Organisers of the 2024 WRC Safari Rally announced they are moving the event from June to the end of March to make it a “more successful and memorable experience.”
Since the return of the Safari Rally to the World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar in 2021, the event has been held in June. The new dates are March 28-31.
Rally director Jim Kahumbura believes the changes allow more spectators to attend the event.
“The calendar has changed slightly after we requested the FIA promoter to return the Safari Rally to the Easter weekend as it used to be previously and the schools will be closed during these dates, so we expect a huge turnout, Kahumbura said during an interview on Monday.
“Remember, the Safari Rally is the most watched event on the WRC calendar and everyone will want to witness the occasion. The Monday after the conclusion of the rally will be a public holiday, so this year’s event is very unique.”
Kahumbura also announced that this year’s event starts at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) in Nairobi’s central business district. Last year’s flag-off took place at Uhuru Park to accommodate more spectators.
“The 71st edition of the WRC Safari returns to its traditional Easter holiday dates and it will be a nostalgic gesture to start the event at KICC which has served as the home of the iconic fixture over the years,” Kahumbura said.
Elsewhere, the rally’s Sleeping Warrior stage is now further ahead while the Kedong stage, widely acknowledged as the toughest stage of the rally, will be run in reverse direction. The rally finishes at Hell’s Gate in Naivasha this year to avoid causing massive traffic delays.
Despite the changes, Kahumbura noted that the itinerary of this year’s event will be more similar to those of the 2021 and 2022 editions.
“We have been working behind the scenes for the last three months and we are ready to go.”
He also expects the rally to pump foreign exchange revenue into the Kenyan economy and boost growth in key sectors of the local economy.
“Foreign drivers will come in 10 days before the rally and after the rally, they have already planned to visit Maasai Mara (National Reserve) and Diani (beach). Remember each team comes with a crew of at least 100 persons. Since three manufacturer teams are coming, more than 300 rally personnel will be around… not to mention foreign journalists and rally enthusiasts.”
The Safari Rally is the third round of the 2024 World Rally Championships after this month’s Rally Monte-Carlo (January 25-28) and Rally Sweden (February 15-18).