At least nine drivers from three factory teams are a confirmed entry for the 2021 World Championship (WRC) Safari Rally that will run from June 24 to 27 in Nairobi and Naivasha, well ahead the official opening of entries for the Kenyan classic on May 11.
The drivers, led by world champion Sebastien Ogier of France who leads the four-car Toyota Gazoo Racing Team, are excited to journey to Kenya for the unknown experience as none of them has the old Safari Rally experience.
Meanwhile, Iain Campbell, a lead expert seconded to the Safari - which is returning to the high profile WRC after a 19-year hiatus - by the International Motorsport Federation (FIA) commercial rights holder, the WRC Promoter, arrived yesterday for another round of inspections.
Campbell, who has been on regular inspection visits to Kenya since the beginning of 2019 to also impact locals with technical and managerial expertise commensurate to the WRC standards, was on a visit of the Naivasha sections just hours after landing in Nairobi yesterday morning.
The Briton said "the real work has just begun" and that the next 10 days of his Kenyan visit will be very important, "though challenging."
"Today, we inspected the five-kilometre Shakedown stage at Ndulele Conservancy. I should say it is only five kilometres but has all the 18 stages compressed in into five kilometres," he explained.
"It will give the drivers a feel of the Safari before the real competition on June 24 to 27," he added at the Lake Naivasha Resort which will also play host to the WRC Safari Rally headquarters during the competition.
Accompanied by Clerk of the Course Gurvir Bhabra, Anwar Sidi (Media Safety Harry Sagoo (Chief Controller) and Dom Saunders of UK Motorsport, Campbell went out on the route to identify radio communication locations.
The Briton expressed his confidence with the pace of the work accomplished so far.
Bhabra is also confident that his team of officials will deliver while WRC Safari Rally Chief Executive Officer Phineas Kimathi also expressed his satisfaction at the progress his team has made so far.
"I appreciate all the work that has been put in so far. Everyone is happy and the team is gelling well," Kimathi said last night.
Today, Campbell and the team of officials will have a look at some more sections and also review the rally's Service Park at the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute in Naivasha to identify areas allocated to teams, media and management.
They will be joined by Portugal's Joao Passos another expert from the WRC set-up who was expected to arrive in Nairobi last night.
Meanwhile, Kimathi also sent a message of condolences to Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed following the death of her brother Esmael Mohammed Jibril.
Jibril, a prominent Nairobi businessman, died on Monday while receiving treatment in India.
Jibril's body is expected today ahead of his burial which is also today.
CS Amina is also a member of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council and is key to the WRC Safari Rally's preparations.