Kenya: Kasarani, Chui, Oserian, Kedong to Launch Safari Rally

A lot has been written about the eagerly-awaited 2021 World Rally Championship Safari Rally.

For the uninformed, the WRC Safari Rally is a spectator friendly competition which, for the first time, is being held in closed roads inside private farms to avoid bodabodas, stray animals and matatus, not to mention the undisciplined road users.

The safety and security personnel are under strict instructions to marshal rally routes and all surrounding road arteries to avoid the unexpected as witnessed in a fatal accident away from the rally scene in 2019.

Fans are advised to start scouting for accommodation to avoid last minute disappointment occasioned by low bed capacity in Naivasha.

Before then, Covid-19 containment allowing, the highly tuned cars led by world's best drivers in factory racing-prepared World Rally Cars will rev off on June 24 outside the traditional starting point at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre from 12 noon.

Arrive early at Kasarani

In the starting line-up will be seven times world champion Sebastien Ogier in a Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris gleaming the equatorial sunshine and his peers who have never raced in Africa. The cars will have been tested at the Kasarani stadium's Super Special Stage off Thika Road in the morning before returning to the KICC for the ceremonial start, heading back to Kasarani for the first competitive race of the day.

If you love drama and cars, it is advisable to arrive early at Kasarani -- just behind the main stadium, bordering Santon Estate which will be accessed through Mwiki road --for a day-long entertainment from these little cars whose engine sounds are music to petrol heads' ears. The cars will then head to Naivasha via the lush tea plantations of Tigoni for an overnight halt.

Residents of Naivasha, from the KWS Training Institute, all the way along Moi South Road, will have the opportunity to watch the cars doing nothing, nonetheless a sight to behold, from 7:20am on their way to the second competitive stage, Chui Lodge, followed by Oserian and Kedong Ranch stages.

The Chui stage is a highly-treed area full of buffaloes and will be closed to the public.

These are new routes measuring slightly over 13 kilometres. The distance is deceiving because the average speeds will be high on a twisty road section. Fans will not be allowed in, but Kenyans will be following the action on live television.

Kasarani, though a timed competitive stage, will be for showbiz as the rally proper starts on Friday, June 25, in the private land Chui Lodge (13km) from 8:20am, followed by Oserian (18km). Both stages will be repeated in the afternoon.

Situated within the Oserengoni Wildlife Conservancy Estate, neither has been used as rally special stages before.

Although just on the other side of the hill from the Chui Lodge stage, Oserian is the faster of the two set on the African plains but with some stingily two 45 degrees inclined hills followed by varying vegetation and road surfaces. The first run will then head to the expansive Kedong Ranch, starting from the gate opposite Sopa Lodge from 9:16am and repeated in the afternoon.

The stage is 36.68 kilometres long with some straights, twisty sections with Mt Longonot offering the perfect, breathtaking background view. Not a walk in the park.

This is an old stage which has stung many drivers in the past, and as recent as 2019 when Manvir's Baryan, enroute to a possible victory, saw the Safari crown slip from his fingers after his Skoda Fabia ingested fine lava ash dust.

Unobstructed view

Kedong will host two large spectator areas. One at the end of the stage, and the other at the lake Naivasha end, second adjacent to Longonot. Fans will be able to access the second via Longonot town.

It offers unobstructed view of the cars in action as well as the perfect television images displaying Kenya as a land of diversity.

The movement of the spectators will be controlled by safety marshals and disciplined forces, and everybody will be at least 90 feet away from the rally route. Fans are advised to carry takeaway meals since no cooking will be allowed to avoid forest fires.

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