The tenth edition of the East African Safari Classic Rally (EASCR) has attracted 50 drivers from 13 countries including double champion Ian Duncan.
Defending champion Kris Rosenberger leads the top seeds in the line-up. The Austrian is already pumped up ahead of the competition.
Before the race, competitors were warned to expect very difficult terrain in their quest to complete the 5000km journey through 11 Kenyan counties.
“We made several rule changes to make the event more difficult but more exciting. This is to allow the competition to live up to its reputation as an endurance race,” Raju Chaggar, the race director, told Standard Sports.
For the first time in history, riders must complete the entire course to be classified.
Should they finish the competition earlier, they will not be counted as the overall finisher, but will be allowed to continue the competition on the remaining distances to the finish line.
Chaggar, fresh from a nine-day reconnaissance at the boring track, says the longest stage of the race, which starts in Naivasha on February 10 and ends in Watamu on February 18, is a 120km route, while the shortest it is 30km.
“Most of the stages have an endurance distance of about 8 km to 9 km. Crews are expected to cover around 4 to 600km per day,” Chaggar said.
While warning participants of a tiring course, Chaggar said: “It will be a long, challenging event, very difficult for the human mind and their personal strength and willpower.
“The competition will be exhausting for everyone involved; from the service crew to the officials, drivers and those who follow and watch.”
Contrary to its tradition of being held on a wet Easter holiday, this year’s competition takes place in a dry February.
“Temperatures will rise above 37 degrees, the 2WD cars will struggle to wade through the soft volcanic soil,” Chaggar said.