From Safari to Sweden: Kimathi’s Junior WRC debut

The McRae name could be back at the forefront of the WRC sooner than you think. McRae Kimathi, who makes his FIA Junior WRC debut on Rally Sweden this week (February 24-27).

The East African was actually named after the legend Colin and still idolizes the Scot today. Ask him what his dream rally car is and he’ll answer bluntly, “L555 BAT – Colin’s 1995 Subaru Impreza.”

Kimathi is a rally man through and through. His own racing career started in 2016 and he has already made a name for himself in Africa.

Sweden’s sub-zero temperatures and snowy roads are a far cry from the searing, fech-fech heat the 27-year-old is experiencing, but he’s up for the challenge.

The 27-year-old was tested in Norway last week

“Actually, I’m so excited, but I’m just scared of the cold,” Kimathi joked. “We’re not really used to this type of weather – it’s normally sunny all day.

“I’ve never been on snow before or anything like that, so it’s a completely new experience. For Sweden, we will just try to learn as much as possible to gain experience. I want to learn the roads and the different surfaces, which will probably help me in the future,” he added.

Learning is the key topic here. Sweden marks Kimathi’s first-ever start in Europe, meaning experience and mileage will come first from the start.

Previous experience in Rally3 could be useful

He does, however, have previous experience in M-Sport Poland’s Ford Fiesta Rally3. He drove the car to the African Junior title in 2021 and has also played at home Safari Rally Kenya – something he hopes will play to his advantage in Greece this year.

“If we want to be at the top level of the sport, we have to ride on all surfaces, so it’s better to start now when I have the chance. The Junior WRC is a great way to start,” he said. he explains.

“The car is really fantastic and so fun to drive. For this year there are a few new upgrades and there will be a bit more horsepower and torque, so it might be more difficult.

McRae Kimathi on the snow: first impressions

“I think the final round in Greece will be a really good indication for me to say, ‘Okay, how far am I behind the other guys?’ a very fast pace, but this one I think will be more similar to Kenya and everyone will have to really take care of their car to complete the whole event.”

And, while Kimathi keeps an eye on his goal of reaching the top of the WRC, for now the focus is on Sweden. As long as he wears a big coat, he’ll be fine.

  • Full coverage of Rally Sweden will be available on WRC+ All Live hereincluding every stage broadcast as you go along with key interviews, reports and analysis from service park experts.

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