Kenya: FIA Hails Equator Rally Organisers, Plans for Safari Fine-Tuned

The African Rally Championship (ARC) Equator Rally held in Naivasha on April 24 served as an eye opener.

Certainly, the dry run for the World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally exposed strengths and flaws, which organisers must address before the iconic Safari Rally scheduled for June 24-27.

The International Motorsport Federation (FIA), in its report, hailed the organising team which has been under scrutiny for two years.

From the look of things, a huge speactor turnout is expected at the Safari after President Uhuru Kenyatta lifted the suspension on sporting activities on Labour Day. Sports had been suspended due to a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in Kenya.

The WRC Safari Rally organisers are not taking any chances.

Chief Covid-19 delegate Kevin Rodrigues says 676 rally personnel were tested for the virus and will be stationed inside the main Service Park at the Naivasha Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute.

An additional 2,700 personnel will undergo similar tests, while 300 others who received the Covid-19 vaccine last month, are in line for the second dose.

Rodrigues said they took note of the areas of weakness which they are addressing.

He also said that Kenya is applying the FIA Appendix S of the FIA International Sporting Covid Code of Conduct to meet the set medical standards.

"First, we will ensure that we prepare well for the event and that all attendees are aware of the restrictions in terms of movement," said Rodrigues.

Medical centres are being put in what is referred to as high-density areas for competitors.

Other centres will be set up for people without restricted movement in the low-density area outside the main service park.

Logistics were a herculean task. Service providers Chairmania and Wonderjoy did a good job, though. They set up enough structures to accommodate over 10,000 people for three days.

Chairmania Managing Director Charles Kanyi said they ferried the equipment in 15 prime movers, set up tents in remote locations, including the VIP area which hosted President Uhuru Kenyatta at Soysambu on April 24.

The icing on the cake for the Safari Rally plans is the expected arrival mid this month of the manufacturer teams' equipment and race car kits which are on the high seas.

The equipment will be offloaded at the port of Mombasa and transferred on a SGR special express train that will transport the 64 containers to the Mai Mahiu Inland Container Depot in less than 10 hours.

Ford, Hyundai, and Toyota are the main manufacturers' teams that will give the Safari a truly global appeal for engineers, the media and spectators.

There are calls for Britain to ease movement protocols to safeguard the needs of teams coming from that country which might have to adhere to long periods of quarantine when they return home.

Another factor is the observation of speed limits for rally drivers in the Safari.

Fans who will line up along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway will not be treated to high speeds, unlike in the old WRC Safari Rally. The FIA takes the issue of speeding on open roads seriously, and will impose heavy fines on offending competitors who do not adhere to the set rules.

Another case worth mentioning happened in the Croatian Rally recently when world champion Sebestien Ogier was slapped with a Sh906,255 fine by stewards after causing a road accident with an ordinary motorist and jumping traffic lights.

The fine was split into two -Sh646,568 for the accident and the rest for failing to obey a police officer's order to stop.

In defence, Ogier who went on to win the rally, said a mechanical fault in his Toyota Yaris caused the accident. He was further fined Sh258,528 for jumping the traffic lights.

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