review of the best special stages of WRC Safari Rally Kenya 2024

The Most Exciting Special Stages Of Safari Rally Kenya 2024

The FIA World Rally Championship heads to one of its iconic venues – to the African region. Why iconic? Just imagine the first-ever Safari Rally Kenya debuted in 1953 and immediately became one of the most challenging events. Alongside the Acropolis, also held on gravel roads, the Safari Rally is famous for its unpredictable. As many factors interfered with the game, no one knows whether they succeeded in finishing or not. Which factors, you may say? These are different, and it depends on the specific leg. Therefore, I gathered the most spectacular, or better to say, most exciting special stages of Safari Rally Kenya 2024, where everything is possible to happen.

Based in Naivasha, Safari Rally Kenya 2024 consists of 367.76 km of action, covering an overall 1267.57 km, and divided into 19 special stages. 

The WRC African’s adventure is holding on challenging terrain, including dust, sand, and gravel. So, when the weather in Kenya is sunny, rallying fast on these roads is not a good idea, as the dust reduces the visibility soon. 

However, the opposite of sunshine is even worse. The bad news is the weather forecast for African WRC round is about a downpour until Sunday. Simply put, it doubles the difficulties for the rally drivers from stage to stage.

Let’s explore the most interesting of them!

Kasarani

The Kasarani stage opens the Safari Rally Kenya 2024 on Thursday. Lasting for less than 5 kilometers long, it is the action-packed part. 

Kasarani is the only super special stage or the SSS, which means two drivers race each other on two parallel tracks. Therefore, you will see almost two different drivers together.

Usually, SSS takes place in specific stadiums, but it’s not Kasarani’s case. Looking like a polygon, it is an open field. Furthermore, the stage will be more dirty during Thursday’s rainy weather, as all the dust of the scene will transfer into the sticky mud. 

The thrills are guaranteed, especially to the crowds of spectators, who complete the excitement of Kasarani with warm greetings. 

Geothermal

Passing the Geothermal special stage is scheduled for Friday. The drivers run the scene twice: through SS3 and SS6. However, this leg is labeled Geothermal for a reason, and due to its placement, the stage is filled with ruts. 

So, with fumaroles, the route will be challenging, having too many dangers for the drivers. Full of rocks, it is a very bumpy terrain, which means each rally racer has to be accurate at each millimeter. That is what DirtFish mentioned on the previous Rally Safari. Otherwise, the punctures are guaranteed because small rocks are very sharp here. 

Furthermore, this stage includes the drivers running through the narrow gravel roads in the woodland, which has many common patterns with Rally Finland. So what can be more exciting than delving into the forest’ groves, especially when it is about wild African nature? 

Tricky, tough Geothermal is a rough Safari Rally Kenya 2024 stage that you can’t miss out on. The errors most likely will be decisive in the rush of victory in Africa. 

WRC Safari Rally Kenya 2024 schedule by grixme
by grixme.com

Kedong

The Kedong stage follows the Geothermal in the loop and is also scheduled for Friday.

However, it is a very typical stage of the WRC African’s adventure, or better to say, the part of its route, and perhaps I wouldn’t include it on my list if not the last Safari Rally. 

As the round has moved earlier from its dates, the challenge meets specific weather conditions. The weather in March here is rainy, resulting in running this stage becoming an endless struggle.

Thus, in 2023, many drivers punctured tires at the Kedong because of a lot of natural debris and rocks under the layout of mud. At first sight, drivers rallying fast on straight forward but then bum! They immediately have the puncture. 

So, if previously, the gravel scattered with the rocks, the rain changes the circumstances.

Another thrill of this stage is the animals, whose minds are unpredictable for WRC participants, who are forced to slow down, as no one knows when zebras decide to cross the road. 

Soysambu

One of the favorites among local rally fans is the Soysambu stage. It is very spectacular for these reasons. 

It is a scene where you can see many fauna inhabitants such as giraffes, zebras, monkeys, etc. 

However, the main feature of the stage is the surface here changes with rainfall. The dusty open field becomes one huge but not deep marsh. With demanding rallying skills, each mistake here costs a rally driver the flat out.

I like Soysambu because local fans bring an original and warm atmosphere. The stage covers 30 km, launching the Saturday’s leg, and the second pass starts after the service afternoon. 

Sleeping Warrior

You wonder, but 30km is not the record distance because the Sleeping Warrior is no less than the iconic stage of Safari Rally Kenya. The most dangerous and exhausting scene of the event covers over 31 km!

After passing the leg, drivers gladly claim: ‘I survived!’ Sleeping Warrior is famous for its mix of terrains, changing from gravel and dust to rocks, while many sections are slippery. 

The drivers pass the Sleeping Warrior twice on Saturday. So, if the first run they’re partly successful; however, no one can do it without problems, then the second run is a matter of fortune. 

What’s the problem with driving for 31 km, you may say? Well, the case is it is at the African terrain. The current WRC cars are sensitive to changing conditions soon, especially without service support to improve their settings.

So, as a result, participants come with all types of technical problems, damaging suspension, car parts, and punctures. 

Therefore, Sleeping Warrior is always a turning point and decisive stage of Rally Safari, and the 2024 edition is no exception. So, the battle for victory takes its peak on Saturday.

The last time, Toyota driver Elfyn Evans described the scene perfectly. He couldn’t control the action; not everything was in his hands, as he said: ‘The car drove me.’ 

Oserian

Oserian is a ‘roller coaster’ part of the Safari Rally. Full of ups and downs, the scene includes a mix of open areas and roads through the forest.

Passing Oserian requires drivers to turn the steering wheel more actively, causing high demands for additional physical and endurance.

What’s more, the roads on the stage are bumpy, slippery, and very narrow, causing each wrong move to cost drivers time, even if it is a short distance of more than 18 km. Moreover, additional loads for suspension are guaranteed.

So, the Oserian will be a stunning gravel ride for 18 km that drivers pass twice on Sunday. 

Hell’s Gate

Hell’s Gate is the most spectacular stage of Safari Rally 2024. The second pass through the scene forms the Wolf Power Stage with additional scores to the drivers’ standings – a worthy reason to pass the stage without errors, but it won’t be easy.

Narrow and dusty, these gravel roads are very tricky. The case is that the drivers always have felt the urge to go a few tens faster during all 10 kilometers of the Hell’s Gate stage. However, it is a mental trap of this section. 

First, because it is very narrow, and even a tiny error can make the game over. The Hell’s Gate doesn’t have as many turns as Oserian, but many trees on the route are placed near the road. 

The second one is gravel sand, as the dust climbing out of the car immediately reduces the visibility. Furthermore, the weather forecast promises the sun on Sunday.

So, yes, the stage is as fast as slippery. 

The third thrill of the scene are animals. So, less than at Soysambu, but still meeting with any one of them on the route will be a stroke of bad luck due to the lack of visibility. Therefore, keeping the mind cold to slow down the speed is crucial for the drivers. 

Takeaways

Rally Safari takes a special place in the FIA World Rally Championship, and Africa’s rally adventure 2024 is no exception. A tough challenge sets in top alongside Greece’s round at the top of the most difficult rallies. 

So, among the special stages of Safari Rally Kenya 2024, there are a few that are most exciting for spectators as well as for the drivers. Two for each day of competitions, except Thursday. 

Thus, I highly recommend you pay attention to the following. 

Super special stage Kasarani, which kicks the event on Thursday as SSS1. 

Geothermal (SS3, SS6) and Kedong (SS4, SS7) add the tension to Friday’s leg. 

Soysambu (SS8, SS11) and Sleeping Warrior (SS10, SS13), you cannot miss out on Saturday because those provide the most terrific racing challenge of the event. The iconic Sleeping Warrior most likely decides the winners and losers.  

On Sunday, get ready to see the epic rallying racing at Oserian (SS15, SS16) and Hell’s Gate (SS18, SS19), which forms the final Wolff Power Stage. 

As you see, it is for a reason that Safari Rally is worthy of being the WRC’s crown jewel.

References