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Experts arrive, Safari hopeful, says Kimathi

TWO technical experts arrive in Kenya tomorrow (Tuesday) to work alongside local officials and assist the famous Safari Rally in its attempt for re-admission to the World Rally Championship calendar.

They are Finnish Jarmo Lehtinen, a veteran navigator with 15 WRC victories as co-driver to former Ford and Citroën star Mikko Hirvonen, and Briton Iain Campbell, a renowned rally clerk-of-course and managing director of the British Rally Championship.

Veteran rally navigator Jarmo Lehtinen of Finland and, below, renowned event’s clerk of the course Ian Campbell of Britain arrive in Kenya to work for the Safari Rally bid for admission to the World Rally Championship (WRC). Top: Finnish Tapio Laukkanen competes in one of the recent Kenya National Rally Championship events

Veteran rally navigator Jarmo Lehtinen of Finland and, below, renowned event’s clerk of the course Ian Campbell of Britain arrive in Kenya to work for the Safari Rally bid for admission to the World Rally Championship (WRC). Top: Finnish Tapio Laukkanen competes in one of the recent Kenya National Rally Championship events

They have been seconded to Kenya by the world motorsport governing body the Federation Internationale de l’automobile (FIA) and the commercial rights holder of the World Rally Championship, WRC Promoter.

The experts are set to start work with Kenyans to deliver a top-notch 2019 Safari Rally (July 5-7), already approved by FIA as a (trial) WRC Candidate Event.

On the floor of the Rift Valley around Naivasha, proposed theatre of operation for the 2019 Safari Rally, a WRC Candidate Event

On the floor of the Rift Valley around Naivasha, proposed theatre of operation for the 2019 Safari Rally, a WRC Candidate Event

Said Phineas Kimathi, the President of the Kenya Motor Sports Federation (KMSF) and chief executive officer of the WRC Safari Rally Project, the tool of campaigning for the Safari to be on the WRC calendar in 2020:

“Our visitors will review all our organisational framework and input expertise to bring Kenyan officials up to speed with all aspects regarding the running of a modern-day WRC.

“The event’s organising committee is in a tripartite agreement with the FIA President Jean Todt, WRC Promoter and the WRC Safari Rally Project.”

In addition, he said: “The two gentlemen are now part of the WRC Safari Rally Project to ensure Kenya fulfills its mandate of returning to the WRC in 2020.”

The FIA President Jean Todt (right) cuts ribbon, assisted by Peter Kaberia Kenya’s Principal Secretary Ministry of Sports, to launch the WRC Safari Rally Project headquarters at Moi International Sports Centre. Others are, from left, Kenya Motor Sports Federation (KMSF) board member Jaswant Singh Rai, Kenya Commercial Bank chief executive officer Joshua Oigara, KMSF official and FIA vice-president Surinder Thathi and KMSF President Phineas Kimathi

The FIA President Jean Todt (right) cuts ribbon, assisted by Peter Kaberia Kenya’s Principal Secretary Ministry of Sports, to launch the WRC Safari Rally Project headquarters at Moi International Sports Centre. Others are, from left, Kenya Motor Sports Federation (KMSF) board member Jaswant Singh Rai, Kenya Commercial Bank chief executive officer Joshua Oigara, KMSF official and FIA vice-president Surinder Thathi and KMSF President Phineas Kimathi

In preparation to coming to Kenya, Campbell, an avowed motorsport enthusiast who will be bring a wealth of experience from the British WRC Welsh Rally and the active British motorsport industry tweeted:

“This week heading to Nairobi to work with the Safari Rally organisers on the WRC Candidate event running in July this year. The plan is for this iconic event return to the WRC in 2020.”

He arrives on Wednesday morning while Lehtinen is expected on Tuesday evening.  The Finn played a key role within the Toyota Gazoo WRC team set-up since the Japanese manufacturer’s WRC return in 2017.   After competing and working with Toyota, Lehtinen has also been a consultant with the Rally Finland.

At the WRC Safari Rally Project headquarters in Nairobi's northern suburbs, FIA President Jean Todt (left) and KMSF President Phineas Kimathi

At the WRC Safari Rally Project headquarters in Nairobi’s northern suburbs, FIA President Jean Todt (left) and KMSF President Phineas Kimathi

The appointment of the two officials is pegged on their experience and role in the WRC blue chip events — GB Welsh Rally and Rally Finland — said Kimathi and in order for Kenya to deliver a world class event.

The experts will also inspect the draft itinerary in Naivasha area in the Rift Valley where this year’s Safari Rally clerk of the course, Gurvir Babra, has been working in three-member planning team for several months. The FIA-seconded officials will also tour Kajiado County in a tight schedule which concludes on Sunday evening.

On the weekend, the region hosted the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) Kajiado Rally this year’s Safari Rally prospective entrants took part. The event was won by multi-time KNRC winner Baldev Chager in a Mitsubishi Evolution X, with a runaway one minute 38 seconds from second – placed Manvir Baryan (Skoda Fabia).

Jasmeet Ravi in a Mitsubishi Evo10 contends with a zebra crossing the road at Lisa Stage in Konza during the weekend’s Kajiado Rally, a Kenya National Rally Championship event round won by past champion Baldev Chager also in a Mitsubish Evo 10

Jasmeet Ravi in a Mitsubishi Evolution X contends with a zebra crossing the road at Lisa Stage in Konza during the weekend’s Kajiado Rally, a Kenya National Rally Championship event round won by past champion Baldev Chager also in a Mitsubishi Evo 10

The Safari Rally lost the WRC status in 2002 but indications are clear that it stands a good chance to be back next year.

Kenya National Rally Championship:

(Kajiado Rally round, Sunday)

RESULTS:

  1. Baldev Chager Ravi Soin (Mitsubishi Evolution X) 90mins 44secs
  2. Manvir Baryan/Drew Sturrock (Skoda Fabia) 91.16
  3. Carl Tundo/Tim Jessop (Mitsubishi Evolution X) 91.44
  4. Izhar Mirza/Kavit Dave (Mitsubishi Evolution X) 99.51
  5. Tejveer Rai/Gavin Laurence (Mitsubishi Evolution X) 100.21
  6. Karan Patel/James Mwangi (Mitsubishi Evolution X)102.34
  7. Jasmeet Chana/Ravi Chana (Mitsubishi Evolution X) 103.46
  8. Sohanjeet Puee/Adnan Din (Subaru Impreza) 108.27
  9. Ammar Haq/Victor Okundi (Mitsubishi Evolution X) 110.43
  10. Jonathan Somen/Richard Hechle (Ford Escort MK2) 113.03
  11. Minesh Rathod/Shameer Yusuf (Mitsubishi Evolution X) 119.57
  12. Ramesh Vishram/Riyaz Ismail (Ford Escort MK2) 122.40
  13. Aslam Khan/Arshad Khan (Ford Escort MK1) 128.20
  14. Daren Miranda/Wayne Fernandes (Toyota Sprinter) 148.14
Baldev Chager (left) and Ravi Soni (right) at presentation following KNRC Kajiado Rally triumph on Sunday

Baldev Chager (left) and Ravi Soin (right) at presentation following KNRC Kajiado Rally triumph on Sunday

-Additional reporting from Correspondents, Media Dept WRC Safari Rally Project

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