KAMPALA-No less than four Ugandan drivers; Alwi Hassan, Yasin Nasser, Duncan ‘Kinkakane’ Mubiru and Christakis Fitidis were looking to punch their weight in the World Rally Championship (WRC)-sanctioed Kenya Safari Rally earlier scheduled for July 16-19.
But they have to hold ajar their cockpit doors a little longer after officials from Kenya and the International Automobile Federation (FIA) agreed to postpone the event that was making a return onto the WRC calendar for the first time since 2002 owing to fears over the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both parties are expected to agree on the new dates for the Kenyan round of the WRC tomorrow.
Launched in May, 1953, as the Coronation Rally to celebrate Britain’s Queen Elizabeth’s ascent to the throne, the competition is making a comeback to the WRC calendar after 18 years out of the global picture.
Kenya Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed on Thursday said she, along with her Principal Secretary Joe Okudo, held a teleconference on Wednesday with FIA President Jean Todt, the FIA Promoter (who handles FIA’s commercial issues) and Safari Rally chief executive officer Phineas Kimathi with all the parties agreeing on a postponement. “On Monday, a decision will be made on how long the postponement will be, because it’s important for people to have certainty,” Amina disclosed.
“It is clear that at the moment, people don’t want to travel immediately (after Covid-19 is arrested),” the CS briefed Nation Sport Thursday.
The Covid-19 pandemic has mutilated the 2020 WRC calendar with so far only three rallies in the 14-round championship having been run, in Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico.
And even then, the Mexico round was hurriedly dispensed with as as the pandemic reared its ugly head.
But the officials of the New Zealand round of the WRC series (in Auckland from September 3 to 6) were Thursday soldiering on with their preparations hoping for normalcy to have resumed by then.
The Kiwis are embracing the WRC for the first time since 2012 and have been offered hope by the government’s successful virus fight.
The hugely successful southern hemisphere fight against the pandemic has seen New Zealand, with a population of five million people, report 1,200 positive Covid-19 cases with just one death by Thursday, while neighbours Australia, with a population of 25 million, have detected 6,000 infections and 50 deaths. The success has been attributed to strict adherence of the anti-Coronavirus measures with social distancing being enforced by police in the two countries.
Equally robust measures by the Kenyan government have so far (as at Thursday’s official brief) detected 184 Covid-19 positive cases.
SAFARI RALLY HOPEFULS
Uganda Drivers Expected To Race
1. Duncan ‘Kinkakane’ Mubiru
2. Christakis Fitidis
3. Yasin Nasser
4. Alwi Hassan