WRC announces dates for 2023 championships
Safari Rally Kenya has been confirmed as the seventh round in the 2023 World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar released by the Federation Internationale de ‘I Automobile (FIA) World Motor Sport Council yesterday.
The 2023 Safari will be held on June 22-25, and the event’s CEO Phineas Kimathi confirmed that the Safari will be centered around Nairobi and Naivasha just like this year.
Running from January to November, the 2023 WRC calendar features a number of regular stops, along with the return of Mexico and Chile for the first time since Covid-19.
An all-new three-country concept and the return to North and South America, are the major highlights of the 13-rounds Championship in Africa, Europe, Asia, North and South America.
Austria, Czech Republic and Germany will host the Central European Rally from 26 - 29 October. The asphalt rally will be based out of the south-east German city of Passau.
“This is a seal of approval for the Safari once again,” said Kimathi.
“I wish to thank the government for its unwavering support since 2017 when we mooted the project of reclaiming WRC status and eventaully making the Safari as one of the premier round of the World Rally Championship in the world and Africa.
“Our sporting team will continue to work with the government and sponsors, notably KCB Bank, Kenya Airways and Toyota Kenya, in ensuring that the Safari continues to get a mark of approval since it rejoined the championship for the first time in 19 years in 2021.”
FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem said in FIA website: “The fact that the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship will visit five distinct regions is a positive step towards engaging more people in motor sport, either as competitors, volunteers, officials or fans.
”By returning to North and South America in addition to rallies in Africa, Asia and Europe, the WRC is embracing a more global calendar, which has always been the intention of the FIA. I am looking forward to the WRC’s second season of the hybrid-based Rally1 era.”
Added FIA Rally Director Andrew Wheatley: “It’s fundamental for a world championship to reflect the global nature of motor sport and I wish to extend our appreciation to the ASNs, organisers and WRC.”
The championship’s commercial rights holder, WRC Promoter Senior Director of Events, Simon Larkin added in a statement from Munich, Germany: “We were absolutely determined to get the WRC calendar back to where it was pre-Covid, with a good spread of events inside and outside Europe.
“There was very high demand for the limited number of slots on the calendar, but we’re pleased with the range and variety of events we have.
“They will provide a great sporting challenge for the competitors, as well as providing the highest-profile events in each country.”
His thoughts were echoed by WRC Promoter Managing Director Jona Siebel. “We are incredibly happy to be returning to North and South America,” said Siebel.
“We have maintained a dialogue with the Mexican and Chilean organisers throughout the Covid pandemic and we are confident this is now the right time for our return.
Beginning with the traditional season opener in Monte-Carlo from 19 - 22 January, the snow and ice of Sweden (9 - 12 February) await drivers for the second stop as the championship returns to Umeå following a successful debut of the new-look winter rally in 2022.