East Africa's Safari Rally started as a celebration of the 1952 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The event was on the calendar from the World Rally Championship's (WRC) inaugural season in 1973, all the way up until 2002, when a lack of funding put an end to this legendary African race.
The 2002 Safari Rally, the 50th, was won by Colin McRae and Nicky Grist in a Ford Focus RS WRC 02 (seen above).
In order to finally bring WRC back to Africa, the series just signed an agreement with the Kenyan government’s sports ministry and the FIA, which has the Safari Rally run as a candidate event in 2019. Kenya hopes that after a successful trial, WRC will include the Safari for an initial three-year period from 2020 to 2022.
However, don't expect the modern Safari to be just like the old one. As WRC managing director Oliver Ciesla explains, "traditional open-road competitive sections have been replaced by smoother special stages in private estates and conservancies, and a comprehensive safety plan is in place to support a rally organized to the current WRC format."
Smoother special stages? That's a luxury the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo of Tommi Mäkinen and Risto Mannisenmäki didn't have back in 2001...