Patel, Sachania Target Top Ten Finish As KCB Pumps Sh195 Million In 2024 Safari Rally

Raslly driver Karan Patel and CS Sports Ababu Namwamba zoom along Moi Avenue during the launch of 2024 KCB/WRC Safari Rally sponsorship to Sh195m in Nairobi. Feb 12, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

African Rally champion Karan Patel and Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba zoom along Moi Avenue, Nairobi, in a Skodia Fabia R5 during the launch of 2024 KCB/WRC Safari Rally sponsorship on Feb 12, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

NAIROBI, Kenya- Reigning African Rally champion Karan Patel and national Group N champion Nikhil Sachania are all motivated for a top ten finish in the third leg of the 2024 World Rally Championship (WRC), the Safari Rally, set for March 28-31 in Naivasha, Nakuru County.

This is after the duo renewed their sponsorship deal in Nairobi on Monday with KCB Bank ahead of the competition that is expected to amass over 100 million viewership this season.

The bank has sunk Sh 195 million into the global spectacle that will traverse the rugged terrains of Naivasha. Out of the funds, Sh100 million will go towards the WRC Safari Rally Kenya preparations and logistics and Sh 95 million will cater for branding and sponsorships, which will include the Sh16.6 million that has been extended to the two drivers by the bank.

“I’m really grateful, it’s the precious family, the friends and good partners like KCB who keep pushing me beyond my limits in the sport,” Sachania, who will ply trade in a Mitsubishi EVO 10, told Standard Sports. Patel said the deal with KCB has now motivated him to go for a double in the African Rally Championship (ARC) this season as he also looks forward for a top ten finish in the Safari Rally.

Check presentation at the 2024 KCB World Rally Championhip, Safari Rally sponsorship launch in Nairobi on Feb 12, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

“This support is priceless, I cannot put it into words, it’s not cheap to run these cars, it’s not cheap to enter the WRC Safari Rally either because of the costs involved. I’ll forever be grateful to KCB for this kind gesture,” stated Patel. Patel said his dream is now to win the ARC 4 or 5 times and this is the reason he is not vigorously celebrating the first gong he won last year.

He is already set for both the Safari Rally and the ARC after acquiring a new ride, a Skoda Fabia R5 that he hopes will do him justice in the two events.

“I have been high flying in the ARC, I hope to replicate the same in the Safari Rally where I have had two years of Did Not Finish,” underlined Patel.

KCB Group CEO Paul Russo and KCB Group Director Marketing and Communications Rosalind Gichuru hailed the drivers saying they have great potential to do well in the Safari Rally. They reiterated that the bank is committed to work hand in hand with the Kenyan Government to make the country’s dream in the Safari Rally a reality.

They said the bank has adopted a sustainability initiative in their quest to promote sports in the country and this will see the financial institution plant 300,000 trees in addition to the 320,000 planted last season.

“We take great pride in being part of the region’s motorsport story, since 2003, when we first sponsored the Safari Rally. We are glad to have been part of this transformational journey that has seen Kenya return to the top of the global motoring space. It is exciting to see that our sponsorship has resulted in the growth of motorsport in the region, opening up the sport to hundreds of young talents,” Russo stated.

“So far, the bank has spent Sh2.5 billion in support of rugby, golf, athletics, motorsports, football, volleyball, and rugby with a robust aim of opening doors of opportunities for young people to realize their dreams in line with the Group’s brand purpose, For People. For Better.,” he added.

African Rally champion Karan Patel (Right) and Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba in a Skodia Fabia R5 during the launch of 2024 KCB/WRC Safari Rally sponsorship in Nairobi on Feb 12, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba hailed the bank for its relentless support of motorsports for the past 21 years which has seen KCB spent over Sh 1.7 billion in support of the Kenya National Rally Championship, the Autocross Championship, and the Safari Rally. 

“The Government is committed to let WRC have its presence here in Kenya, therefore Safari Rally is here to stay, we project that the competition will pump in Sh7 billion revenue into the Kenyan economy this season,” Namwamba highlighted.

Namwamba added that the Government will expand the number of women drivers who will be out to seek glory in the WRC Safari Rally through the Talanta Hella Initiative.

The 7-Star points by the Government to make this year’s WRC Safari Rally better:

1. Rally moved from June to March to return the global competition to its original soul.

2. Starting point shifted from Uhuru Park to the Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC).

3. Prize giving moved from Service Park to Hell’s Hate to ease traffic and logistics on last day.

4. Rally leadership refreshed to promote accountability, transparency and efficiency.

5. Government set to unveil Kenya School of Rallying to anchor growth of motorsports in the country.

6. Premier national championship, the KNRC, set to be revamped from Junior to Senior category to add Kenyan flavour into the sport.

7. Expansion of rally sponsorship by the Government, KCB and other sponsors on board.

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