(for full entry list, click here)
The Pole will drive a Ford Fiesta Rally3 run by M-Sport Poland on the gruelling African encounter, which returns to the FIA World Rally Championship following a 19-year absence. He will become the oldest competitor to start a WRC round in championship history.
Zasada’s last rally was the 1997 Safari when he finished 12th alongside his wife, Ewa, in a Mitsubishi Lancer. That was his eighth start in the Kenyan classic and his ninth will be no less competitive.
“He is not going there just to drive through,” promised M-Sport Poland managing director Maciej Woda. “Sobielsaw has great memories of the Safari and wanted to go back to the rally to see what it looks like now.”
Zasada finished second in the 1972 Safari driving a Porsche 911S, in a rally won by Hannu Mikkola.
During a long and distinguished career, he won the European Rally Championship three times in 1966, 1967 and 1971 and finished runner-up on three more occasions. Much of his career pre-dated the launch of the FIA World Rally Championship in 1973 and the holder of the European title was regarded as the de facto world champion.
He will test his Fiesta for the first time in Poland on Wednesday.
“He was thinking about doing the Safari last year but obviously it didn’t happen due to Covid-19. He is a very active person and fit for his age so I really hope everything will go well for him,” Woda added.
Video: Safari Rally Kenya
The pair have a long history. As a teenager growing up in Poland with his sights set on a motor racing future, Woda tried to contact Zasada, who went on to become one of the country’s most successful businessmen after his driving career ended.
“I kept telephoning him twice a day, every day, for five months,” Woda recalls. “After five months I finally got to meet him and he gave me some great advice.”
The four-day Naivasha-based event has 58 entries.
Adrien Fourmaux will drive M-Sport Ford’s second Fiesta World Rally Car for the third time instead of Teemu Suninen. The Frenchman finished fifth on a stunning debut in Croatia before claiming sixth last weekend in Portugal.
Lorenzo Bertelli starts his second WRC round of the year in another M-Sport Ford-entered Fiesta, while Dani Sordo has been given the nod in Hyundai Motorsport’s third i20 World Rally Car.
Suninen reverts to a Fiesta Rally 2 in WRC2, where he will face opposition from Toksport duo Andreas Mikkelsen and Marco Bulacia, as well as Martin Prokop’s similar Fiesta.
Kenyan drivers form the bulk of the six-car WRC3 field, headed by Onkar Rai and Carl Tundo, who finished second overall in 2019. Both drive Volkswagen Polo GTIs. Also on the start list is 2019 winner Baldev Chager in a Mitsubishi Lancer EvoX.
The full entry list can be viewed here:
Images: Zasada Group