Now that was a Safari of a Rally!
Raise your mouse and toast to KCB and Kenya Motor Sports for a well-organised Safari Rally. Now replace your mouse and read on.
The just concluded 3-day KCB Safari Rally shows how good Kenyans are at hosting a world-class event. And for local aces Azar Anwar and George Mwangi to hit the finishing ramp first, that was the perfect medallion needed on the organisers' necks. From Friday's thrilling 1.5km spectator stage at Uhuru Park, Saturday's pursuits in the Rift Valley and Sunday's dusty affair in Kao-land, the Safari Rally was bursting with nothing but the excitement of the world's greatest rally.
On Friday afternoon, you could have thought there was a political rally not Safari Rally at Uhuru Park. Only the well marked-out course gave away the fact that the thousands of Kenyans who were sitted on the terraced park and not taking boat rides were here for an adrenalin-oozing event. Every hand-brake corner, car spin, barrier cross and tyre-burning skid stop was met with wild cheers reminiscent of 2002 Rainbow Rallies.
Despite a dampening Saturday start with Uganda's Riyaz Kurji surviving a fatal crash in the Kinungi Section, the rest of the day was filled with fast-paced action as those who jammed the shores of Lake Elementaita witnessed. Car left clouds of salty dust that scared pelicans and flamingoes, but not spectators.
Sunday's spectator section at the traditional Stoni Athi had Kenyans hanging on trees, cliffs and any available space to get a glimpse of the action. And the drivers never let the fans down. Led by over-night leaders Azar Anwar and George Mwangi, the rally drivers displayed their mad driving skills, not honouring basic rules like slow down at jumps, sharp corners or rough surfaces. Noises of turbo-powered engines, punctuated with wild cheers from the crowd filled the hot and dusty air. As a dust-covered spectator cum neighbour took a shower Sunday evening, I could hear her making Impreza and Evo noises. Clearly, she'd enjoyed the Safari Rally.
Thanks to KCB, Kenya Motor Sports and all other sponsors for keeping the Safari Rally's spirit alive. Congrats to Azar Anwar, George Mwangi and all other 25 drivers and their navigators who made it to the KICC podium.
WRC, Kenya and the Safari Rally are ready to get back on your calendar. Are you?