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  • Writer's pictureSteve Jones

Safari Rally Kenya: Who said politics and sport don't mix?

The Kenyatta dynasty's long and successful association with WRC is no accident.

[Photo courtesy of the State House Kenya]

From the far-flung shores of Western Europe, it's not always obvious how WRC - and in particular hosting a round of the championship - 'plays' in the pecking-order of priorities faced by national governments and senior politicians in other countries.

We know the importance that Estonia's leaders place on hosting its round, for example.

Back in 2018, we also witnessed how President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan flew into Marmaris Service Park for the final podium ceremony on Rally Turkey that year. He knew full well, this would play well 'with the people'.

In the UK, things are considerably more sedate. Whilst there was generous and long-term financial support from the Welsh Government (at a UK regional level) for Wales Rally GB, it was fundamentally just another sporting sponsorship deal which they funded. I know from my own experience of working in government at the time, there was at no stage any political 'buy-in' nor ownership of Wales Rally GB. At no stage was the rally ever seen as bringing electoral benefit to the table - for any political party in #Wales. Yes, Ministers rocked-up at ceremonial starts and finishes for obligatory photo-ops - but that was about it.

This emphatically cannot be said of Kenya's President, Uhuru Kenyatta. For him, getting Safari Rally Kenya back on the #WRC calendar was a massively big deal. Huge, infact.

He pledged to bring the rally home - and this weekend, he's succeeded. Totally. Unequivocally.

In August 2022, #Kenya will elect a new President. If Kenyatta stands at that election - in an attempt to win a third term in office - expect the success of bringing Safari Rally back to his country, after a long hiatus, to figure prominently in his pitch to voters.

Given the excitement and fervour of the Kenyan people for Safo's return to WRC, when it come to reaping the political rewards for this success, the Kenyatta dynasty will remain on the top step of the podium.


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