NAIROBI, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Norwegian driver Mads Ostberg is the first foreigner to confirm participation in this year's Safari Rally, which counts as part of the African Rally Championships.
The former Citroen driver said competing in Kenya will give him an edge ahead of the event being reinstated in the World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2020.
The Safari Rally will be contested as a candidate event for the WRC in 2019 before it is confirmed as one of the 14-leg global premier circuit in 2020.
Ostberg has ended his contract with WRC's Citroen Racing team and is yet to confirm which car model he will use in the Safari Rally. However, prior to the Safari Rally, he will contest the Otago Rally in New Zealand.
"I will consider any option involving an opportunity to be behind the wheel of a rally car," Ostberg said on Saturday.
Mark Tufte, who is in charge of the Rallying in Africa initiative, said Ostberg has confirmed he will compete in the Safari Rally.
"I asked Ostberg if he is interested in racing the Safari Rally 2019 in July. In reply, he said he is really interested. We come from Norway, it was easier for me to ask him if he would be interested to do the Safari," said Tufte.
"It was his first confirmed event as he had lost his seat among the Citroen Racing team. So I told him the Safari could be the second one. Even when he was dealing his contract in Rallycross with Skoda, he got back to me many times to ask about the Safari Rally. Unfortunately, they couldn't come to an agreement. Nevertheless, all is not lost," added Tufte.
The Safari Rally will be staged from July 4-9 in Nairobi and Naivasha in closed roads. It was part of the WRC until 2002 before FIA axed it from the World Series.