Coronavirus: Return of Kenya Safari Rally postponed until 2021

Colin McRae at the Safari Rally in 2002

The Kenyan Safari Rally will be postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, delaying its return to the World Rally Championship (WRC) after nearly two decades away.

The decision was taken after discussions between Kenya's government, the WRC promoter and the International Automobile Association (FIA) which had been taking place since March.

A new date for the race, which last featured in the WRC in 2002 and was scheduled for mid-July, is yet to be announced.

"Postponing the event to 2021 was not a simple decision to make, however, we are cognisant of the present global challenges and assure that the Safari Rally will mark a significant part of our country's history," Kenyan sports minister Amina Mohamed said in a statement.

The first three legs of the WRC season took place between January and mid-March with Toyota's French driver Sebastien Ogier leading the competition.

The Mexico rally was cut short by a day due to the virus while the Argentine (April 23-26) and Italian (June 4-7) races are yet to be rescheduled after being postponed.

The Portugal leg of the championship was scrapped at the end of last month after having already been postponed once from its original 21-24 May date.

The current season is scheduled to resume in Finland in August, but a postponement to September or October is possible with organisers re-examining the situation in June.

Colin McCrae won the last Safari Rally in 2002 - his final WRC victory - before it was crossed off the world circuit due to concerns over safety, organisation and finances.