Kenya, Nairobi, Tom Howard discussed on The Autosport Podcast
Dedicated to rally, where we put all of our content there, and occasionally we crop up here as well in the auto sport channel. When there's a big thing to talk about, which there is today because we've sent our man Tom Howard to rally safari. It's going to be a wonderful event in Kenny around 6 of this season. The world rally championship sees a return to an event that was a regular from 1972 to 2002 back after a 19 year hiatus, though, and Tom welcome along to the podcast. If you can just tell us, you know, about your journey. Oh, we keep hearing about his travel chaos in the newspapers. And what it's like where you are and where you're working from, just set the scene for us. Firstly, we've got to say thanks for this opportunity to be able to actually go to cover an event like this. So a lot of strings have been pulled for us to be here in the first place. So those people that know who they are should receive some thanks. But firstly, yeah, it's quite a long journey. I haven't had any sleep for 24 hours. So I'm very tired, but yeah, so flew out from Heathrow to Cairo last night. And then got a plane from Cairo through the night to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. And then got another flight from Tanzania this morning to Nairobi in Kenya. So I landed in Nairobi about 8 a.m. Kenya time. So then we had a two and a half hour road trip to naivasha, which is where the rally is based. So I've seen quite a lot today. Some things I quite confronting, some things quite spectacular. But yeah, it's been a bit of a long journey, but we are here and we are here to cover safari rally. I can see you're working from some sort of, it looks like an office. I mean, you're on your own in some sort of room. What facility do they build in the middle of the desert? So we've got like we're actually in a wildlife resort near Lake naivasha, which is a holiday destination, so we say it's quite a touristy area. Lots of hotels, lots of safari trips that you can go on. So we're in a sort of a wildlife resort where they've constructed all these temporary buildings to house all the rally cars this weekend. Near the town of nova. So it's a small town, not two hours north of Nairobi. But we're in quite a extensive metal structure with a tarpaulin roof and I've cheekily nabbed the FIA office, which is a little bit quieter than the media center to be able to do this podcast. So thanks to Vera, if I media delegate. So let me borrow her office. So we should be doing this in vision because your Wi-Fi connection is rock solid. It looks great. It's nice and crisp. It's better than when you have 5 minutes down the road is who sets all this up before we actually get into talking about the rally just for our listeners who might be interested in like the infrastructure of a rally event in safari rally Kenya. Is this the FIA that build all this or WRC and the promoters? And the safari rally organizers. I think a point that we should make here is this is a really serious event here. This is the biggest sport and event they have in Kenya. It's bigger than any football event or marathon or anything else. So everything is pulled into this to make it a spectacular as possible. And I have to say, being a hugely impressed with the Internet connectivity and the service park and everything so far. I've had my own personal driver, take me around everywhere today. So called Nelson, who should get a shout out. He was a very, very nice fella. So yeah, this is a serious event. The president will be here tomorrow of Kenya to oversee it. And this is a key part of his sort of manifesto, I guess. He was a very key part of his plan to bring this event back to Kenya as it has been a way for a while, obviously came back last year. But this was all a very key part of their sort of political strategy because this is not only a sporting event. It's all about tourism. And it has such a long tradition, as you said, at the beginning there. So it's a very, very special event for Kenya. Colin McRae's last win was there. It's been won by Richard burns and Tommy McKinnon. It did come back last year, but a kind of a legendary event for those people who might not be super into their rally. What's it like for speed and the location and the kind of surfaces they'll be on. So this will be one of the toughest on the calendar and this will be even tougher than it was last year as the crews have been saying today in the press conference. But these are high speed gravel stages, very open stages. So you're out in the middle of now where really lots of wildlife so they'll be giraffes, buffalo, elephants, zebra, so the crews will come across all sorts of different animals on there and their ways through the stages, obviously they try to clear the stages before they run through to make sure it's as clear as possible, but you can't really legislate for any zebras running around at the erratic. But yes, they're very fast, open stages. And the graph is quite soft and sandy in places. So the car is actually sort of dig in quite a lot. And if you're not careful, you can actually get stuck as calorie roughen Perry did last year. So you get stuck in this sort of quicksand like gravel, which is called fresh fish. Is the local term. And so it's quite an interesting combination of you can not go flat out on this event. There are too many areas where you need to be careful and preserve the cars. It's so rough in places. So it's really going to be a case of who measures it the best in terms of going flat out when they know they can, but also making sure the car is safe and healthy. So you reach the finish. It's going to be a real rally of attrition. Yeah, organizers know what they're doing in terms of clearing the way. But how do they clear the way of the animals and to try and keep them clear of the cars? In the old days, every crew used to have its own helicopter run ahead, but they don't have like these days. So there is a helicopter that goes through and a double zero car, which goes through to make sure the stage is clear before anyone comes in. But one of the tools that some of the teams run to sort of help scare wildlife away so they don't have any trouble with they run a special flashing light system on their headlights. So they're constantly flashing, which is hopefully which hopes to catch the eye of any animal and sort of warn them that there's a car coming. So there's some little clever little tools I have, but largely speaking, there isn't a great deal you can do, but the organizers do the best I can to make sure that there is no dramas. The last rally out was a warm one, but what are the conditions going to be like for the drivers and inside the cars, these new hybrid cars? Yes, so in Sardinia, they ran some tweaked modifications to the cars to combat this increased temperatures in the cockpit. Sardinia was incredibly hard, 40°. We're not looking like we're going to exceed 25 here in Kenya. So it's going to be a lot easier, shall we say on the cruise, not no less tough, but the temperatures won't be as high. There is also a threat of rain on every day. So which could also throw a spanner in the works. So yeah, the conditions are very mixed. It's going to be a real challenge for all of them. Kelly Robin perra arrives there with a 50 point lead over Thierry Neville. Tell us about the form going into this event. So yeah, Kelly obviously had a quiet event last time in Sardinia, which was going to be a tough one for him to open the road, always going to be very difficult for him there. With the way that the roads are, so dusty and tight and compact..