Kenyan Rally Drivers Decry Discrimination In Just Concluded WRC Championship

WRC Safari Rally

A section of Kenyan rally drivers have detailed the ugly drama, madness and total confusion which characterized the chaotic prize-giving ceremony at the just-concluded WRC Safari Rally. 

Outraged and deeply offended, the drivers say they experienced what they term as extreme racism and discrimination and were treated as second-class drivers in their home country and with little respect from the top WRC honchos and leadership. 

While it is every driver’s pride to go up the podium, get a round of applause and receive an award from an esteemed guest (in this case, the President) the drivers have now revealed that the entire event was a shambolic mess which thoroughly dehumanized them, disenfranchised them and made them feel badly dishonoured.

Three days after the conclusion of the rally, Kenyan drivers Joe Kariuki, Andrew Muiruri and Issa Amwari have now opened up on the total discriminatory madness which unfolded at the Service Park. 

The drivers have laid the blame squarely at the feet of the WRC/KNRC top officials who they say treated them in a manner that was absolutely undignified, thoroughly unprofessional and a manner which lacked the most basic human decency. 

“It was a total shame at the podium. Soon as they had conferred the awards to these big shots, alongside the President and all the media present, we were left to scramble amongst ourselves for awards. It was total chaos – you cannot believe that my navigator John Ngugi and I were left stranded on stage as a female usher passed our award to us,” Joe lamented.

According to Joe, who was ranked at Number 6 and was driving a left-hand Subaru N14, the treatment meted on some of the Kenyan drivers was totally unwarranted and uncalled for considering that these drivers went through the same rigorous practice and paid the same amount of money required to be part of the motoring sport.

“We went through all the required regulations and passed all the tests. We were at the practice, we paid the money any driver was required to pay to enter the competition. I don’t understand how, after the visiting drivers had been awarded, we were just left stranded, confused at the podium,” he said.

Joe also said that, being a homegrown talent himself, he would have been happy to receive his award from, at the very least, the area Governor, Hon. Susan Kihika – but, sadly, even she was nowhere to be seen when it was his time to hit the podium. 

“I’m born and bred in Naivasha. When we arrived here, hundreds of my Naivasha fans came out screaming my name. And after it all, I have to receive my award from a casual model? Not even, at least, from my area Governor!? What happened to recognising homegrown talent? ” Joe asked. 

On his part, Issa Amwari, a Kenyan who emerged position four in the WRC/KNRC stage and was driving a Mitsubishi lancer Evo X, says that it was quite humiliating to have to be given an award by casual officials and not, at least, the rally’s CEO.

“It was a good thing to have the President and the top officials at the Service Park. It would have been better to have him, or at least, some top rally official award us. That was not the case. I got my award after all the big guests had left – I was basically awarded by my own navigator! ” he said. 

The drivers say their awarding ceremony was more of a contemptuous charade which looked more like a terrible comedy skit orchestrated by the thankless WRC big shots. 

“It was pure madness! We were left to award ourselves with no official present! All had left! We were actually awarded by a confused model who didn’t even want to be in the photo! It was like a scene from a terrible Nigerian movie!” Joe Kariuki’s navigator John Ngugi said. 

Another driver Andrew Muiruri has also blasted the prejudice shown to other drivers after he and his compatriots were left to fight heavy traffic on their last lap to the Service Park, battling with crowds and other motorists, for over 45 minutes. 

“As we were leaving Hell’s Gate, on our way to the final spot, we realized that the road had been opened up and now, we had to struggle with crazy traffic as we fought to reach Service Park,” he said. 

“Ordinarily, the road should be closed off until all drivers have cleared out but after the top drivers with better cars had crossed that area, they no longer manned the road leaving us struggling with exceedingly heavy traffic like ordinary drivers. We had to overlap as we feared our fuel might run out, ” he said.

Despite performing exemplarily, the angry drivers, who are some of the finest rally drivers in Kenya, say they now feel demoralised and also add they still have a bone to pick with the top authorities at the WRC.

“This is a matter we won’t take lightly. We’re some of the finest drivers in town. It took alot to get to where we were, to be able to get to the podium. And then you’re treated like a second option? In your own country? This is not the way to run the WRC in Kenya! Absolutely!” an angered Ngugi said.

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