Maxine Wahome crowned WRC3 Champion
Kenya’s youngster lady driver Maxine Wahome navigated by Murage Waigwa were crowned the winners in the WRC 3 category in the just concluded WRC Safari Rally held in Naivasha.
Maxine Wahome who was making her WRC3 debut in her new Ford Fiesta rally car clocked 5.20.21 hours to lead the all-Ford Fiesta Rally3 category which also saw her finish in the 16th position overall.
Commenting on her newfound accomplishment, she acknowledged Safaricom and Kenya Airways for the support extended to her as a run up to the World Rally Championship Event.
“I am very excited for finishing the rally which is among the toughest in the world. I am grateful to my team for supporting me through the preparations and the rally itself. I am also grateful to my sponsors for giving me the privilege of being the only female driver who competed and finished at this year’s WRC Safari Rally. “
Other WRC/FIA Rally Star Program drivers Jeremiah Wahome navigated by Victor Okundi and McRae Kimathi navigated by Mwangi Kioni in Ford Fiesta R3 finished 19th and 21st overall in a time of 5.45.49 and 5.55.59 respectively with Hamza Anwar retiring at the 18th stage due mechanical problem.
All the four drivers, who Safaricom and Kenya Airways sponsored, took part in the event as part of the FIA Rally Star Program, a global initiative that seeks to identify, train, and develop talented young drivers between 17-27 years.
Elsewhere, Kalle Rovanpera clocked 3.40.24 to become the youngest driver to win the Safari Rally after clinching victory in the sixth round of 2022 World Rally Championship in his Toyota GR Yaris. A similar Toyota GR Yaris of Elfyn Evans and Katsuta Takamoto was placed second and third overall after clocking 3.41.17 and 3.42.07 respectively.
Rally Enthusiast wins Rally Driver Experience at the Safari Rally
Rally enthusiast Sam Karangatha, won a once in a life time opportunity to ride in a Rally 1 car in Naivasha. He won the experience by playing and winning the Red Bull My Safari game, an online quick-Fire session where participants were required to answer as many correct answers as possible in the fastest time. To win the competition he answered all questions correctly in a span of 15 seconds.
Karangatha experienced this in a brand-new Ford Puma Rally1 at the 5.4km Ndulele Conservancy stretch in Loldia, Naivasha where he sat in the Co-driver’s seat with M-Sport Ford’s Adrien Fourmaux as the driver.
Reflecting on his experience riding in a rally car Sam said the opportunity gave him a firsthand experience on what he would like to do one day as an aspiring rally driver.
“I was so delighted when I got a call from Red Bull that I was the winner. I’m really happy to be here for the co-drive experience. As an upcoming rally driver, this was a dream come true, as I experienced the performance of the world’s best talent and machinery.”
The high-powered Rally1 hybrid cars have not competed anywhere else other than Europe. Kenya is the first location where the cars are racing for the first time outside Europe, at the sixth leg of the WRC series.
The high-profile hybrid cars are Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 by Toyota Gazoo Racing, Hyundai i20 N Rally1 by Hyundai Motorsports and the Ford Puma Rally1 by M-Sports Ford.
Reflecting on his navigator for the day Adrien Fourmaux said the ride was a good opportunity for the lucky fan to get a close insight on a real rally car drive.
“He was nice, he was enjoying the ride it was nice sharing the experience with him and I’m glad that he enjoyed every bit of the race.”
Rally Driver Fourmaux will be looking to make his make in this year’s Safari Rally. In 2020, he finished third in the WRC2 impressing the M- sports ford team and this effort impressed the M-Sports Ford team who rewarded him with a full seat in the WRC series in 2022.
Fourmaux is among the prolific international drivers who are looking for glory in the Safari Rally that revved-off at the KICC in Nairobi on Thursday and will traverse grueling terrains of Naivasha.