Why no prize money for WRC winner Rovanpera

by MMC
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Why no prize money for WRC winner Rovanpera


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2024 WRC Safari Rally Kenya winner Kalle Rovanpera and co-navigator Jonne Halttunen pose for a photo atop their Toyota Gr Yaris after winning the race at Hells Gate in Naivasha on March 31, 2024. PHOTO | BONIFACE MWANGI | NMG

Kalle Rovanpera received a wooden sculpture worth Sh25,000 after winning the 2024 WRC Safari Rally and celebrated her victory with non-alcoholic champagne.

Kenyan fans are wondering how anyone can risk their lives and spend so much energy on a wooden sculpture. It has never been revealed what the prize money is for the Safari Rally, unlike other local events like the Magical Kenya Open which offers the winner $425,000 (56 million shillings) of the 2.5 million prize pool of dollars (330 million shillings), Kip Keino Classic Continental Tour. and city marathon races.

For starters, no prize money is offered at the Safari Rally or national championship events. Instead, one expects to pay between Sh15,000 and Sh50,000 as entry fee. Either you have money or you should look for sponsors, because motorsport is all about business. But motorsport at the highest level is like any other profession, where workers receive a monthly salary and performance bonuses. They are encouraged to see endorsements and individual business sponsorships.

Read: WRC Safari Rally: It’s time to reduce carbon emissions

But unlike other professional sports, rally drivers’ pay is never made public. It’s an agreement between them and their teams. However, from time to time, sponsors reveal their financial worth.

For example, Safaricom M-Pesa Global announced a Sh20 million sponsorship to enable Ford driver Adrien Fourmaux to display the M-Pesa logo during the Safari and 10 other events this year.

However, Colin McRae’s departure from Subaru to Ford reportedly cost Ford £6 million (Sh999 million) in wages in 1999, the last publicly reported salary for a rally driver.

Since its inception, the Safari Rally was not about money. The Safari was born in a bar in Limuru when the two gentlemen Eric Cecil and Vincent Niel decided to do a long distance event for fun.

Subsequently, local car franchises adopted the Safari as a marketing tool for their products and initially companies like Marshals East Africa and DT Dobie gave their workshop managers vehicles to drive in the Safari as part of their marketing strategies.

But gradually, drivers like Shekhar Mehta, Joginder Singh and Vic Preston Junior were identified for such assignments before being stopped by manufacturer teams who started paying them money.

So how much does a top rally driver earn without awards?

Read: Company stopped operating Safari Rally Tower

A website (Rally Sports) suggests that 2023 Safari champion Sebastien Ogier is one of the highest paid with an annual salary of $2.5 million (Sh330 million). Thierry Neuville is at 260 million shillings and Sébastien Loeb at 195 million shillings.

Patrick Njiru, at his peak, earned Sh8.5 million per year from BAT sponsorship between 1995 and 1997.

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