AP Photo/Nicolas Aguilera.

Nairobi - Kenya has been officially cleared to stage the Safari Rally as a candidate event for the World Rally Championship, visiting FIA officials confirmed on Tuesday, stating that the staging of the rally this weekend (5 to 7 July) would be the final hurdle to overcome before its readmission into the global championship in 2020. 

The rally will take place in the Nairobi and Naivasha areas and FIA delegates, led by safety delegate Michelle Mouton, will oversee various facets of the candidature event. Mouton will be assisted by FIA liaison Surinder Thatthi. 

"The FIA has a great desire to come back to Africa following FIA President Jean Todt's visit to the country last year," Thatthi said on Tuesday.

"It is evident that the FIA is sympathetic towards Kenya's bid for WRC status. The medical delegate is also very happy and has been working hand in hand with the local medical experts."

In April, Mouton said that the route was perfect but that it needed improvement to make it tougher for drivers, with safety in mind of course. 

Thatthi said that Mouton would provide a comprehensive report to the FIA Safety Commission, regarding safety aspect of the Safari, after the event has concluded. The event will be flagged off in Nairobi on Friday, after which crews will embark on a 4.8km super special stage in the stadium vicinity.

Two sporting delegates, Timo Rautianen and Andrew Wheatly, will report on the sporting aspect of the Safari. 

Kenyan Sports Secretary Kirimi Kaberia said that preparations were complete and that the government was fully supportive of having the event readmitted to the World Rally Championship after it was dropped in 2002 for lack of financial support.

"The government has worked around the clock to ensure that the Safari Rally returns to the WRC, and that funding and preparations are done," Kaberia said. "We have no challenges except for time. It has been long coming and we hope to deliver a successful event. We are confident that we will bring the Safari back to world status next year."

Xinhua