WHAT IS WRC?
WRC STANDS FOR World Rally Championship. It is an international competition of the highest level in the motorsport industry. Before buying a car, one has to do a test drive. For the rally drivers, WRC is the place to test the power of their machines; would it go faster than the rest? Would the vehicle hold intact despite the terrain, or would it get stuck? In WRC, finding the most competitive driver, co-driver, motor vehicle manufacturer, and best team is the goal.
At the start of the race, those competing know how tough it can get. Besides the challenging terrains and mechanical damages, irregular weather patterns, collisions, or injuries might take them off the race. But still, they race. If not this rally, then the next.
The History of World Rally Championship.
World Rally Championship officially began on 19th January 1973. In 1979, they started awarding winners. Björn Waldegård from Sweden was the first to hold the WRC winning title as a rally driver while racing in a Fiat car.
How Long Does WRC Last?
The WRC race lasts for several rallies in one year, each rally held from Friday to Sunday.
Thursday night is when the rally cars officially take off, in the presence of fans in a stadium or through the streets of a town.
Where Is The World Rally Championship Held?
The WRC gets hosted by countries in different parts of the world.
In the 2022 WRC calendar, there are 13 rallies in countries on four continents: Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania.
2022 WRC Calendar
|Rally Name||Host Country||Dates|
|1||Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo||Monaco||20th – 23rd January|
|2||Rally Sweden||Sweden||24th – 27th February|
|3||Croatia Rally||Croatia||21st – 24th April|
|4||Rally de Portugal||Portugal||19th – 22nd May|
|5||Rally Italia Sardegna||Italy||2nd – 5th June|
|6||Safari Rally Kenya||Kenya||23rd – 26th June|
|7||Rally Estonia||Estonia||14th – 17th July|
|8||Rally Finland||Finland||4th – 7th August|
|9||Ypres Rally Belgium||Belgium||18th – 21st August|
|10||Acropolis Rally Greece||Greece||8th – 11th September|
|11||Rally New Zealand||New Zealand||29th September – 2nd October|
|12||Rally de España||Spain||20th – 23rd October|
|13||Rally Japan||Japan||10th – 13th November|
Safari Rally Kenya is complete. Currently, WRC’s host is Estonia, home of 2019’s World Rally Champion Ott Tänak.
How Is The Winner of WRC selected?
The drivers, co-drivers, motor vehicle manufacturers, and teams participate in the Championship. They compete at all stages of the race, one at a time, for the fastest time possible.
Categories In The World Rally Championship:
|WRC||The highest level for manufacturers and elite drivers of Rally1 cars.|
|WRC-2||Second level for ranking Rally2 cars.|
|WRC-2 Junior||An entry-level championship, open to drivers and co-drivers under 30 years.|
|WRC-2 Masters||A championship open to drivers and co-drivers over 50 years.|
|WRC-3||For independent drivers racing with Rally3 cars.|
The competitors are awarded points according to their performance levels. Whoever scores the highest after the Rally year wins the World Rally Championship title.
You can find here how to join WRC Safari Rally and win the competition.
SAFARI RALLY KENYA.
2022 has been the second consecutive year for WRC to taste the soil of Kenya, Africa, after a long while. Before this, the Safari Rally went through all the East African countries: Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Return of Safari Rally Kenya.
|Year||Name of The Rally|
|1953||East African Coronation Safari|
|1960||East African Safari Rally|
|1974||Safari Rally Kenya|
After 18 years of not hosting WRC, since 2002, President Uhuru Kenyatta was able to secure the comeback of the Safari Rally Kenya.
After the pandemic, 2021 was going to be the year. Kenyans were not going to let this chance go. And the rally drivers did not disappoint.
Frenchman Sébastien Ogier finished first place in Safari Rally Kenya 2021. And after 12 rallies that year, he was the WRC Champion. (Sébastien Ogier has been winning from 2013 to 2021, except in 2019 when he finished 3rd. He is an eight-time World Rally Championship winner.) This year also, Japanese rally driver, Takamoto Katsuta, was delighted to achieve his first-ever WRC podium win in Kenya after finishing second place.
WRC in Naivasha, Kenya 2022.
The return of WRC in Kenya has been a great booster to the economy, including the tourism sector, especially after the fallout experienced worldwide due to the 2020 pandemic.
With this comeback, Kenya can showcase one of its Natural Landmarks, in Nakuru County, in a town called Naivasha.
Hell’s Gate National Park.
Located between Lake Naivasha (famous for its flamingos) and the volcanoes of Suswa and Longonot, Hell’s Gate National Park covers 68.25 square kilometres of The Great Rift Valley.
Famous for attracting tourists and natives to its gate, Hell’s Gate is also home to Kenya’s geothermal power.
Though established in 1984, it got its name in 1883 from British explorer Joseph Thomson and German explorer Gustav Fischer.
Travelling from Nairobi to Naivasha is an experience complete by itself. In between is the “ViewPoint”. Certain spots will allow you to have a better view of the escarpments, lakes, rivers, mountains and plains of the Great Rift Valley, where you can pause to take your best photos.
The best thing about this National Park, apart from all other parks in Kenya, is you can walk, hike, or ride a bike past the wildlife, safely saying hi to them. You get a glimpse of how the Maasai people in Kenya live in the wild while protecting their livestock from becoming victims of their prey.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN SAFARI RALLY KENYA.
1) The Powerful Race Machines + Exceptional Drivers
The Rally1, Rally2, and Rally3 cars are not the vehicles we drive on tarmac roads. Not just machines, but super-machines.
Every car has got to ‘stay in its lane,’ any rally driver would say.
Each race car has only room for two: the driver and the co-driver. Their first goal is to get a race car modified to go fast on terrible roads. Then, how to manoeuvre the tracks will be up to their skills.
The driver takes the wheel. The work of a co-driver is to navigate using written instructions, like when to take corners ahead or avoid obstacles. At the end of the race, the best team wins.
2) View of Nature
As the drivers covered a distance of 363.44 km in Safari Rally Kenya 2022, every screen showing this live event also captured the captivating surroundings.
Hell’s Gate National Park was a perfect choice to hold the race.
It is known for its beautiful gorges, towering rocky cliffs, greenery, hot water springs, geysers, and large numbers of wildlife like baboons, zebras, gazelles, giraffes, species of birds, and many others.
3) Excited Crowd
The excitement of the safari rally in Kenya (the only African country on the 2022 WRC calendar) draws in crowds to the Park – Kenyans and citizens from neighbouring countries like Uganda and Tanzania.
Some people stood near the marked path, while others were on the roofs of their cars. They all came for their once-in-a-lifetime experience. They came in early to join the action: action from the cars, choppers, people, or anything that could make them shout at the top of their lungs.
It just took a few people to spot a trail of dust and then alert the rest of the crowd. The cheers would begin, followed by more whistles and sounds of vuvuzelas as the incoming Safari Rally Cars zoomed past them.
(The time between each passing race car was about 2-5 minutes.)
Can You Take Your Kids To Watch Safari Rally?
Yes. You can take your kids with you to watch the safari rally. Children love running around, so fun activities like playing with kites and face painting would be great for them. And because not everyone present at the event shares the same belief system, for example, access to alcohol, you may want to keep an eye on where your kids hang around.
At the safari rally, we noticed that families were not shy about bringing their kids to watch this sport. Also, some of us couldn’t help but remember memories from childhood of watching rally drivers in their decorated rally cars.
5) Things To Do at Hell’s Gate National Park
- Taking a Safari Drive around the Park.
- Rock Climbing.
A trip to the Hell’s Gate National Park is possible when travelling from Nairobi (127.2km away) in one day.
The next day’s itinerary can include visiting nearby parks: Lake Naivasha & Lake Nakuru National Parks.
ARE THERE FEMALE RALLY DRIVERS IN WRC?
YES. Existing ladies are competing in the World Rally Championship, including female co-drivers.
In Kenya, Maxine Wahome is the first female to have raced, finished and won a WRC competition.
Maxine won the 2022 Safari Rally Kenya in the WRC-3 category, racing in a Ford Fiesta Rally3 car, Number 34, with the help of Murage Waigwa as her co-driver.
Congratulations to Maxine Wahome.
About MAXINE WAHOME
Born in Kenya, the 26-year-old Maxine Wahome once competed in off-road motorcycle races before competing in rally cars officially in 2020.
Both she and her younger brother, Jeremiah Wahome, get to compete together in WRC 2022. It runs in the family. Her father, Jimmy Wahome, was also a rally driver.
Professionally, Maxine is a qualified kindergarten teacher.
DAY 3 WRC HIGHLIGHTS.
Personal Experience of Safari Rally Kenya 2022.
26th June 2022. It was a cold Sunday with expected showers to drop. The day with the highest attendance. Everyone was ready to see the crème de la crème of the rally drivers showcase their skills.
Fesh-Fesh is a type of fine dust.
The rally drivers had to get accustomed to the clouds of dust that kept blocking their windscreens. When it rained, the fesh-fesh was like soft mud. At fast speed, just a slip could make the cars roll over.
The fans were also not left out of the fesh-fesh effects. We had dust all over: from our eyes to what we had on. We could even taste the dust particles – something we didn’t mind, as long as we had the WRC experience.
(Psst! Next time, if you have a bandana or cap, you could survive leaving the rally with little or no fesh-fesh on your hair)😊
2) A Special Entrance
Throughout the event, the park’s wildlife was nowhere in sight (except for a few monkeys). The organisers had sectioned off the park to separate the wild animals from the crowds of people.
But one special Gazelle got to have its Safari Rally experience.
(At first, I kept saying it was a deer, only to find out there is no deer in Kenya.)
Enjoying the attention and motivated by the cheers and ululations, the Gazelle performed its jumps on the safari rally tracks – one of the highlights and benefits of having the rally held at a Park😊
Gazelles are a beauty to behold.
Thin in size, a Gazelle is known for being graceful in its jumps (stots / pronks). It can jump up to 10 feet (3 metres).
Some of the differences between a Gazelle and a Deer include the following:
- A Gazelle can run faster than a Deer.
- A Deer is known for its hinds (steady and sure feet that enable it to tread on whatever dangerous heights).
3) Wonderful Creation
Sitting on the roof of our LandCruiser, it was not just the powerful race machines and exceptional drivers that caught our eyes.
There were the hills, green trees, blue sky, white clouds, and the big rocks all to ourselves.
It was the best place for a quiet time at no cost, which left us with a sense of gratitude and peace.
4) Chopper Moments
LAST BUT NOT least.
One thing is sure: buzzing and popping rally car sounds excite everyone. Then came the loud chopper sounds caused by their rotor blades ‘chopping’ the air.
The sight of both was worth every second. The eye in the sky and the rally car on the ground, racing together to the finish line.
(Not every rally driver had a pilot escort.)
WHAT YOU SHOULD BRING TO A SAFARI RALLY.
1) What To CARRY To WRC.
To get to the event you need,
Clothes you don’t mind getting dust & which also are warm because of the cold. You might consider carrying the warm lengthy Maasai shukas (you will also be blending with the Maasai people.).
Weather patterns might change, therefore carrying an umbrella and rain coats will come in handy.
Friends, but if maybe a Sanguine you can as well meet new and lots of friends there.
Food and drinks of your own, will help you save up and enjoy the full safari Rally experience, instead did wasting time looking for something to eat. DON’T forget lots of water for hydration.
It can be cooking items – plates, cups, spoons, sufurias, jikos, grills
Lots of water and wipes will COME IN HANDY for washing your hands either before eating OR after visiting the washrooms/toilets.
A Camera for keeping memories of the fun time you had; your Phone Camera will do just fine. The photos will also come in handy for people like me, if you own a website or write blogs, photos of your own are a plus. You might also need a small tripod for holding the camera / phone.
Tents for sleeping, an alternative from sleeping in the hotels around (as actually they were fully booked).
Some cash for extra activities like biking…
MEANS to go there preferably a 4by4 that can manouever the slippery soil and the hilly areas (as some cars needed help to go over such obstacles), which I heard was also known as ‘fesh fesh’.
If in need of more leisure(mastarehee), we say people with chairs, a tent too.
One more item that I kept close was a pair of binoculars. because of the distance, and the huge Hell’s Gate Area. They gave me a close-up of the action. (You might not need one if you have the advantage of getting up close to the less crowded VIP or VVIP section and watch everything on the big screens).
Cash for Miscellaneous needs.
2) What To KNOW When In WRC.
Costs / Expenses.
To know how much you need to go watch WRC is important.
IT IS FREE of charge to get a taste of the Safari Rally Kenya experience on the rally grounds (unless you want a VIP or VVIP ticket that guarantees you a seat next to the finish line and near the podium).
The major costs include planning where to lay your head for the night if attending all three days. So food and accommodation will be your major costs.
Food & Snacks are sold.
There are FoodTrucks and also Vendors for drinks too.
Hotels in Naivasha are plenty. Whether Luxurious as from 50 Dollars or Budget hotels as low as 20 Dollars, you will find.
You will need to cover transportation costs too (public / private).
Planning these costs in advance guarantees fewer if not any frustrations, thus enjoying every bit of Safari Rally Kenya.
Toilets / Washrooms.
About toilets / washrooms, you will be glad to know They are plenty of portable toilets stationed around the Hell’s Gate Viewing Areas. You couldn’t miss one. Only during the rally stage breaks when you might have to wait as everyone else also decided to take a toilet break😊They are also clean (this might actually depend on how the previous user left it).
WHO WON THE WRC 2022 SAFARI RALLY KENYA?
The winners of 2022 WRC Safari Rally were Kalle Rovanperä & his co-driver Jonne Halttunen, while racing in a Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 car, Number 69. Both from Finland, they were able to complete the Safari Rally in the fastest time, 3:40:24:9.
(Elfyn Evans from Wales finished second, and Takamoto Katsuta from Japan finished third).
Declared the most successful WRC car, the Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 car competed against Hyundai and M-Sport Ford, winning number one to 4 slots in the 2022 championship Rally Kenya. What a success the Toyota company had (an automotive manufacturer in Japan), as well as its official factory team GR (meaning Gazoo racing).
This competition was said to be the toughest of them all, especially because of Hell’s Gate Fesh Fesh which easily blocked their view and rough terrain…(JUMPLINK) Hence most drivers, their co-drivers, car manufacturers, and their teams were unable to complete the race, including 9th World Rally Championship winner and Frenchman Sébastien Loeb (winning titles consecutively from 2004-2012).
As they sought to finish fast, the fesh fesh was also as fast in blocking their view, loads and loads of it to cover the windscreen. Because of this, we might have a change of terrain in the near future of WRC, when held in Kenya. When this happens, the scenery at Hell’s Gate National Park will be missed.
So as of now, Kalle Rovanperä is leading the 2022 World Rally Championship with 145 points, having won 4 rallies already: Rally Sweden, Croatia Rally, Rally de Portugal, and recently Safari Rally Kenya.
(As after Rally New Zealand, the 2022 WRC title has already been taken by Kalle Rovanperä & Jonne Halttunen. It is their very first World Rally Championship after finishing 4th in WRC 2021. At 22 years old, Kalle Rovanperä is now the youngest rally driver to be a WRC Champion – a record that had been previously held by Colin McRae 27 years ago in 1995.)
About KALLE ROVANPERÄ
Safari Rally Champion of 2022 is from the Republic of Finland, Kalle Rovanperä. Born in October 1st 2000, he is the youngest driver to have ever won a World Rally Championship event – Rally Estonia, July 2021 – when he was only 20 years old. This was his very first rally win.
(Estonia is home to Ott Tänak, the 2019 WRC Champion, and the first Estonian to have ever won this Championship.)
Safari Rally seems to run in the family: his father, Harri Rovanperä, was also a Safari Rally driver. An interesting fact to note is the son got to win the same Safari Rally event he participated in 20 years later. Harri finished second in 2002, while his son scooped the winning position in 2022 Safari Rally Kenya.
Have a good time as you attend future Safari Rally events. Most importantly, enjoy it with your family / friends. Those memories will keep your spirits alive, something to laugh about in future😊
And as the President of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta said, “The prize is not in winning, the prize is how you win“, win each day as Kalle Kovanperä did. Life is a process. A journey.
So today, for this article, let’s say cheers to K. Kovanperä and the Toyota Gazoo Racing team🥂