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WRC event happy with preparations of the now postponed race

By Webster Nyandika
Thursday, July 9th, 2020
Officials of the WRC Safari Rally, led by CEO Phineas Kimathi (second right) and Event Director Jim Kahumbura (in shorts) during a tour of the Inland Container Depot in Naivasha at the weekend. Photo/PD/COURTESY

Despite the Safari Rally’s return to the World Rally Championships (WRC) having been postponed to next year, Kenyan organisers are leaving nothing to chance in their preparations for the iconic event.

WRC Safari Rally chief executive officer, Phineas Kimathi, says his secretariat is working on initial timelines that assume the rally was still running on its initial dates of July 16 to 19.

Kimathi last weekend led a high-powered WRC Safari Rally management team on update visits of the Service Park in Naivasha, along with Kenya Ports Authority’s Inland Container Depot.

The inspection team included Safari Rally Event Director Jim Kahumbura and Rose Wachuka, Chief of Staff and Policy Advisor in the Ministry of Sport who is also in the rally’s organising committee.

Also in the entourage were WRC Safari Rally officials Julius Kabiru (Head of Security), Kimathi Maingi (Member of the Organising Committee and also a Director at Kenya Railways) and Anthony Gatei (Service Park Manager).

“We are following the initial schedule that we had set out for this year’s Safari Rally, assuming everything needed to be ready for July 15,” Kimathi said.

“We had targeted to finish the Service Park by last week, but because of the Covid-19 situation, work slowed down a bit but even then, the contractor has done 75 per cent of the work already.

“We also visited the Inland Container Depot where containers for the rally will be received, and we witnessed the actual operations. We are happy with the state of affairs.”

Kimathi said the government has played a key role in making sure preparations for the WRC Safari Rally were in top gear.

“I would like to thank the government for demonstrating commitment, and I’d like to thank the Cabinet Secretary for Sports Hon. Amina Mohamed for her leadership and guidance to make sure we have all the necessary support,” he said.

Several rounds of the World Rally Championships were cancelled this year due to a global lockdown following coronavirus pandemic outbreak.

Just three rounds had been held in Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico before the virus struck and a re-worked 2020 calendar was announced recently with Rally Estonia making its debut after running as a WRC promotional event last year. Fresh dates for the 2021 WRC Safari Rally are to be released in due course.