The President flagged off the first ten rally cars that included three Kenyan teams comprising Carl Tundo, Hamza Anwar and Mcrae Kimathi as well as 91-year old three times European champion Sobieslaw Zasada who becomes the oldest competitor in the history of World Rally Championship.
A car driven by State House Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita and his co-driver Tuta Mionki was also among those flagged off at the spectacular event in which 58 teams are participating.
Speaking at the iconic sporting event, President Kenyatta commended the event organizers and all stakeholders for their diligence and hard work that ensured the resumption of the safari rally after a 19-year hiatus.
The Head of State said the Safari Rally holds a special place in the country’s history, saying the event is synonymous with the country’s growth.
“Over the years, the rally maintained its ‘rough and tough’ reputation. It ensured that we tested both our physical limits on the roads, and our innovative strengths in the development of bigger and faster machines,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta emphasized that it was because of the Safari Rally’s importance to the country’s socio-economic growth that in 2013 he gave a pledge to return the rally back to the country and to its position as one of the International Automobile Federation’s (FIA) and World Rally Championship’s (WRC) toughest rallies.
“This goal has materialized nine years later, into the spectacular event that we are all witnessing today. It has been a pleasure, interacting with the rally drivers and I look forward to witnessing their expertise on the road,” President Kenyatta said.
The initiative, which has so far provided 6,300 helmets to boda boda riders, is aimed at promoting road safety through education and the provision of protective gear to the motorists.
The President said the initiative, which has also attracted international partners such as the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and the Hungarian Motorsport Development Agency (HUMDA), will raise awareness on the adverse impacts of road accidents with the aim of reducing the injuries on the Kenyan roads.
“I am pleased to note that, so far, through this initiative 1,000 young people have received road safety training. Many other young people from the Boda boda community are set to receive refresher riding skills and road use information,” President Kenyatta said.
He emphasized the need for citizens to always safeguard their personal safety while on the roads even as the Government fulfils its obligations in enhancing road safety.
“Let us be our brother’s keepers and promote safe road user behaviour,” he added.
Others who spoke included Sports, Culture and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, the President of the International Automobile Federation Jean Todt and the Hungary Minister for National Innovation and Technology Prof Laszlo Palkovics.
Dr Mohammed thanked President Kenyatta for “diligently pursuing the return of the Safari Rally in Kenya since 2013”.
“The Government under his leadership has provided financial, technical and administrative support towards the planning of the 2021 WRC safari Rally.”
Others who attended the colourful event included former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Head of Public Service Dr Joseph Kinyua among orher senior Government officials.
Later President Kenyatta joined motor sports enthusiasts at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani for the Super Special stage of the 2021 WRC Safari Rally.