Sardinia was a blast, but then it’s probably the most anticipated rally of all: the Safari. For a while, the World Rally Championship visit to Africa seemed uncertain, but it now runs from June 24-27, with 58 teams entered.
The one we will be looking for is # 36, a Ford Fiesta Rally3. Its driver is Sobieslaw Zasada, who will break the record for the oldest driver to start a WRC event – at 91.
Yes, you read that right. With less than a decade of his 100th birthday, the three-time European champion is about to face the toughest rally in the world. He has a lot of experience, having already competed in the Safari eight times, including a second place in 1972 at the wheel of a Porsche 911 S, behind Hannu Mikkola. His most recent entry dates back to 1997, when, already well into his sixties, he finished 12th in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III.
Zasada had actually planned to tackle Safari last year, but Covid got in the way. And don’t think for a minute that he intends to just have fun.
“I’m really curious about what rallies look like today, compared to the ones I remember from half a century ago,” he said. “The Safari is my youth, and I still miss it – that’s why I go back. I know I can do it because I train a lot and I’m still in good physical shape.
While Safari is more of a sprint than a marathon these days, nothing can trump the experience. And while he surely won’t break Björn Waldegård’s record by becoming the oldest overall winner of a WRC event (the Swede won the Safari 1990 at 46), Zasada has a chance of becoming the oldest class winner by far, with almost exactly double that of Waldegrd. record age.
If Zasada can do it, we would like to start a campaign to enter him in next year’s Junior WRC, which also uses the Fiesta. What about M-Sport?
However, he will face strong opposition from local drivers in the category. In terms of pure ambition, it’s hard to look past # 49, driven by McRae Kimathi. He has something to measure up to, just like No.50 driver Evans Kavisi.
This shows that in Kenya rally drivers are real heroes, with the Safari one of the last great adventures. But perhaps none is more heroic than the low-voice Pole who refuses to retire.
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This notice was published: 2021-06-10 23:01:24