Kenyan female rally driver, Maxine Wahome, has been named as the LG/Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK) sports personality of the month for June.
The ambitious Kenyan lady driver accomplished the distinction after becoming the first African woman to win the WRC3 category at the WRC Safari Rally Kenya in June.
Wahome’s victory was all the more amazing given that she had never driven a Ford Fiesta Rally3 vehicle on gravel before the legendary Kenyan event.
“My goal in the Safari was just to learn the car more and day by day improve on my speed and driving lines, but I am glad I delivered the all-important win incidentally on my second appearance of the iconic event,” said Wahome.
Her victory catapulted the 26-year-old to not just national but global renown, with her accomplishments acknowledged by none other than seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, who reposted Motorsport.com’s article commemorating the global milestone.
“It’s such a great feeling to be crowned the monthly winner more so in a field where Kenya’s long and middle distance runners have reigned supreme globally,” she said.
The year 2022 has so far been a season of potential for female drivers, with co-driver Isabelle Galmiche steering veteran Sebastien Loeb to the season-opening WRC Monte Carlo triumph earlier this year, the last time a female driver was part of a rally-winning overall crew.
Before Galmiche, it had been 25 years since Fabrizia Pons, an Italian lady navigator, had done the same thing for Piero Liatti.
It was Wahome’s chance to make history this time. She ended the long wait by being the first female driver to win an official WRC support category since Isolde Holdereid in the Group N Cup!
Maxine beat over numerous other contenders for the monthly award, including Rugby Driftwood 7s MVP Daniel Taabu and African 100m record holder Ferdinand Omanyala, who ran 9.93 seconds to win gold in the men’s 100m at the Senior Africa Athletics Championship in Reduit, Mauritius.
Maxine earned a customized plaque and a Sh. 85,000 LG Intelligent Washing Machine for winning the June award.
“Wednesday of the rally week was my first time in the car. I normally drive a Subaru Impreza N12. The only testing I got with the car was on Tarmac, which is completely different to Safari.”
Wahome’s rally nearly came to an end on Friday when she was stranded by an engine control unit malfunction on the penultimate test, but the teenager was able to resume on Saturday and retake the lead when her competitors faltered.
Wahome joins a growing list of 2022 sports figures who have won the monthly award, including tennis star Angela Okutoyi in January, Junior WRC’s McRae Kimathi in February, Nagoya Marathon winner Ruth Chepng’etich in March, Boston Marathon men’s winner Evans Chebet in April, and national volleyball team lady star Sharon Chepchumba in May.
LG Electronics East Africa Marketing Manager Changhyun Kim congratulated Maxine on her achievement.
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“LG Electronics East Africa is proud to be associated with Kenya’s talented sports personalities who continue to excel both in Kenya and overseas.”
“As a corporate entity, we are glad that this award continues to reward excellence over and above positioning juniors and women athletes as the future of sport in the country.”