scooping the Rally of Tanzania which he dominated from start to finish.
Rally Cote d'Ivoire Bandama organisers have said crews interested in participating in the rally who are unable to transport their cars to Ivory Coast can contact them to rent Mitsubishi Evo 10 Group N cars from Belgium's Colsoul Rallysport at 12,000 euro (K90 million or KR90,000).
Included in the 12,000 euro is renting the car, transporting it from Belgium to Abidjan and back, and airfares for mechanics and managers.