Excitement was in the air as leading national broadcaster, Standard Group PLC, revived a 1950 partnership with the East African Safari Classic Rally (EASCR) on Monday in Nairobi.
The rekindling of nostalgic memories was marked with a stunning Motor Show event held at the Standard Group Center along Mombasa Road.
Rally legends and experienced drivers performed stunts and drifts while circling the venue’s fountain, leaving the crowd in awe.
Classic cars including a Nissan Navara, Porshe and BMW highlighted some of the action that audiences should expect at the tenth edition of EASCR, scheduled from February 10-18 across 11 Kenyan counties.
“It’s my first time in a rally car. I don’t know what to expect. The closest thing to a rally car was in a go-kart, but I’m just as excited,” said Orlando Lyomu, CEO of Standard Group PLC before getting a daring ride from ALS Head of Technical, Ben Musomba.
Musomba drove and turned at unimaginable angles, revealing the kind of pull the 1969 Porshe can resist.
“The machine is comfortable, you don’t even feel its tremendous speed,” said Lyomu after the hair-raising fight.
Pipi Renu, the EASCR logistics manager, was the first to sweep the ‘track’ with his Nissan Navara, which acted as the safety car.
“Car number 00 always makes sure the track is okay for all the competitors,” explained Renu after his breathtaking performance under the scorching Nairobi sun.
Then came three-time Kenya National Rally Championship winner Azar Anwar!
With his BMW E28-535i, the former Kenya Motorsport Personality of the Year winner showed the audience what has made him a legend in the sport.
He spun, drifted and raced in a confined space at cutthroat speed, completing his stunt to wild applause from onlookers.
Explaining the importance of the partnership, Lyomu said the media house will provide Ksh 21 million worth of coverage at the upcoming event.
“We are the home of sport. We’re rekindling the relationship that existed between the 1950’s and the 70’s. We are giving people back the past glory because the Classic Rally was a household name during the Easter holidays in Kenya,” said Lyomu.
Charles Otieno, Director of Weekly Newspapers, Sports and Entertainment, assured the rally crowd that they would be in for a show to remember during the competition.
“As a media company, we also deal with sports productions. The Classic Rally is one of the disciplines that we want to develop further,” said Otieno.
Anwar already believes local riders who have signed up for the competition will be up to the task this season.
Instructor Raju Chaggar has already issued a clean bill of health for the 5000km route that winds from Naivasha to Watamu.
“I’ve just come back from a nine day inspection of the roads and stages, the track is great, drivers should expect obstacles and challenges that will suit the rally,” said Raju.
Events Director Tash Tundo reiterated Orlando’s sentiments, saying they are working hard to bring the competition back to the people.
“About 13 countries will participate in this competition. As EASCR, we look forward to a better partnership with Standard Group that will help us present Kenya to the rest of the world,” said Tundo.
Rally legend Sylvia King welcomed the new relationship, saying sponsorship is crucial for any sporting event to thrive in today’s world.
Standard Group Board Member Juliana Rotich, who believes the competition will help bring back her childhood memories of the Easter holidays, had this wonderful quote to end the session.
“To win, you have to know how to lose,” she said.
EACSR group 4 seeding
1. Glen Edmunds
2. Frederico Polese
3. Ramesh Visram
4. Steve Parkinson
5. Ian Dobson
6. Rajesh Maini
7. Joey chose