- The Safari Rally racers have suffered a setback as the 2020 WRC Safari Rally Kenya has been officially called off, thanks to the novel COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, the Kenyan government has confirmed.
After weeks of close contact and several discussions, FIA, the WRC Promoter, and the Kenyan government have decided on the fate of the Safari Rally. The event in Kenya was set to make a surprise return after an 18-year hiatus.
The last round in Kenya, held in 2020, was won by Colin McRae and his co-driver Nicky Grist. Due to the travel restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the FIA, the WRC Promoter, and the Kenyan government have decided to call off the event for 2020.
“We are grateful to the (Safari Rally) Patron, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta, for his unwavering support and counsel as we deliberated on the next best steps,” said Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for sport, culture, and heritage.
“We also owe exceptional gratitude to the President of the FIA, Mr. Jean Todt, and the WRC Promoter led by Oliver Ciesla for their unyielding support since we commenced engagements to return the Safari Rally to the WRC circuit,” she added.
Although the event was canceled, Mohamed has confirmed that the cancellation of the event will not have any impact on next year’s round and the return of the event will be completed in 2021. The Kenya Rally organization has signed a three-year contract with the WRC Promoter. The contract would have seen the premier class of rally competition visit the country through at least 2022.
“We will continue to prepare for the event as groundworks are already in top gear and look forward to welcoming rally professionals, teams, and enthusiasts to Kenya when the event is re-convened next year,” she said.
“Postponing the event to 2021 was not a simple decision to make, however, we are cognizant of the present global challenges and assure that the Safari Rally will mark a significant part of our country’s history as was intended for the next three years,” she concluded.