By Mwambazi Lawrence

As the world gears up for the much-anticipated 2024 World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally, motorsport enthusiasts are abuzz with excitement as the entry lists for this year’s event have been unveiled. Promising a thrilling showcase of talent from both local kenyan heroes and international titans, the Safari Rally is set to captivate audiences worldwide.

Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba with reigning Kenyan champion Karan Patel during the launch of KCB Safari rally sponsorship

Scheduled to take place from March 28 to 31 in Naivasha, this year’s Safari Rally marks a significant departure from recent seasons, shifting from its traditional June slot to a new March timeline. With its challenging gravel terrain and breathtaking landscapes, the Safari Rally has long been revered as one of the most iconic fixtures on the global motorsport calendar.

Last year, Toyota Gazoo Racing clinched victory at the event, courtesy of eight-time WRC champion Sébastien Ogier. However, fans will be eager to witness a new chapter unfold this year, as Ogier sits out the competition. Instead, all eyes will be on former champion Kalle Rovanperä, who will lead Toyota Gazoo Racing’s charge with his GR Yaris Rally1. Rovanperä will be joined by the talented Welshman Elfyn Evans and the podium-proven Takamoto Katsuta, promising a formidable lineup for the Japanese outfit.

Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi aims to carry forward his winning momentum following a sensational triumph in Sweden last month. Driving part-time for Hyundai Motorsport, Lappi will pilot the i20 N Rally1 alongside championship leader Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak, setting the stage for an intense battle on the rugged Kenyan terrain.

M-Sport Ford, too, is gearing up for the challenge with a trio of drivers, including Adrien Fourmaux fresh off his maiden podium in Sweden. Completing the British team’s lineup are Grégoire Munster and Jourdan Serderidis, adding further depth to the competition.

In the highly competitive WRC2 category, all eyes will be on local hero Carl Tundo as he seeks to add another title to his illustrious career, driving a Ford Fiesta. However, Tundo faces stiff competition from a formidable field including Oliver Solberg, Gus Greensmith, Nicolas Ciamin, and Kajetan Kajetanowicz, all vying for victory on the challenging Kenyan stages.

Adding to the excitement is the debut of FIA Junior WRC regular Diego Domínguez, who will make his WRC2 debut in a Citroën C3, injecting further intrigue into the competition.

Among the homegrown talents, Kenyan drivers Hamza Anwar, Andrew Muiruri, and Aakif Virani are poised to showcase their skills on the international stage, challenging for top honors against a field of seasoned veterans.

As anticipation builds for the 2024 WRC Safari Rally, all eyes are on Naivasha, where a thrilling spectacle of speed, skill, and determination awaits, promising fans an unforgettable motorsport extravaganza.

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