The government has teamed up with four local crews to use the World Rally Championship Safari Rally to promote Kenya as a top tourism destination.
Through the Kenya Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, four local crews will compete under the brand name “Magical Kenya.”
While unveiling the partnership on Monday at Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the June 24-27 Safari Rally presents a good opportunity to sell Kenya as a leading tourism destination.
“The famous Safari Rally is an important opportunity to showcase what the destination has for both the domestic and international travelers. My Ministry is proud to have Safari Rally in my docket as the event has previously attracted lots of tourists, visitors and officials to Kenya as a result of its fame across the globe,” said Balala.
The crews which have provided their cars for the partnership are Baldev Chager/Ravi Soni (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10), Onkar Rai/Drew Sturrock (VW Polo), Tajveer Rai/Gareth Dawe (VW Polo) and Eric Bengi/Peter Mutuma (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10).
Kenya Tourism Board Chairman Jimi Kariuki thanked four crews for partnering with the board in the venture.
“I thank the owners of the rally cars for allowing their cars to be branded with the Tourism logo free of charge. The Safari Rally is a big name in the world of sports and brings people together,” said Kariuki.
Onkar and Bengi were present during Monday’s ceremony.
Multiple Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) winner Chager will bank on home advantage to win the World Rally Championship Safari Rally which revs off on June 24 to 27.
Onkar and his British co-driver Sturrock will also be seeking to make the case for local driving talent, having won the Nauru Rally on three different occasions. The Nakuru-based driver said he has learnt a lot in the last few years and was looking forward to a thrilling rally in Naivasha.
Tejveer and Gareth will bank on their commendable second place finish in the Equator Rally to inspire them to victory in the world famous Safari Rally.
Bengi said he was hoping to add his name to the list of the Safari Rally finishers. The former Group N and Division One champion will drive a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 10, navigated by Peter Mutuma.
The WRC Safari Rally will be held from June 24-27, and organizers are upbeat that the Kenyan round of the 2021 World Rally Championship will grip the imagination of the world like it did 19 years ago when it was rated the toughest and most entertaining of the circuit.
The Kenyatta International Convention Centre will host the ceremonial start, followed by a thrilling Spectator Special Stage (SSS) around the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
The cars will then tackle the ‘Shakedown” at Loldia in Naivasha where crews will be treated to breath-taking landscape.
The other special stages in Naivasha will be at Chui Lodge, Kedong, Oserian, Elementaita, Soysambu, Sleeping Warrior, Malewa and Hell’s Gate. These special stages average between 8.5 km to 33km long.
The Safari Rally will be televised live to an international audience. More than 850 million viewers are expected to follow the 14-round World Rally Championship, with a total of 13,452 broadcast hours projected through the event.