Man v Machine: Omanyala 'battles' World Rally champion Rovanperä

Tuesday June 20 2023
Ferdinand Omanyala

A screen grab of the 'Man vs Machine' race between Africa 100metres record holder Ferdinand Omanyala and world rally champion Kalle Rovanpera. PHOTO | POOL | TOYOTA GRT


Reigning World Rally champion Kalle Rovanperä from Finland and Africa’s fastest man Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala battled on gravel at Athi River on Saturday.

Dubbed “MAN vs MACHINE” battle, Rovanpera, who will be defending his Safari Rally title this week and Omanyala, the Commonwealth Games and Africa 100 metres champion, are seen taking to the blocks in the video doing rounds on social media.

Read: Kenya's National Rally set for next weekend

At the backdrop of sunny weather and Toyota banners ear drops, Rovanpera is seen marvelling at his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 car after taking it for some spin before getting back to the wheels.

Rovanpera, 22, then fastens his safety belt.

On the other hand, Omanyala, 27, donning his Adidas sprinting outfit, digs his spikes into the ground as the pensive sportsmen look at each other, waiting for perhaps the flag-off or the gun shot.


Off they went!

They leave the white dust in their wake shortly before being flagged down, crossing perhaps the “finishing line” almost in a photo-finish.

“What happened when #WRC champion Kalle Rovanperä met Ferdinand Omanyala, the fastest man in Africa!” says a caption accompanying the video clip of the battle between the two fast-rising sportsmen pursuing different disciplines.

“It was a close finish,” said Rovanpera as Omanyala burst into a hearty laughter, embracing each other.

“It was a close finish,” replied Omanyala as he wished Rovanpera best of luck as he defends his Safari Rally crown.

“It was just a photo shoot over a few metres, maybe 30m in Athi River but meeting the world champion was amazing,” said Omanyala in a telephone interview. 

Read: NGUGI: On Omanyala, debate, we can do much better

“It was the first time I was meeting the youngsters, hence a great experience and feeling.”

Their encounter follows Sunday's visit by 2019 World Rally Championship series winner Ott Tanak visit to world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge at his Global Sports Communication Training Camp in Kaptagat, Elgeyo Marakwet.

This year's Safari Rally starts on Thursday with the ceremonial flag-off at Uhuru Park before the cars head to Kasarani for the Super Special Stage.

A total of 23 screws will compete at the WRC category with 11 contesting in the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) of the Safari rally that will end on Sunday in Naivasha.