Exploring Magical Kenya and The Revival of the Iconic Safari Rally


Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Vincent Landais (FRA) Of team TOYOTA GAZOO RACING WRT are seen during the World Rally Championship Kenya in Naivasha, Kenya on 25 June, 2023 // Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202306250238 // Usage for editorial use only //

By Mwambazi Lawrence

Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Vincent Landais (FRA) Of team TOYOTA GAZOO RACING WRT at the finish of the grueling safari.

In the world of motorsports, there are events that stand as giants, and among them is the Safari Rally. As I put pen to paper, I find myself humbled by the history and legacy that this iconic race carries. From its origins in 1953, celebrating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, to its triumphant return to the World Rally Championship in 2021 after an eighteen-year hiatus, the Safari Rally weaves a tale of passion, perseverance, and the unyielding spirit of competition. Join me on a journey through time, as we explore the enchanting yet challenging realms of this legendary race, where each turn tells a story of racing prowess and the undying love for the sport.

A Thunderous Start in 1953

The Safari Rally kicked off its journey in 1953, not as just another race but as a roaring celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. From the outset, it was clear that this was no ordinary rally. Fast forward to 2021, and the Safari Rally returns to the WRC, setting the stage for an adrenaline-fueled comeback.

Taming the Untamed Terrain

Picture this: 5,000 kilometers of unruly roads, ranging from fine powdered sand to fast farm tracks and treacherous paths along the Great Rift Valley. The Safari Rally isn’t just a race; it’s a battle against the elements. Drivers navigate through fesh fesh, tackle mud-ridden roads in the pouring rain, and race on open roads where caution is as crucial as speed.

Machines Built for the Wild

Teams don’t bring ordinary cars to the Safari Rally; they bring beasts. Specially crafted vehicles with bullbars, snorkels for river crossings, and blinding lights to ward off wildlife. Helicopters fly ahead, scouting for potential obstacles, adding a thrilling element to the already intense competition.

The modern wrc car tearing through one of the fesh fesh stages of the safari

Revolutionizing the Race

In 1996, the Safari Rally underwent a transformation, adopting the special stage format. Servicing cars mid-air was banned, raising the stakes even higher. The race, known for its grueling length and challenging conditions, became a battleground where only the fiercest could emerge victorious.

Triumphant Return in 2021

After an eighteen-year hiatus, the Safari Rally made a triumphant return to the WRC in 2021. Held on the floor of the Rift Valley in Naivasha, Nakuru County, the event was a showcase of speed, skill, and endurance. Sebastian Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, behind the wheel of their Toyota Yaris WRC, emerged as the champions, leaving spectators on the edge of their seats.

Sebastian Ogier poses with the Masai Warriors at the finish

Kenyan Titans and Rally Royalty

Shekhar Mehta and Carl Tundo, Kenyan rally legends, have etched their names in Safari Rally history. Mehta’s dominance in the ’70s and Tundo’s triumphs in the African Rally Championship era have become the stuff of legends. Their five outright victories each are a testament to their prowess on these challenging tracks.

local Hero Carl Tundo Taking on the grueling safari Rally

The Saga Continues Until 2026

Hold your breath because the action isn’t stopping anytime soon. The Safari Rally has inked a contract with the WRC, ensuring that the roar of engines and the thrill of the race will echo through the untamed landscapes until 2026.This year the landscapes will once again reverberate with the thunderous roar of engines and the exhilarating excitement of the race. Scheduled to take place from the 28th to the 31st of March, right in the heart of the Easter weekend.

This journey through the illustrious history of the Safari Rally in the enchanting landscapes of Magical Kenya, one can’t help but feel a sense of awe and appreciation for the enduring spirit of this iconic event. From its humble beginnings in 1953 to the thrilling comeback in 2021, the Safari Rally remains a testament to the indomitable human spirit, the love for racing, and the untamed beauty of Kenya’s terrains. As we eagerly await the upcoming chapters of this legendary race, let us reflect on the rich tapestry of stories woven by the drivers, teams, and the fans who make the Safari Rally not just a race, but a timeless celebration of passion and perseverance.

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