Kenyan youngsters Jeremy Wahome, Hamza Anwar and McRae Kimathi put in assured performances at the recently concluded World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally, showcasing the next generation of Kenya’s motorsport talent.
The trio, who was sponsored by Safaricom and Kenya Airways (KQ), took part in the event as part of the FIA Rally Star Program, a global initiative that seeks to identify, train, and develop talented young drivers between the ages of 17 to 26.
Driving an M-Sport Fiesta Rally 3, 22-year-old Jeremy Wahome, in the cockpit with co-driver Victor Okundi, drew from his experience in Formula 3 to finish in 16th place in his first-ever rally event, taking on more experienced drivers in one of the toughest WRC events.
“I am happy with my finish and I want to thank sponsors such as Safaricom for coming onboard to support us become professional and world-class drivers. This will enable us to have Kenyan drivers participate in the main event in the next five years that the rally will be in the country,” said Jeremy Wahome.
Hamza Anwar, also 22 years, finished 25th overall. Hamza comes from a strong rally heritage, as his father Asad Anwar and uncle Azar Anwar are both famous for their rally exploits.
The third young rally star, McRae Kimathi, 26 years, put on a strong show throughout the grueling course, but had to retire his vehicle in the final stage due to a mechanical problem.
The WRC Safari Rally, which made its comeback to Kenya after a 19-year hiatus, was won by World Champion Sebastien Ogier, with his Toyota Gazoo team-mate Takamoto Katsuta emerging second.
Third place went to Hyundai Motorsport’s Ott Tanak.
Kenyan trio Onkar Rai, Karan Patel and Carl Tundo who were also sponsored by Safaricom finished in the seventh, eighth and ninth positions respectively.
And as the rally came to an end on Sunday, President Uhuru Kenya said Kenya has already inked a deal with WRC, and the International Automobile Federation (FIA) for Kenya to host Safari Rally annually for the next five years.
Speaking during the closing ceremony of the three-day rally event in Naivasha, President Kenyatta said the rally had shown the rest of the world Kenya’s mastery at hosting global events despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It gives me great pleasure, therefore, to announce, that we have agreed, with the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and the World Rally Championship (WRC), to continue hosting the Safari Rally in Kenya, every year until 2026,” the President announced.
Kenyans turned up in thousands to witness the historic event that has since put Kenya on the global map.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed said the rally has managed to inject at least Ksh.6 billion into the economy.