Safari Rally is on the verge of regaining its lost world status after the prestigious event secured the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship candidacy.
FIA President Jean Todt confirmed the deal in a tweet earlier on Thursday in Paris.
The Paris meeting was attended by the WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesler, Sports Ministry Principal Secretary Karimi Kaberia, and CEO of the WRC Project Phineas Kimathi who is also the President of Kenya Motor Sports Federation.
In his tweet, Todt who officially opened the WRC Project facility at Kasarani said: “Safari Rally becomes official WRC FIA candidate event; signing off the agreement between government of Kenya and WRC Promoter today in Paris at the Automobile & Club De France.”
Todt who participated in the Safari before heading the Ferrari Formula 1 team further stated: “I hope I will encourage the development of motorsports and road safety in Africa.”
Kaberia on behalf of the government he said: “This signing is a major milestone and a day we have looked forward to for a very long time. Arriving at this point is a great pleasure.“
“Our government is very committed to the Safari rally, and we will do everything in our power to make sure this great event is brought back to WRC,” he said.
Safari Rally was first held in 1953 as a coronation rally for Queen Elizabeth and gained WRC status in 1973 the same year Shekhar Mehta won it. But the event lost its global status in 2003 and relegated to FIA African Rally
Championship ARC status when Kenya failed to meet the necessary guarantees
of the the World Governing Body, FIA.
Since then the government and the KMSF have been working tirelessly to regain the status.
“It has long been a key part of the calendar development strategy to take the WRC back to Africa and fulfil the dreams of our fans to restore this mythical event,” said Oliver Ciesla.
“This agreement reflects our determination to restore a legendary rally to the championship and reinstate Africa to the top table of world rallying after an absence of more than a decade,” he added.