NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya’s Safari Rally’s bid to get reinstated to
the World Rally Championships got a major boost on Thursday
after the government signed an agreement with global rally
governing body FIA.
FIA President Jean
Todt, who visited the country in February, said the long wait is
over and Safari Rally will now become a candidate event for the
13-leg World Rally Championship (WRC) starting in 2019. Should
Kenya impress, then it will be reinstated as one of the 13
rounds of WRC starting in 2020.
Rally becomes official WRC candidate event,” Todt said in a
statement from Paris Thursday.
“We have signed an
agreement between the Government of Kenya the Official WRC
promoter today in Paris at the Automobile Club de France. I hope
that will encourage the development of motor sport and Road
Safety in Africa,” he added.
In March, Oliver
Ciesla, the Managing Director and Promoter of the WRC had
expressed his satisfaction with the organization of the rally,
the premier motorsport event in Africa and said they will
consider its commercial viability before placing it as a
candidate event for WRC in 2019.
“We will share what
we have observed here with other stakeholders including the FIA
and car manufacturers. We will then discuss with them the
commercial viability so as to enable us to organize the rally as
a candidate event,” Ciesla said then in Nairobi.
The chairman of the
Safari Rally Organizing Committee Phineas Kimathi however,
remained optimistic, Kenya will clear the remaining hurdles and
be granted a slot in the 13-tier WRC, which currently has not
leg in Africa. The event has always been held as part of the
African Rally Championship.
“We have government
support and have incorporated the safety detains required by FIA
president Jean Todt. We have now to wait and see what next ahead
of 2019,” Kimathi said.
Rally, which was part of the WRC, was dropped in 2002 but it
still stands out as the one of the toughest rallies in the
Kenya’s Safari rally
will however, still face stiff challenge from Sweden and Canada,
who are also eyeing to have their events added to the WRC.
Early this year,
Ciesla said they were mooting at adding a second snow rally to
the World Rally Championship.
The WRC last ran two
snow events in 2007, when Rally Sweden was on consecutive
weekends with Rally Norway.
Canada has expressed
an interest in hosting a winter rally, but admitted it’s at
least five years away.