Shameer “Ole Yusuf” A Rally Maestro’s Journey from Enthusiast to Triumphs


Kenyan Rally Veteran Shares His Remarkable Career and Hurdles in the Motorsport Arena

By Mwambazi Lawrence

In the heart of Nairobi, Kenya, born on the 20th of January 1978, Shameer Yusuf, affectionately known as Ole Yusuf, has etched his name into the books of Kenya’s rallying history. Yusuf, a dedicated service provider to farmers, transcends his daily life to passionately pursue his love for rallying – a passion that ignited at the tender age of 10.

Early Years and Infatuation with Rallying

Growing up in a country with a rich rallying heritage, Yusuf found himself drawn to the exhilarating world of motorsports. Kenya, historically renowned for its rallying prowess in East Africa, provided the perfect backdrop for young enthusiasts like Yusuf. His introduction to rallying was through family and friends, attending the iconic Safari Rally as a spectator.

As his passion deepened, Yusuf eagerly volunteered as a marshal and time control official, craving any opportunity to be closer to the rallying action. The turning point came in 2010 during the Guru Nanak Rally in Kajiado, where Yusuf made his rallying debut alongside Ugandan Dr. Ashraf. Despite an early retirement due to a wheel mishap, it marked the beginning of Yusuf’s illustrious rallying journey.

The Journey to 100 Rallies

From that point on, Yusuf participated in numerous rallies, amassing close to 80 events. His goal is to reach the coveted milestone of 100 rallies before retiring, showcasing his enduring commitment to the sport. One of the highlights came in 2015 when he ventured beyond Kenyan borders, competing in Tanzania with Gurjit Singh Dhani and securing victory in several rallies between 2015 and 2018.

Yusuf’s involvement extended beyond driving, as he took up official duties as Assistant Clerk for the prestigious East African Classic Rally in 2017 and 2019, adding another dimension to his motorsport portfolio.

Shameer Yusuf (c), Prince Nyerere(L) and Hamza Anwar(R) at the Rwanda Mt Gorilla Rally 2023

Trials and Triumphs

The veteran rally driver faced challenges in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the season. Undeterred, Yusuf rebounded in 2021, participating in the FIA Rally Stars program as a codriver for MCrae Kimathi and engaging in events alongside local drivers and Piero Canobio.

The year 2023 brought a series of accomplishments for Yusuf, marking his foray into team management with Talanta Hela in the WRC Safari Rally. His success continued when he won the ARC2 navigator championship and his driver Prince Nyerere securing a notable 2nd place .

Yusuf and Prince Nyererere flying in the Zambia International Rally

The pinnacle of his recent achievements was managing the South African team, Johnny Gemmell, in the East African Classic Safari Rally, where they clinched victories in multiple stages, despite encountering mechanical setbacks that hindered a podium finish.

Challenges Faced by Kenyan Motorsport

Yusuf expressed concern over the declining state of motorsport in Kenya in recent years. A shortage of sponsorships has plagued the local scene, making it challenging for drivers to sustain their participation. However, he remains optimistic about the future, citing the pride Kenya holds in hosting the World Rally Championship event and the East African Classic Rally. Despite the hurdles, Kenyan drivers continue to compete globally, showcasing their prowess on international stages.

Hope for the Future

Despite the challenges, Yusuf believes there is hope on the horizon. With Kenya boasting some of the latest cars on the continent, there’s an expectation that the motorsport landscape will improve, drawing in more sponsors and reigniting the passion for rallying in the region.

In the world of rallying, Shameer “Ole Yusuf” Yusuf stands as a testament to resilience, dedication, and an unyielding love for the sport. As he continues his journey towards the 100-rally milestone, his story becomes an inspiration for aspiring co-drivers and a reminder that the spirit of motorsport in Kenya remains unbroken.

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