When it comes to rally cars, no one understands the mechanics better than Azar Anwar. The 67 year old is the most seasoned Kenyan rally driver having participated in over 26 rallies, more than other legends like Ian Duncan and Joginder Singh.
Meet Azar Anwar - the engineer behind the next level safari rally car
The A.B.C of building a fast car.
Today, Anwar is working on a special project, he is currently prepping the latest Toyota Yaris for the next Safari Rally.
Pulse Live Kenya got exclusive access to witness the behind the scenes work that goes into building a successful World Rally Championships (WRC) car.
I knew it was the one
"When I first heard of this car, it was launched in January of last year and I read up on it. I knew that I had found the car I've been looking for since the evo 10," Anwar tells us.
The new Gazoo Racing (GR) Yaris is no normal hot hatch. Incorporating knowledge and technology born from World Rally Championships (WRC), to deliver a true sports car feeling every day.
Developed with the experts at Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team, GR Yaris incorporates advanced technology including GR-FOUR, the first sports All Wheel Drive (All Wheel Drive) system in 20 years, and a thrilling 1.6-litre, 3 Cylinder Turbo engine.
From the interview, Anwar who goes by the moniker, Mzee wa Kazi is visibly in love with project. He is undertaking a mammoth task that for the average car enthusiast looks impossible.
"So my vision is by bringing this car, by preparing it here and showing them (Toyota). Look, we can do a proper job. Your car is going to perform in Africa.
Why don't you support our project? Let us make many of them. Toyota, you subsidize not free...subsidize as a promotion to make more of these, not just rally also race," the 3 time Kenya champion explained.
Support from all stakeholders is key
To achieve his goals, Anwar needs support from all sectors; Toyota, Government of Kenya and sponsors. Mzee wa Kazi broke down the cost to roughly Sh.10 million per car, which to him and the average Kenyan is extremely expensive.
"That's my aim on the technical front to get this thing and the parts at a very affordable price from Toyota but focused on motorsport. Second, we need help from the government. We don't need anything from them other than to say allow us duty free.
Toyota will give us the cars. Toyota will give us the parts allow everything. We need seats, we need belts, we need tyres, rims that whatever whatever, allow us to get it. Totally duty and tax free, Anwar explained.
The 67 year old explained that the reason why having a locally manufactured rally car is important is because everything on the technical front will be specifically made and designed to survive in Africa's rough terrain.
In comparison to European built cars, Anwar predicts this car will triumph all. That's why those cars, when they come here, they're always a little scared. Is it going to survive even after the millions of dollars, they've spent on developing that car. Is it going to survive that beating?," said Anwar.
So when will we see the car in action?
After successfully staging this year's WRC Safari Rally, all eyes will be on Anwar, hoping that the car will be ready to compete.
However, Anwar isn't particularly interested on next year's Safari Rally as he aims to build a car fit for any rally event across the world.
"So our project is not just for Kenya, it's for Africa, because the same thing in our situation applies to Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia.
Whoever is into motorsport the top local drivers need a locally built High-Performance car and that's what this is going to be God willing, In my opinion, for the next five, ten years. This will be the car to watch," Anwar concludes.