The Most Iconic Safari Rally Drivers

The Safari Rally is a car driving competition which is held in Kenya. The competition was first held in 1953 in three East African countries namely Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika (modern Tanzania) as part of the celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II coronation ceremony.

From 1973 to 2002, the event was part of the World Rally Championship. It resumed in 2021, ten years later. It is scheduled to be happening every year in Kenya. The world class drivers show their prowess by covering a competitive distance of over 350 kilometers, which is subdivided into stages, within a given time. 

From previous decades until today, the world has witnessed iconic Safari Rally drivers who have made world records, broken other world records and done marvelous drives during the Safari Rallies. Below are some of the famous safari rally drivers whose footprints are written on the sands of the oceans due to their expertise in making the Safari Rally events memorable and world-class. 

1. Colin McRae

Colin  McRae
Colin McRae

Born in 1968, Colin Steele McRae was a British rally car driver born in Scotland. He was a consecutive British Rally Champion, having won the competitions in 1991 and 1992. In 1995, McRae won the World Rally Championship Driver’s title, becoming the youngest person and the first British driver to win the title. 

He took part in a total of 146 car rallies and won 25 of them. McRae’s exceptional performances with the Subaru World Rally Team led to the team winning World Rally Championship Manufacturer’s title in 1995,1996 and 1997. He died in 2002 from a helicopter crash.

2. Carl Tundo

Tundo is a famous 48-year-old Kenyan Safari Rally car driver. He has won the Safari Rally five times. The iconic driver boasts of being the first and only Kenyan to have won the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, which he won in 2009.

He has competed two times in the Safari Rally, in 2002 and 2021. Tundo’s skills and competence can be traced back to his roots, for he is the son of Frank Tundo, a Kenyan rally driver.

3. Björn Waldegård

He was a rally driver from Sweden who won the World Rally Championship for drivers in 1979 during its inauguration. He raced in a total of 95 rallies, winning 16 of them and one Championship.

Waldegård is famed for his successful races in Africa. He won three Safari Rally competitions and bagged three victories from the Ivory Coast Rally. The most recent victory in Africa was in 2011 during the East African Safari Classic competitions. He died in 2014.

4. Miki Biasion

Another icon safari rally driver is Massimo Miki Biasion, an Italian rally driver. He is a two-time champion of the World Rally. He was active for 15 years, from 1980 to 1994 and took part in 78 rallies, winning 17 of them, apart from the two World Championships. 

Biasion’s wife, Chantal Galli, was also an Italian rally driver. She won the Italian Women’s rally championships several times.

5. Ian Duncan

Duncan is one of the most famous rally drivers in Kenya’s history. His first rally was in 1983 and he drove a Nissan Pick-up, becoming ninth and raising rally people’s eyebrows. He has participated in 15 rallies and won 6 Rally Championships. 

In 1994, he won a World Rally Championship round with an unmatched victory. In 2006, Duncan became the first driver to have won the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) ten times. He would go ahead to win the same rally in 2007, elongating his record.

6. Shekhar Mehta

Shekhar Mehta
Shekhar Mehta

This was a Kenyan-Indian rally driver born in Uganda. He made a record by winning the Safari Rally five times,  four of them being consecutive. He had his first motor-sport encounter and trial in 1966.

He actively participated in rallies between 1966 and 1987. He won 21% of all the rallies he tossed himself into. To him, rallying was his passionate experience and he regarded it with honor. It was not like any other sport someone would engage in.

7. Tommi Mäkinen

Tommi Mäkinen
Tommi Mäkinen

He is a Finnish former rally car driver and current racing executive. He was actively involved in racing between 1987 and 2003. During his active years in racing, the icon competed in 139 rallies and bagged victory in 24 of them. 

He won four championships consecutively, from 1996 to 1999. He ranks fifth in all rally wins and third in championships. Mäkinen got into the books of rally history as the first person to win a Championship as a driver and a team principal.

8. Richard Burns

Richard Alexander Burns was an English Rally driver born in 1971 in the United Kingdom. Among many other wins, Burns won the World Rally Championships in 2001, which was his final win. He raised Mitsubishi to a world manufacturer’s title in 1998 and also propelled Peugeot to the same level in 2002.

Robert Reid was his co-driver all through. He won a total of 10 rallies of the 104 he participated in. His final rally was in 2003 and he died in the same year, four years after winning the World Rally Championship. A brain tumor snatched him from the land of the living.

9. Baldev Chager

Chager is a Kenyan rally driver who boasts of having bagged numerous victories in the world of racing. He turned 47 as of 2022 and is a multiple championship rally winner, having won the Kenya National Rally Championship four times. 

His victory in the 10th edition of the 2022 East African Safari Classic, according to him, was the most prestigious of all. He used a Porsche 911 car sponsored by Kabras sugar company and achieved a time difference of 07:43:09 from his nearest competitor.

10. Azar Anwar

Azar Anwar
Azar Anwar

Since January 2021, he has been helping other rally people by offering training sessions to motor-sport enthusiasts. The 67-year-old is probably known as a highly-skilled Kenyan rally driver. He is on top of most of the other rally drivers and has gained his expertise from having participated in 26 rallies. 

The champion is currently working on his car in preparation for the upcoming Safari Rally in Kenya. It is the latest Toyota Yaris. It is the first all-wheel-drive in 20 years, with other technological advancements for the best performance.

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