M-Sport Ford World Rally Team boss Malcolm Wilson has recalled his special memories of the Safari Rally after the event edged a step closer to a WRC return last week.
The classic African fixture, which last featured in the WRC in 2002, will run as a candidate event in 2019 for observation by the FIA and WRC Promoter.
As a team principal, Wilson has enjoyed great success on the Kenyan stages. He guided Colin McRae to the second Safari Rally win of the Scot’s career in 1999 and he also led the Ford-backed team that won the final WRC counter.
He admitted he still has special memories of the event, some 16 years later.
Speaking to WRC.com, Wilson said: “I’ve definitely got very, very fond memories of the Safari Rally. It was the first win for the Focus and of course we won the very last edition when it was in the WRC. It was always one of my favourite events,” he recalled.
“From a team and operations point of view, it was amazing because every single team member played a vital role – as they did in all the rallies back then – but it was probably more so in the Safari because of what was involved in the logistics.
“You would have helicopters to warn drivers of stray animals or oncoming vehicles and then you had technicians in the helicopters if things broke down. It was a massive challenge but very rewarding for everybody involved in the team.”
WRC Promoter intends to propose the Safari’s inclusion in the WRC for an initial three-year period from 2020 to 2022, subject to it achieving high-level standards in key areas such as safety and organisation.
Wilson added: “Okay, the event couldn’t be run in the same fashion as it was, with the open roads and the safety side of things. But on the other hand, there is still the adventure of competing in Kenya.”