The 63rd KCB Safari Rally dubbed â€œBringing Rally to the Peopleâ€ is set to kick off and the interesting facet is that it has reverted back to its former identity that elicited immense excitement amongst its followers, on the Easter weekend. Whatâ€™s more, the event has made a sharp about-turn as after being identified as sprint event in the recent years, itâ€™s now more of an endurance run-a rally akin to that of the 70â€™s when drivers tackled lengthy route courses.
This yearâ€™s event is not any different from the long distance aspect as crews have the enviable task of covering a mind-boggling 1000 Kilometres in an event that will traverse five counties including Nairobi, Kiambu, Laikipia, Meru and Machakos. With the impending battle of man and machine, there has been an introduction of several road side services ostensibly because the mileage is bigger.
The rally in which Meru Forest will be in use will have Loldaiga as the longest stage at 54.77 kilometres while Meru ASK showground will be the shortest at 2.7 kilometres. There will be five spectator stages of which three (Ngare Ndare, Lisa Ranch and Nkunga) will be park and walk alongside Meru ASK Showground and another at Machakos Peopleâ€™s Park which are expected to attract crowds in their hordes
At the Meru ASK Showground spectators will be privileged to enjoy the KCB Cashless village where different games and food will be on offer and fans will be using alternative channels to pay for the games in the village. As Mount Kenya region which is rich in flora and fauna prepares to host what is easily the toughest event in the Kenya National Rally Championships (KNRC) calendar, the Safari Rally will play a significant role in promoting sports tourism.
The rally will be flagged off at traditional landmark Kenyatta International Conference Centre on Easter Friday 3rd April 2015 where the first driver will roll off the ramp at the KICC at 9.00 a.m. Crews will be covering a mammoth cumulative total of 1042.66 kilometres. From the total mileage, 364 kilometres will be competitive while 678 kilometres will be liaison distance. With drivers rubbing their hands with glee ahead of the rally, former British and Finn champion Tapio Lukunnen is certainly one of those to watch.
Laukkanen leads the KNRC series and is expected to bring a touch of class albeit with stiff challenge from Safari Rally defending champion Baldev Chager, Ian Duncan, Rajbir Rai and four-times champion Carl Tundo. Chager has two Safari titles under his belt, which is three shy of the ones collected by legendary Shekhar Mehta, but clinching the third one is not too much to ask given his alluring form lately.
It will also be interesting to observe whatâ€™s up the sleeves of Duncan who will be unveiling a new car, a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 10. A protracted battle looms in other categories including 2WD, S Class, SPV, Division 1, 2 and 3. Further afield, there is a blood rivalry among the family of Frank Tundo and his children Carl and Tash.
The older Tundo has seen rally technology morph through different guises and is tipped to give the young turks a run for their money. There is also a sibling partnership between Khan brothers Aslam and Arshad who have a combined cockpit age of over 110 years. The prize giving will be held at the Meru ASK showground on 5th March 2015.