As the iconic East African Safari Classic Rally that had been scheduled for 1st – 9th November 2021 had to be postponed due to the prevailing COVID-19 travel restrictions which hindered many participants from jetting in to take part in the iconic rally, the organizers have launched a two-part solution.
EASCR Board of Directors Chairman Joey Ghose said despite the regrettable news of the postponement of the 2021 East African Safari Classic, the management will be rolling out a mini classic rally as a precursor to the ultimate 10th edition of the world’s greatest classic rally that is set to take place on 10th – 18th February 2022.
“This mini-classic is in line with our spirit of fulfilling our competitors’ desires as we prepare for the ultimate challenge, which shall grant free entry for competitors and observe full COVID-19 protocols”, Ghose added.
The first event, this year’s East African Safari Mini Classic will be flagged off at the Waterfront in Karen on 4th November and terminate in Amboseli, Kajiado County, on 6th November. The rally will feature a maximum of 60 drivers among them two notable names in the business of Kenyan rallying. Driver Eric Bengi, 45, who has been rallying since he was 34 and competed in this year’s 2021 WRC Safari Rally, and navigator, Gatimu Mindo, who is 47 are entering the East African Safari Classic Rallies for the first time in a famous and proven Safari rally car, the Datsun 180B.
The two events represent a considerable effort by the new owners and management of the EASCR that aims to rekindle the glory days of rallying and promote the region but with a very real commitment to sustainability and conservation.
Ghose said the classic rally is committed to offsetting direct carbon emissions and will partner with REDD+ in the Chyulu Hills. This involves forest and water conservation along with reforestation projects and the creation of value and real opportunities for local communities and the broader Kenyan society.
The rally boss said the event will involve rally drivers planting trees with selected species of indigenous trees being scattered by the drivers at each checkpoint. Over 50,000 trees will be distributed along the route.
“We recognize the significance of our beloved sport to act in this way and are proud to be in the vanguard of environmental awareness within the rallying world. We intend to pursue the goal of net-zero emissions across the event for the future to keep the sport relevant for all stakeholders and enthusiasts”, Ghose explained.
Earlier on EASCR donated Ksh 2.5 million to Kenya Wildlife Services to support the Magical Kenya Tembo Naming ceremony where it adopted 5 elephants in the event meant to celebrate and champion elephant conservation in Kenya by giving the public an opportunity to adopt and give the selected elephants unique identities.
Additionally, the rallies are partnering with For Rangers, a dedicated group of individuals who are raising money for the welfare of rangers who risk their lives daily to protect Africa’s endangered species.
This year’s rally, which is sponsored by Safaricom and Dimension Data, will be held in commemoration of Jayant Shah one of East Africa’s most accomplished and talked about rally drivers who passed away earlier this year. He was a businessman by profession, humble in character, and passionate about rallying, which led him to pursue the sport from 1967. Shah was a veteran of over 250 rallies worldwide and the only competitor to take part in all previous nine Safari Classics.