Will he rally again? Gakuu Kihurani's sabbatical sparks Safari uncertainty

Alex Kihurani (L)in action during the 2022 Safari Rally Kenya.©Imago

MOTORSPORTS Will he rally again? Gakuu Kihurani's sabbatical sparks Safari uncertainty

Festus Chuma 20:02 - 03.01.2024

American navigator with Kenyan roots takes a break from rally racing to focus on family amidst personal tragedies.

American navigator with Kenyan roots Alex Gakuu Kihurani has announced a temporary withdrawal from the racing world, casting doubt over his participation in the upcoming 2024 Safari Rally.

Gakuu, who served as Sean Johnston's co-driver in the WRC2 category at the 2022 WRC Safari Rally, is stepping away from the tracks for an initial period of three months.

This hiatus comes in the wake of losing his father, Gakuu Kihurani Sr., and his brother-in-law, Hinesh, in quick succession.

These losses, compounded by the need to navigate care for his family member with special needs, have led the 32-year-old to prioritize his family's needs over his professional commitments.

Speaking about his decision, Gakuu expressed, "I wanted to let everyone know that I’m taking a short sabbatical from rallying for the beginning of the 2024 season. It has been a really challenging second half of the year for my family. As many of you with families understand, we can only compete with the support of the family, and right now my family needs my undivided attention."

Gakuu's father, a rallying enthusiast who migrated to Pennsylvania, USA, in the late 1970s, instilled in him a passion for motorsport.

He introduced young Alex to the racing circuit in 1993, fostering a love for the sport that would shape his career.

The senior Kihurani's sudden demise in August 2023 during the Duryea Hillclimb and the tragic loss of Hinesh a month later have been profound blows to the family.

Amidst these personal challenges, Gakuu remains hopeful about his future in rally racing.

"The plan is to be back by March/April for the peak of the European rally season. That should give me enough time to create a new foundation for us as a family, and come back more focused and much stronger," he stated, hinting at a potential return to the sport he loves.

However, Gakuu has refrained from making any commitments regarding his participation in the 2024 Safari Rally, scheduled for 28-31 March 2024.

This uncertainty leaves his fans and the rally community in suspense about whether they will see this talented navigator back in action on one of rally racing's most iconic stages.

The Safari Rally, known for its challenging terrain and unpredictable weather conditions, has been a crucial part of Gakuu's rallying journey.

The coming months will be crucial for the navigator as he balances personal responsibilities with his professional aspirations. 

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