Safari Rally on WRC calendar until at least 2023

The Safari Rally will remain on the World Championship calendar until 2023 at least and possibly beyond following its successful return to rallying’s top tier after a 19-year hiatus.

Safari Rally on WRC calendar until at least 2023

The long-awaited return of one of rallying’s most iconic event’s proved a hit with drivers, teams and fans, as Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier triumphed in one of the WRC’s toughest and most spectacular events.

The WRC received a particularly warm reception from Kenyan locals as fans lined the streets and filled spectator areas to welcome the championship back after almost two decades away.

WRC has confirmed to Autosport that a multi-year agreement has already been signed to ensure its immediate future on the WRC schedule. The event was due to return last year before the COVID-19 forced its postponement to this year.

“The agreement that has been signed with the promoter is for a few years. The idea is to have them in the calendar for at least three years,” FIA Rally director Yves Matton told Autosport.

However, Kenya president Uhuru Kenyatta, who was on hand to start the event and present the trophies, declared on the podium that the event will remain on the WRC calendar until 2026 and that his government are already committing financial support for the next event.

“It gives me great pleasure, therefore, to announce, that we have agreed, with the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and the World Rally Championship (WRC), to continue hosting the Safari Rally in Kenya, every year until 2026,” said Kenyatta in several reports.

A deal until 2026 for the Safari Rally is yet to be confirmed by the WRC.

After seeking clarification on the president’s comments, the WRC maintained only its existing multi-year deal is in place currently.

Gus Greensmith, Stuart Loudon, M-Sport Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC

Gus Greensmith, Stuart Loudon, M-Sport Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC

Photo by: M-Sport

“Safari Rally Kenya proved the amazing success we all hoped, and expected, it would be,” a WRC Promoter spokesman told Autosport.

“The rally received an incredible welcome from the locals, whose enthusiasm and passion for the Safari has not diminished one bit in the 19 years the championship has been away.

“It has a fabled history in motorsport and provided an arduous challenge that the drivers took on with great gusto.

“We currently have an existing multi-year agreement in place with the Safari Rally and are already looking forward to returning in 2022.”

Rally winner Ogier had mixed feelings about the Safari Rally before the event, but speaking afterwards he was of firm belief the rally should be a permanent fixture on the calendar.

“Honestly I would say yes,” said Ogier, when asked whether the event should become a regular WRC rally.

“WRC needs diversity and I think it is nice and this weekend was definitely entertaining.

“I’m sure a lot of people enjoyed watching the action and for us it is something very different.

“Also when you see the enthusiasm of the local people that makes us very happy. I enjoyed the week a lot especially after a long time where we haven’t seen spectators for a while, it was unbelievable to see the amount of people on road sections.”

shares
comments

Related video

Vatanen to be reunited with WRC title-winning Ford after 40 years
Previous article

Vatanen to be reunited with WRC title-winning Ford after 40 years

Next article

Toyota president left “shaking” after Katsuta's breakthrough WRC podium

Toyota president left “shaking” after Katsuta's breakthrough WRC podium
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Plus

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022
How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders Plus

How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders

After runaway World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera made his first major mistake of the season, the chance to take advantage was wide open for the chasing pack. Several of his rivals faltered to grasp the opportunity, but Ott Tanak made no such mistake and demonstrated his class with a third win of the campaign

WRC
Aug 22, 2022
Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life Plus

Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life

Toyota locked out the top four places in the World Rally Championship's recent Safari Rally Kenya in a clear indication of its GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid's pace and durability. Autosport was recently given a tour of the new factory where its cars are designed, tested and built, and it reveals much about the commitment of the Japanese marque to continued WRC success

WRC
Aug 19, 2022
How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession Plus

How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession

Finland may have a small population, but it has long enjoyed rallying success. Now that the nation has a new star to cheer in the form of Kalle Rovanpera, interest in the discipline is surging once again

WRC
Aug 10, 2022
How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming Plus

How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming

Kalle Rovanpera and Toyota went into Rally Finland as overwhelming favourites but came away as runners-up to a resurgent Ott Tanak and Hyundai. While it may have dampened the homecoming party, it still moved the Finn closer to the ultimate World Rally Championship prize

WRC
Aug 8, 2022
Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home Plus

Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home

Hyundai is one of the World Rally Championship's big three, and has a brand-new travelling facility befitting of that status. The team invited Autosport for a behind-the-scenes look at its state-of-the-art HQ, which comes complete with all the bells and whistles you'd expect of a top Formula 1 outfit

WRC
Jul 27, 2022
How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped Plus

How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped

After trailing Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans for much of Rally Estonia's opening day, WRC points leader Kalle Rovanpera took advantage of a change in the weather and never looked back afterwards. Winning for a fifth time this year at the scene of his 2021 breakthrough, and with a breathtaking powerstage bonus for good measure, his advantage is already looking difficult to topple

WRC
Jul 18, 2022
How the WRC captures its stunning visuals Plus

How the WRC captures its stunning visuals

Whether it’s the mountains of Monte Carlo, the snow of Sweden or the Kenya Savannah, the World Rally Championship is able to beam some of motorsport’s most spectacular footage to television screens while operating in the harshest of environments. Autosport went behind the scenes to unearth the secrets that make this logistical challenge possible

WRC
Jul 7, 2022