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.

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 Motorsport.com 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 Motorsport.com.

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.

Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC with the team

Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC with the team

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

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

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

“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.”

Read Also:

shares
comments

Related video

Safari WRC: The Good, The Bad and a Dazzle of zebras

Previous article

Safari WRC: The Good, The Bad and a Dazzle of zebras

Next article

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

Vatanen to be reunited with WRC title-winning Ford after 40 years
Load comments
Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant? Prime

Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains Prime

How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Prime

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Prime

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021
Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit? Prime

Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit?

OPINION: The Ypres Rally featured a cameo from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its final stage, giving WRC teams the chance to experience its iconic corners in rallying machinery. It proved to be an engaging addition to the rally, and could perhaps serve as an example for other events to visit famous circuits

WRC
Aug 24, 2021
Home hero Neuville delivers overdue WRC success for Hyundai in Belgium Prime

Home hero Neuville delivers overdue WRC success for Hyundai in Belgium

With limited recent fortune and pressure starting to mount, Hyundai needed a big result at the Ypres Rally. All the key components came together in Belgium to see home hero Thierry Neuville lead a manufacturer 1-2 and kickstart its World Rally Championship challenge

WRC
Aug 16, 2021
The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree Prime

The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree

M-Sport has become the first to unveil its new-for-2022 hybrid World Rally Championship challenger, the Puma Rally1. Ford has upped its support in a bid for glory, but can the new machine roll back the years and return the Blue Oval to the top of the WRC tree?

WRC
Aug 12, 2021
The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies Prime

The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies

French drivers have dominated the World Rally Championship across the past two decades; Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier have racked up the titles in commanding fashion. With Ogier calling it a day on full-time WRC competition from next year, France will pin its long-term hopes on rookie Adrien Fourmaux, who looks to have a bright future.

WRC
Aug 7, 2021