Malewa stage to provide true taste of Safari

By People Reporter
Tuesday, April 6th, 2021
WRC stage in Kedong, Naivasha. PD/ANWAR SIDI
In summary
    • The Safari Rally was first held from 27 May to 1 June 1953 as the East African Coronation Safari in Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika, as a celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of England. In 1960, it was renamed the East African Safari Rally and kept that name until 1974, when it became the Safari Rally.
    • Widely regarded as the world’s toughest rally, it was set to make a return to the World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2020 after an 18-year hiatus, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will instead return in the 2021 World Rally Championship.
    • The event was excluded from the WRC calendar due to a lack of finance and organisation in 2003 since which it  has been part of the African Rally Championship, organised by the FIA.
    • On 27 September 2019, The Safari Rally was re-admitted into the WRC championship calendar starting with the 2020 rally between 16 and 19 July, but was later postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, instead making its return in 2021.

Edwin Otieno

The 9.71km SS16 Malewa is set to offer teams a true taste of WRC Safari Rally adventure around the scenic Lake Naivasha region.

It will be raced on the last day on Sunday, June 27 with the first car going through at 10.52am.

Route Liaison-cum-Media Safety Officer Anwar Sidi has revealed that Malewa will be a test of skill and experience.

It is a rocky stage with a lot of 90-degree junctions across a hilly terrain. It is of a different character to the Friday and Saturday special stages.

Said Sidi: “The loose surface will make those drivers who are looking to preserve their tyres in the best conditions for the Power Stage think carefully about their driving lines. It is Safari.”

Hell’s Gate National Park will host the event’s last stage which is the power stage.

The 10.56km stage will be run twice as SS15/SS18 at 09.08am / 13.18hours respectively. 

But the second run (CS18) will be the designated Power Stage that will be aired live across the globe.

With perhaps the most scenic backdrop of any of the Power Stages on the World Rally Championship, Hell’s Gate is going to sign off Safari Rally on a high with the finish line of the final stage alongside the picturesque Fischer’s Tower.

The power stage will also showcase Kenya’s geothermal energy plant in Naivasha.

WRC Safari Rally Kenya event will take place in the Great Rift Valley, around Lake Naivasha and Elmenteita with the Service Park based at the KWS Training Institute, Naivasha, on the main Nairobi to Nakuru road.

Administrative checks will begin on Monday, June 21 in Naivasha and reconnaissance later that day at 11am. 

Reconnaissance will continue until Wednesday June 23 at lunchtime.

Shakedown takes place from 1pm on the same day within the Ndulele Conservancy showcasing a  breathtaking backdrop with spectacular spectator viewing areas.

This will be the first time a modern-day WRC Rally car will have set foot on African soil in 19 years.

Thursday, June 24 will be equally eventful where reconnaissance of the Kasarani Spectator Stage (SS1) will happen in WRC cars from 7.30am.

On the same day, Kenyatta International Convention Centre will at 11am host a press conference  that will be followed by the Ceremonial Start at 12.46pm.

At this particular juncture, the WRC Safari Rally will have returned to its more traditional start, in the heart of the capital city, Nairobi.

 After an absence of nearly two decades, WRC cars driven by the best in the world will begin their 2021 WRC Safari Rally campaign in earnest with a side by side race on the purpose built Super Special Stage (SSS) at Kasarani from 14.08hrs on Thursday June 24.