WRC Comeback of the Safari Rally: Jean Todt encourages Kenya
During a visit to Nairobi, FIA President Jean Todt assured the organisers of the safari rally that they would support them on their way back to the World Rally Championship.
The organisers of the safari rally have won a prominent supporter in their efforts to bring the classic back into the calendar of the World Rally Championship (WRC). FIA President Jean Todt was in Nairobi on Tuesday last week, where he opened a new office for the rally organizers and also met Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“I met with President Kenyatta today, who took me by my side and told me that he sees it as his job to bring the safari back to the WRC,”says Todt. The Kenyan government had already announced that it would provide around two million euros to ensure that the safari rally will be held as a World Cup round again.
On the occasion of his visit, Todt gave his support to the organisers, but also urged that the return to the WRC will not be a matter of course:”I am your friend, but you must deliver,” Todt says to the organisers,”I want a good safari to promote road safety in Africa.
For Todt, the visit to Kenya was also an emotional journey back in time, taking him back to the 1970s when he had repeatedly contested the safari rally as a rally co-driver,”The East African Safari was a yardstick in the world of motorsport. If you don’t come from there, you can’t win. The safari had this reputation in the rest of the world,”recalls Todt,”I know this because I’ve taken part eight times and never crossed the finish line except in 1973, when I finished third with Ove Andersson.”
Todt also signed a photo from this year that shows him and the later founder of Toyota Motosport GmbH in their Peugeot 504:”Being here in Nairobi today and opening the office of the Safari Rallye project is an emotional moment for me. There were a lot of things going through my mind when I saw this photo of me 27 years old.”
The safari rally was last held in 2002 as part of the World Rally Championship. Since 2010 it has only been a regional rally. A return to the WRC calendar is not planned before 2020.
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