The recce provided them with the opportunity to decide which sections are foot-flat-to-the-floor and which require a circumspect approach to protect tyres and mechanicals against the punishing rocks.
Thursday’s lunchtime start in the heart of capital city Nairobi, in the presence of President Uhuru Kenyatta, is followed by a gentle appetiser for what is to follow.
The two-at-a-time Super Special Kasarani (4.84km), north-east of the city centre, sends competitors on the 100km journey back to the Kenya Wildlife Training Institute service park in Naivasha.
Video: Safari Rally Kenya - the stages
Friday’s opening leg covers the southern shore of Lake Naivasha. Chui Lodge (13.34km) and Oserian (18.87km) are both in the Oserengoni Wildlife Conservancy which is home to lions, leopards, giraffes, antelope and buffalo.
They sandwich Kedong (32.68km), the longest stage of the rally and a Safari test of old. After service, all three are repeated to bring the day’s total to 129.78km.
Roads further north around Lake Elmenteita host Saturday’s 132.08km of action, the longest leg of the weekend.
It opens with Elmenteita’s (14.67km) oft-used tracks in the Delamere Estate. It is followed by Soysambu (20.33km) and Sleeping Warrior (31.04km), set in the shadow of a hill that resembles a Masai warrior lying down. The trio are driven for a second time after service.
Sunday’s finale spans the north and south sides of Lake Naivasha. Two loops of the forested Loldia (11.33km) to the north and Hell’s Gate (10.56km) to the south sandwich the rocky Malewa (9.71km).
The second pass through Hell’s Gate, which finishes amid stunning scenery at Fishers Tower, forms the Wolf Power Stage with bonus points on offer for drivers and manufacturers. The survivors return to Naivasha for the afternoon finish ceremony.
The 18 stages total 320.19km.
• Full coverage from Safari Rally Kenya will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.