Kenya to host WRC up to 2026
Kenya will continue hosting the World Rally Championship (WRC) for the next five years as per the sealed agreement with the International Automobile Federation (FIA).
President Uhuru Kenyatta said this Thursday at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre where he flagged off the second edition of the World Rally Championship.
He flagged off the first ten rally cars which included Kenyan teams comprising McRae Kimathi, Maxine Wahome, Jeremy Wahome, Hamza Anwar and the French megastars Sebastian Ogier and Sebastien Loeb who are gracing the iconic Kenyan fixture for the second time.
President Kenyatta, who is the patron of the rally, said the sport boosted the county’s economy by injecting Kshs 6 billion during the first edition last year.
“The historic nature of this rally is undeniable. Last year (2021), a record of 78 million people in 150 countries watched the rally. In addition, the rally was of great benefit to the country, injecting approximately Kshs 6 billion in our economy, with every sector sharing in the pie, including: players in the hospitality and transport sectors as well as micro, small and medium enterprises in Naivasha and its surrounding towns,” said the President.
This year’s event will be bigger and will attract more spectators across the globe, projecting Kenya as an attractive investment destination choice.
Safari Rally enjoys a special place in the country’s national heritage as it tells the story of its rich cultural tapestry, the warmth of its people and the diversity of its splendor.
“It is an iconic event tied to the history of our country, to the history of sports in Kenya and East Africa and to our determination to juxtapose the modern world with our natural beauty,” said the President.
This year’s Safari Rally is happening at the height of political campaigns in the country, and President Kenyatta said the event is a reminder to the nation that competition is not enmity and that all Kenyans should understand that they can compete against each other but accept the outcome with dignity and grace .
“Indeed, it underscores a key principle that we need to cherish; how we run the race is more important than the result since a ‘win by any means necessary’ runs contrary to our values,” he said.
Sports, Culture and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed thanked President Kenyatta for ensuring that the global event came back to Kenya after 19 years and that the President’s determination and commitment has born fruits that will see the country host the event uninterrupted for the next five years.
“Most importantly is the promise that you made to Kenyans since 2013 that you have kept, today there is absolutely no doubt in any one’s mind that that promise has not only been kept for the duration of your Presidency but your are keeping it until 2026,” said CS Amina.
President of the Federation International de I’Automobile, Mohammed bin Sulayem, expressed the need to encourage regional competitions for the sport to thrive.
“For the sport to continue to grow and to be accessible to more people the success of regional competitions is crucial and we are proud that the African rally championships is growing strong in providing a platform for not just drivers to developing new skill but also Engineers, mechanics, logistics people and requisite,” Sulayem said.
Other speakers at the event included KCB Chairman Andrew Wambare Kairu and Kenya Motor Sports Federation Chairman Phineas Kimathi.