WRC Safari Rally safety plan in top gear


WRC Safari Rally safety plan in top gear
Joe Muchiri and Riyaz Ismail in action with their Toyota Levin

In Summary

  • Organizers of the WRC Safari Rally have announced that safety marshals for the championships will be subjected to at least three training sessions before the event as preparations hit top gear.
  • The event is scheduled for June 24-27.
  • Chief Safety Officer Norris Ongalo says the training will emphasize on their basic role which is to "Inform, Direct and Control spectators’, medical personal and other officials.

Organizers of the WRC Safari Rally have announced that safety marshals for the championships will be subjected to at least three training sessions before the event as preparations hit top gear.

The event is scheduled for June 24-27.

Chief Safety Officer Norris Ongalo says the training will emphasize on their basic role which is to “Inform, Direct and Control spectators’, medical personal and other officials.

Ongalo also said they are finalizing on the procurement of rescue equipment which is a requirement by the international motorsport body Federation Internationale de l’Automobile( FIA).

Upon receipt of the equipment, the Organizing Committee will also earmark on training the paramedics, to be equipped for technical intervention.

“The subjects could be spectators, media personnel, other officials etc. We have started the first round of trainings and the marshals are quite engaged. They are realising that the task ahead is massively important but achievable. These crop of men and women are brilliant,” Ongalo narrates.

In terms of planning, the Safari Rally safety initiative has numerous things happening behind the scenes.

“We are preparing the Safety Master Plan for the event. This is a document that gives details of activities to be carried out on the stages. It is as detailing activities at every kilometre. This includes number of marshals and their exact posting, the medical and rescue intervention plan which include both road and air evacuations, the hospitals available and what trauma facilities they have etc.

We are also finalising on the procurement of rescue equipment which is a requirement by FIA. Upon receipt of this equipment, we shall be training our paramedics and the technical intervention teams.’

Ongalo says the essence is to use the forthcoming FIA Africa Rally Championship event (Equator Rally) as the dress rehearsal for the WRC Safari Rally. “Therefore, as we prepare for WRC, we have our eyes on ARC as well,” he quips, adding.

“We shall continue with training programs of marshals, National Youth Service, Medics and Rescue teams until the last week to ARC; and resume the same until the last week to WRC.”

“We have over 470 civilian marshals recruited from a pool of over 800 applicants. We have marshals coming from as far afield as Malindi, Kisumu, Kirinyaga and Turkana. An interesting facet of this activity is the fact that 35% of the recruited marshals are women. We also will be incorporating over 1,300 marshals from the National Youth Service. In total, we are looking at a workforce of over 1,900.”

Kenya ran a WRC candidate event in 2019 and the difference this year will be the elaborate preparation given the global status of the fabled event.”

“Remember we were ready to run the event in 2020 before Covid happened. However, the team have been working round the clock to ensure every little detail is taken care of. We shall prepare a detailed spectator manual to guide the spectators on where to safely watch the rally.”

Kenyan Organisers more informed

On the same note, Motorsport UK instructor Dom Saunders believes Kenyan officials are now more aware of planning and getting along very well with the nitty gritty of organization. .

“They are a lot more aware of what is going on and have had better communication and planning. What we need to do is to involve Stage Commanders a lot more in that planning process.. Hopefully, what they have seen and learnt in the training events, they have to be involved in the planning aspect of the sport and they will understand that better.’

Saunders reckons that the magnitude of planning in a WRC is immense and requires early planning.

He said: ‘The key difference between running a rally and a WRC is that WRC is not a rally. It’s a television product, it is sold. The WRC circus when it arrives in town, it’s a big big animal and has lots of pressure that we have to make sure we involve stakeholders through and through. The key message is that we are going to get on with planning, we are going to build teams, we are going to make sure that there is a smooth running between all teams operating.”

Multiple Kenya Rally Champion and 2006 Safari Rally winner Azar Anwar who attended the seminar reckons that the ongoing FIA officials’ training initiative will be  key to an amazing WRC event in June.

Kenya ran a WRC candidate event in 2019 and the difference this year will be the elaborate preparation given the global status of the fabled event.

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