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WRC Rally Kenya

Loubet faced "biggest responsibility" driving Kenyan president at WRC Safari Rally

M-Sport Ford diver Pierre-Louis Loubet says he had the “biggest responsibility” on his hands when giving the Kenyan president William Ruto a taste of the World Rally Championship.

William Ruto, Kenya president, Pierre-Louis Loubet, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Kenya's new president made the visit to Safari Rally Kenya on Wednesday, where he joined Loubet in the co-driver seat of his M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 for a ride through the event's shakedown stage.

It was Ruto's first experience of the WRC which has a long-standing relationship with the country through the Safari Rally, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary event this year.

Loubet admitted carrying the nation's leader through a rally stage was nerve-wracking but the Frenchman was able to deliver a true taste of the WRC to Kenya's head of state.

"It was a very nice moment and it was not stressful at the beginning but when the security guard came to see me he told me I had to drive at 50kph," said Loubet. "I said maybe he would not want to do that so I drove fast out so I felt a bit of responsibility.

"When the security told me to not go fast and we went fast I knew I had the biggest responsibility. It was a bit stressful but it was fine."

Ruto was left stunned by the ride, stating: "I don't know what to say, that thing is crazy. Absolute madness - but it is an experience you cannot forget.

"The sheer speed, you can hardly see the road, you can hardly see the bend. These guys are really professional, it's a life-changing adventure."

Pierre-Louis Loubet, Nicolas Gilsoul, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Pierre-Louis Loubet, Nicolas Gilsoul, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Since the inaugural Safari Rally in 1953, rallying remains one of the nation's most popular sporting disciplines with the event one of the country's biggest, attracting thousands of fans while injecting £40 million to the economy.

The rally has a contract in place with the WRC until 2026.

"It is not just about the rally car, it is not just about the drivers, it is not just about the support teams – it is a whole of Kenya event. The carnival, the excitement, the celebration - it is just that captivating," Ruto added.

"Millions of Kenyans are engrossed in this. We will have great difficulty on Thursday and Friday to keep everybody at work.

"Those who have reasons will look for those reasons, those who don't have reasons will look for excuses. I will be working tomorrow, unfortunately for me," he joked.

The rally begins on Thursday with a super special stage in Nairobi.

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