‘It’s just about you, the road and your maker’: Inside the East African Safari Classic, one of the world’s gnarliest motor rallies
By Briana Duggan and Tom Page, CNN
6 minute read
4:15 AM EDT, Fri April 8, 2022
This year marked the 10th edition of the East African Safari Classic, one of the world's toughest rallies. Held over nine days in February, drivers like US professional Ken Block (pictured driving a Porsche 911) compete alongside local drivers, and this year, the first all-indigenous Kenyan team.
The route for the 2022 race covered thousands of kilometers over the course of nine days. Italian driver Federico Polese races in a Porsche 911 with a helicopter tracking the action.
Husband and wife team Lynda and Tony Hughes from Britain race in their Ford Capri.
"It doesn't matter what your upbringing was, what your tribe was, your educational status or even your age. (Rally racing is) one thing that actually brought everyone together," photographer Mwangi "Mwarv" Kirubi says of Kenya's longstanding relationship with the sport.
The rally is raced "blind," meaning teams are only given the stage routes less than a day before -- so there's no time to inspect the terrain in advance.
Kenyan Eric Bengi and his co-driver Peter Mutuma traverse a stream during the African Rally Championship (ARC) Equator Rally Kenya at Soysambu Conservancy in Nakuru,on April 24, 2021. In 2022 Bengi would become one half of the first all-indigenous Kenyan team to participate in the East African Safari Classic alongside compatriot Mindo Gatimu -- an important moment in the long history of the rally.
YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images
The race was first established as the Coronation Rally in 1953, to honor the soon-to-be crowned Queen Elizabeth II, when Kenya was still part of the British Empire. The rally took place between Kenya, Uganda and part of present-day Tanzania, and was timed to finish during her coronation ceremony. Pictured: W.F.C. Young and L. Baillon in their Ford in the 1959 Coronation Rally.
Courtesy The Standard Media Group
The Coronation Rally changed its name to the East African Safari Rally in 1960. Pictured: 1963 East African Safari winners Nick Nowicki and Paddy Cliffe shake hands over the bonnet of their Peugeot car.
Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
CompetitorsPat Moss-Carlsson and Elizabeth Nystrom exchange a wave with Maasai onlookers during practice for the 1966 East African Safari Rally.