KICC, Hells Gate in focus for 2024 WRC Safari Rally

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MOTORSPORTS KICC, Hells Gate in focus for 2024 WRC Safari Rally

Festus Chuma 12:00 - 18.01.2024

2024 WRC Safari Rally announces a fresh start and finish promising excitement with changes to its traditional itinerary.

The 2024 World Rally Championship Safari Rally is gearing up to deliver an unforgettable experience for motorsport enthusiasts worldwide.

Organizers have announced a series of exciting changes to this year's event, culminating in the prestigious prize-giving ceremony taking place at the iconic Hell's Gate in Naivasha.

This highly anticipated Kenyan rally event, which serves as the third leg of the WRC, is set to rev-off on March 28 at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), marking a significant departure from last year's starting location at Uhuru Park.

Event Director Jim Kahumbura shared insights into the exciting developments, stating that more than 50 cars will be flagged off at KICC.

"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 historic fixture over the years," Kahumbura explained as per Capital Sports.

Last year's Safari rally was flagged off at Uhuru Park in an attempt to accommodate larger crowds of spectators.

"The cars will be flagged off from KICC on March 28 before heading to Kasarani Stadium for the Super Special Stage (SSS), which will mark the first speed test of the event. We expect more crowds to throng the Kasarani SSS venue, given that it will be a free Easter weekend for the fans," he added.

Kahumbura further emphasized that this year's itinerary is largely similar to the successful setups used in 2021 and 2022, after which the starting point was moved to Uhuru Park in 2023. 

In an effort to manage traffic congestion in Naivasha, the Event Director announced that the Safari rally program will conclude at the Hell's Gate Power Stage. 

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In previous years, Hell's Gate coincided with the WRC TV live program, where podium finishers were awarded after the Power Stage, and the prize-giving ceremony took place at the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute (KWSTI) in Naivasha.

"We don't want a repeat of a scenario where rally cars return back to the service park area for prize giving. This year, everything will culminate at Hell's Gate, and this is a deliberate move to manage the chaotic traffic situation that has been witnessed in Naivasha since the return of WRC status,' he explained.

Regarding the competitive stages, Kahumbura noted that the organization has made changes to the Sleeping Warrior stage by moving its flying finish further ahead.

Additionally, the Kedong stage will be run in the reverse direction, adding an extra layer of challenge for the drivers.

Kahumbura made these announcements during the Sports Ministry's stakeholder breakfast held in Nairobi, further adding, "Apart from minor changes made to the Sleeping Warrior and Kedong speed tests, the rest of the competitive runs will remain intact. The Wildlife Institute will still continue hosting Rally HQ and Service Park."

Kedong has gained a reputation among world rally teams as the toughest stage of the Safari Rally due to its notorious soft volcanic ash soil terrain, known locally as "fesh fesh," which has redefined the toughness of this fabled Kenyan round since its return to the global arena.

The Safari Rally is the third round of the 2024 World Rally Championships, following this month's Rallye Monte (January 25-28) and Rally Sweden (15-18 February).