For the second year in a row, Salvador Caetano treated its partners and customers to a VIP Safari Rally viewing party where we got to cheer for the Hyundai Motor Sport team. For those not in the know, Salvador Caetano are the franchise holders for Hyundai and KIA.
Salvador Caetano is a Portuguese multinational with a presence in 37 countries on three continents with its 7000-plus employees. With sales of more than 100,000 vehicles each year. Their current product offerings in the Kenyan market includes the Hyundai Palisade, Santa Fe, Tucson, Staria and electric vehicles such as the Kona and Ioniq5.
Other than the sale of new vehicles, Caetano has also launched a one-stop auto dealership hub, which aims to take the auto service experience to greater heights. The network of dealerships offers retail and distribution of new Hyundai vehicles, aftersales services such as a fully serviced workshop together with genuine spare parts, and a full valet service.
This year, Caetano also partnered with RentCo Africa an asset leasing company that offers flexible leasing options for all movable assets, including but not exhaustive to vehicles, machinery, equipment, and technology solutions. The company which is headquartered in Kenya also has a presence in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Malawi, Burundi, Zambia, Namibia among other countries.
We were also joined by Shell who are the official lubricant partners of the Hyundai Motorsport team. Shell has been working with the team since 2014 and has worked with Hyundai engineers to come up with the perfect lubricant that can be able to withstand the extreme temperatures that are found in the rally circuit that range from -30 degrees and rise as high as 50 degrees.
As usual our journey to Naivasha kicked off at 4.30 am which meant that we had to really wake up early so as to be on time. By daybreak, we were already in Naivasha which was good because the Police were at hand to close off some of the roads before the rally kicked off.
After going up a steep hill for about thirty minutes, we finally reached the Loldia Eburru camp grounds which was the site for the VIP viewing party. The place was exactly as I had left it last year with lush grounds, beautiful sceneries not forgetting the cold. Luckily this time around I was wiser and had come geared up for the cold weather. The good people at the camp welcomed us with some hot tea which served to warm as up as we waited for the action to start.
At exactly 8 AM, we heard a siren which indicated that the first sweeper car was enroute to ensure that everything on the track was okay. It was soon followed by the route opener which from what I heard was being driven by Ian Duncan one of the Kenyan rally legends.
At around 8.30 AM we heared a helicopter flying overhead and the loud roar of a rally car approaching. We all rushed to the spectator stage and a few seconds later, we saw the first car whizz past us in a blur, it was so fast that some of the people were not able to capture it on their cameras.
The second car which passed through was a Hyundai which was driven by Thierry Neuville, this elicited a cheer from the spectators as it zoomed past us. The others rally cars followed in quick succession much to the excitement of the crowd. There is just something about fast cars which keeps the crowds entertained. After the international drivers, had passed, next came the Kenyan drivers who put on a good show to the delight of the spectators.
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After the first lot had finished the Loldia stage, we retreated back to the main tent to catch the action from the other stages on the big screen. People also took this time to socialize and network as they enjoyed the scenery. In the afternoon, the cars made a second passing and lucky for us, one of the Ford cars stopped for a few seconds just in front of us and we got to see it up close.
It is safe to say that we really enjoyed this outing courtesy of Salvador Caetano and I am definitely looking to come back for more next year.