Safari Rally Podium | Courtesy Photo

Sebastien Ogier survived all kinds of trials thrown at him to seal a second Kenya Safari Rally with a mastery performance.

That was the icing on what was dominating display by Toyota Gazoo Racing who claimed 1-2-3-4 places in Africa.

From a hybrid issue, three punctures, clipping a tree and losing his car’s rear tailgate, the fesh fesh in the penultimate stage and a stone hitting his windscreen all could not deprive Ogier of securing the Safari rally win.

Sebastien Ogier | Credit: Innocent Mutaawe

His lead was narrowing with every incident but the Frenchman remained in charge to edge his teammate Kalle Rovanpera to the victory by 6.7 seconds. That was the narrowest Safari Kenya Rally win ever. 

“Unbelievable! Look at that,” Ogier said as he was pointing at the cracked windscreen. 

“Even on the Power Stage, I got a stone on the windscreen! We had a lot of issues to face but it could have been a more comfortable rally for us in terms of pace. A lot of misfortune but we brought it home,” he added.

The Safari Rally victory is the third victory this season for the Frenchman in the five starts for his part-time championship with the Toyota Gazoo Racing team.

Kalle Rovanpara wanted it all by fighting till the last stage but he could only secure the second position.

“You always want to fight for the win but we did our best starting first car on the road, so regarding that, I think it’s not fully bad. Good points for the season anyway,” said Rovanpera. 

Kalle Rovanpera | Credit: Innocent Mutaawe

The 22-year-old reigning champion now extends his championship lead to 139 points; 37 points clear from the second-placed Thierry Neuville.

Elfyn Evans beat his teammate Takamato Katsuta to the remaining spot at the podium. 

Elfyn Evans | Credit: Innocent Mutaawe

However, Katsuta’s fourth position completed the Toyota Gazoo Racing 1-2-3-4 finish, a repeat of last year’s Safari Rally Kenya.

Takamoto Katsuta | Credit: Innocent Mutaawe

The only Hyundai crew not on the super rally was Dani Sordo who settled for a fifth position overall.

M-Sport Ford’s Ott Tanak and teammate Pierre-Louis Loubet had the test of Safari suffering punctures that could only leave them to finish the rally in sixth and seventh respectively. 

Ott Tanak | Credit: Innocent Mutaawe

All was not lost for Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville who finished eighth and secured maximum five points from the Power stage to stay second on the championship standings; 37 points behind leader Rovanpera.

In WRC2, Katejan Kajetanowicz claimed a back-to-back Safari Rally victory followed by Martin Prokop who landed his first Safari Rally finish in three attempts.

Kenya’s Carl Tundo completed the WRC2 podium in third and twelfth overall in his  21st Safari Rally start.

Diego Dominguez had a smooth day to secure WRC3 victory after all local crews were knocked down by Safari Rally trails. 

The next round of the World Rally Championship heads back to Europe in Estonia from 20-23 July.

Leave a comment

Please let us know what you think