WRC Safari Rally 2024: The thrills and spills as top contenders gear up for Kenya action


In the heart of the East African savannah, the anticipation is palpable as the motorsport world braces for the adrenaline-fueled spectacle of the World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally in Kenya.

With just hours remaining until the flag-off, drivers are preparing to tackle what promises to be a wet and grueling showdown amidst the rugged terrain.

Scheduled as the third round of the 2024 FIA WRC season, the Safari Rally has been thrust into the Easter slot, departing from its traditional June timing.

Action during the 2023 Safari Rally. PHOTO: World Rally Championship

This shift has set the stage for an unprecedented challenge, with heavy rains already drenching the country, transforming dusty trails into treacherous mud baths.

Commencing from Kenya’s bustling capital, Nairobi, the rally kicks off with a thrilling Super Special Stage, captivating spectators with the raw power and agility of the competing machines.

From there, the action moves to Naivasha, situated 80 kilometers northwest of Nairobi, where drivers will navigate the demanding landscape over three grueling days, culminating in a climactic finish on Sunday.

With a stellar lineup of 29 entries featuring top contenders from across the globe, expectations for the Safari Rally have soared to dizzying heights.

Drivers have descended upon Kenya, eager to test their mettle against the elements and vie for supremacy in one of motorsport’s most revered events.

Leading the championship charge is Thierry Neuville, aiming to clinch his maiden Safari victory after unfortunate retirements in the 2021 and 2023 editions.

Kenyan President William Ruto (left) gets a taste of action ahead of the 2023 Safari Rally. PHOTO: World Rally Championship

Speaking from the Masai Mara Game Reserve, Neuville expressed his anticipation for the challenge ahead, acknowledging the unique trials posed by Kenya’s windy season.

Hot on Neuville’s heels is Welsh sensation Elfyn Evans of Toyota Gazoo Racing, trailing by a mere three points in the standings.

Meanwhile, Frenchman Adrien Fourmax of M-Sport Ford finds himself in third place, poised to tackle the unfamiliar terrain and scorching temperatures of the Kenyan wilderness.

As drivers acclimatize to the sweltering conditions, Kenya’s tourism efforts have taken center stage, with competitors treated to a captivating two-day safari at the iconic Masai Mara Game Reserve.

This initiative underscores Kenya’s ambition to leverage its burgeoning motorsport industry, enticing enthusiasts to explore the country’s natural wonders beyond the confines of the rally circuit.

Action during the 2023 Safari Rally. PHOTO: World Rally Championship

Challenging terrain

However, Mother Nature has thrown a curveball, with torrential downpours intensifying the challenge of an already arduous rally.

Forging through deep waters and treacherous mud, drivers must summon all their skill and courage to conquer the unforgiving terrain.

“We know it’s a windy season as well, so it’s going to be probably a different challenge than what we have seen in the previous years. But it’s always exciting to be here and it’s some kind of adventure and much different than all the other rallies,” WRC Championship leader Thierry Neuville.

Steeped in history, the Safari Rally traces its roots back to 1953, originally conceived as the East African Coronation Safari to commemorate the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II.

Renamed the Kenya Safari Rally in 1974, the event has earned a reputation as the ultimate test of endurance, with over 5,000 competitive kilometers traversing roads open to the public.

As the countdown to the WRC Safari Rally in Kenya draws to a close, the stage is set for a showdown of epic proportions, where man and machine will collide in a battle against nature’s untamed fury.

With drivers poised on the brink of motorsport immortality, the world eagerly awaits the unfurling drama of this legendary event in the heart of Africa’s wilderness.

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