There may be a ton of things that Africa is known for; but one of the best kept secrets has got to be the African motorcar rallies. Thanks to the rugged terrains on most African roads; especially those located off the beaten path, these stand at being among the most challenging rallies all over the world.
Which African rallies attract both participants and spectators alike?
1. KCB Safari Rally
Launched in 1953 as the East African Coronation Safari, this well-known safari rally has attracted fans the world over, becoming somewhat of an attraction on its own. It was even part of the World Rally Championship (WRC) for many years until 2002 when it was dropped due to lack of funding and organization. Currently, this safari rally falls under the African Rally Championship (ARC) and the reason it is known as KCB Safari Rally is because it is sponsored by Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB).
2. Dakar Rally
It began in 1978 as the Paris-Dakar Rally owing to the route travelled from Paris to France. This route was to be later changed as a result of security threats and as from 2009, it has been held in South America. Being a well-known rally all over the world, Dakar Rally is mostly comprised of amateur drivers with only about 20% of the participants being professional drivers.
Also of interest to note is that this rally is not so much a rally as it is an endurance course of sorts. The roads traversed by Dakar Rally drivers are much more rugged and the cars involved are majorly the heavy-duty off-road vehicles.
3. East African Safari Classic Rally
With the first event having been held in December 2003, the East African Safari Classic Rally was brought about to revive the excitement of the initial safari rally. The major regulation in this rally is that only classic cars are allowed to enter into the competition. The path taken is normally the countryside regions of Kenya and Tanzania and the rally takes nine days on average.
What is truly striking about this rally sponsored by Kenya Airways is that it embraces the true spirit of safari rally just as it was intended to be: classic cars and rugged terrains combined to form the spectacle that is the African safari rally.
4. Rallye Cote d’Ivoire
A rally race held annually in Cote d’Ivoire, this stands at being amongst the most popular rallies in Africa. It is especially famous for its grueling conditions, as well as for the rate of attrition evident among the competitors. The Rallye Cote d’Ivoire has in the past been part of the World Rally Championship (WRC) and even part of the African Rally Championship (ARC) but it was dropped from WRC. From ARC, it was dropped for the 2007 season citing irregularities but it was again reinstated in 2008.
5. Pearl of Africa Rally
If there is one thing that the Ugandans absolutely love it has got to be rally racing, and the Pearl of Africa Rally happens to be one of the main motor sporting events in the country. Being part of the ARC, this rally event was named after the ‘nickname’ which Winston Churchill gave to Uganda: the Pearl of Africa. The first edition of this sporting rally was held in 1997 and the event has grown both in popularity as well as in splendor over the years.
6. Zambia International Motor Rally
Being one of the veteran rallies in the African Rally Championship, the Zambia rally also happens to be among the oldest rally events in the continent. It is said to be similar to the Kenyan Safari rally in toughness and has drawn participants as well as spectators from the world over. This Zambia International Motor Rally has been dominated by Zambia’s motorsport legend Satwant Singh, who has won it 14 times. Foreign drivers have had their moment of glory too in winning this race.