Safari’s blueprint for Rally NZ’s WRC return

| Photographer Credit: Red Bull Media

The Safari Rally made a triumphant return to the WRC in Kenya last weekend, after a 19 year absence from rallying’s top level.

Its success should give Rally New Zealand organisers renewed energy to again push for the country’s long-awaited return to the World Rally Championship.

We’d all seen highlights of Safari Rallies from years gone by and had marveled at the toughness of the route, but never before had we seen the rally in such detail.

World Rally Championship, Naivasha, Kenya

Through the WRC’s All Live coverage, we sat for three days marveling at the magnificent vistas, the brief sightings of wild animals, the rugged and rocky roads, the plumes of blinding dust, and the dramas that unfolded in front of our very eyes.

The rallying world was star struck, with casual viewers glued to their couches to watch the next stage, and the one after that too.

The success will surely ensure that the Safari Rally is here to stay in the World Rally Championship.

The same will be the case for Rally New Zealand. The event will only need one chance to stage another round of the WRC, and the its future should will virtually be set in stone.

Takamoto Katsuta (JPN) Daniel Barritt (GB) of team Toyota Gazoo Racing are seen on road section during the World Rally Championship Kenya in Naivasha, Kenya

Like Safari, we’ve never been able to watch Rally New Zealand like we can now. And without a doubt, it would quickly become the most anticipated and most watched rally of the season.

Picture, if you will, the live helicopter shots of cars along the Whaanga Coast, or on any of the fast, flowing public road stages.

It would provide the season’s best viewing and, like Safari Rally Kenya, would lock in Rally New Zealand for many seasons to come.

Of course, that’s all easier said than done. Keeping the event would appear to be the easy bit – being given a round in the first place is the difficult part.

Now that the mould has been cast though, Rally New Zealand needs to double down with an energy and vigour to ensure that, by hell or high water, the World Rally Championship returns to Kiwi shores.

New Zealand rally fans deserve nothing less.

Peter has been the editor of RallySport Magazine since its inception in 1989, in both printed and online form. He is a long-time competitor, event organiser and official, as well as working in the media.

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