The Kobil Rally of Tanzania, which counts towards the African championship’s sixth event for the season, gets underway in Dar es Salaam on Friday after its official launch by the Automobile Association of Tanzania yesterday.
The event covers a total of 498 competitive kilometers divided into two legs starting on Saturday and finishing on the subsequent Sunday at the Mlimani City.
A total of 25 drivers have enrolled for the event as declared by the chief executive officer for the Automobile Association of Tanzania, AAT Yusuf Ghor yesterday.
Out of the big field of drivers nine are foreigners that include holder James Whyte from Zimbabwe.
Whyte was yet to arrive by the time the launch was held yesterday at the Maelezo Auditorium in the city.
The rest of the drivers are domestic ones who have made the biggest turn up since the event suffered low turn up four years ago.
The clerk of the course Satinder Birdi Singh said it has been the most attended rally in terms of domestic entrants which highlights the new wave of awareness and competitive spirit among the home drivers.
However, the entire fleet of drivers have been cordially been given strong incentives running from 200 litres of fuel and free entry fees to mention just a few.
The competitive spirit is now high as confirmed by the AAT’s president Nizar Jivani who was accompanied by Kobil Tanzania’s managing director Fabrice Ezavi, the main sponsors for the fourth year running.
The launch comprised a huge congregation of sponsors and some of the drivers, particularly foreigners who have arrived in readiness for the annual continental rally in the country.
Other sponsors besides Kobil who were represented during the launch include the National Insurance of Tanzania, Mlimani City and CMC Motors to list a few.
The safety issue came into limelight as Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police
Mohamed Mpinga assured the public with regard to security measures to be deployed during the two days event.
Mpinga said most of stewards who will be in charge during the rally attended the three-day long FIA-sanctioned high profile safety seminar held in Tanga last May.
He said police force will be deployed throughout the duration of the event to ensure smooth staging of the continental rally.
To emphasize the safety measures, the AAT president Nizar Jivani said already some leaflets and announcements have been made throughout the route where drivers will use during the rally.
Jivani said Tanzania scooped high marks in terms of safety from the continental rally organizers for the past year and the same might prevail this time as well.
He said Tanzania edged the rest of the East African countries for staging the safest event free of accidents or injuries to either drivers or spectators.
The Kobil rally of Tanzania is the sixth out of the eight lined up for continental drivers for the closing season. After this weekend’s show, the other African legs will be staged in Rwanda in October and Madagascar two months later.
Drivers would earn points for both the continental event as well as national championship for the domestic competitors.
The weekend event is expected to draw huge crowds as Dar es Salaam has not staged a rally of this magnitude since last year when Zimbabwean Whyte triumphed after edging Ugandan Emmanuel Kato by a whisker.
The rally would see veteran Kirit Pandya who is leading the pack of Tanzania drivers in the national championship race on the spotlight to shrug off pressure from others who are trailing hi closely.
Ghor assured fans that preparations for the weekend event are complete as the route has been thoroughly surveyed and confirmed to be suitable for the showdown.
Zambian Jasmeen Muna Singh is the only lady driver who has registered to take part in the event as she replaces his father who won the 2009 edition.