The 2012 African Champion Essa Mohammed has pulled out of this year’s KCB Safari Rally which starts at KICC on Friday.
Sources close to the driver said Essa’s car had arrived in Nairobi but the driver hadn’t reported to the rally headquarters for reasons that could not be immediately established.
Essa had not recced with the rest of the foreign crews either on Tuesday or Wednesday, a clear indication he is out of the 800km event which will traverse Laikipia, Kiambu and Nairobi counties.
Essa’s absence is a major blow to his ARC aspiration considering that he is lying second in the continental arena with 98 points.
Ivory Coast champion Gary Chaynes leads the championship with 101 with Kenya’s Jassi Chatthe in third with 58.
In an interview, Ashok Bhalla, the vice chairman of the organising committee said Essa had withdrawn from the event, which counts towards the seventh and penultimate round of the FIA African Championship.
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Stanley Thuo, who was to drive a Kenya Racing Team Subaru pick-up navigated by Karanja Njuguna also pulled out of the event citing logistical problems.
This brings the number of competitors partaking the 62nd Safari Rally to 62.
FIA Stewards were at Galleria Shopping Mall yesterday to follow proceedings of the scrutineering session.
Former African Rally Champion in 1987 Alain Ambrosino of Ivory Coast and Willie Du Plessis of South Africa are the assigned FIA stewards.
FIA observer Muna Singh, a former two-time African champion missed his flight and was expected in the country today.
Galleria Mall was a beehive of activity yesterday as local drivers took their machines through scrutineering conducted by Musa Locho.
Locho said foreigners will be scrutineered today. Foreigners entered for the Safari are Gary Chaynes of Ivory coast, Jas Mangat, Ismail Ortega and Duncan Mubiru from Uganda. All local cars passed scrutineering yesterday.
“Basically, we are checking all safety components and whether the cars conform to the categories they are entered in,” said Locho.
Galleria are providing the parking lot for rally and official cars over and above meal vouchers for the media and officials.
Other co-sponsors are Yana Tyres, Avery Kenya, Securex, Iway Africa, ALS and ICEA Lion.
Asked what Kenya’s chances for regaining WRC are, Bhalla said they are using this year’s event to entice the World Governing Body, FIA.
“It has been very hard work this year. Organisation this year seems to be very good and the FIA team are amazed that the standards at scrutineering are impressive. Safari Rally has been badly organised in the past two editions and we are looking to regain the lost glory this year. WRC won’t come back overnight though. It’s not immediate. We have to canvass for it by organising a good event,” said Bhalla.
Meanwhile, all cars will be required to report at KICC parc farme on Friday at 7.00am.
The country’s landmark building (KICC) will only serve as the start point on September 12 with Nanyuki designated as the finish on September 14, thus giving the drivers something different to sample in not only a picturesque setting but a tourist destination.
All spectators will be confined to Batian view and will be restricted to gain access to the closed-road, private farm stages.
As part of the strategy to regain the World Rally Championships (WRC) status, KMSF is deviating from open public road stages to the serene private farm closed roads where safety is guaranteed.
Cars will romp off at the KICC on Friday and will tackle 25 km of transport section through Migaa farm where they will do a 7.5 km stage.
Courtesy of standardmedia.co.ke