Toyota dominated the Kenya rally for the second year in a row and took quadruple victory!
- Toyota won 15 out of 19 stages of the Kenya rally
- Hyundai and Ford struggle with technical problems
- WRC season continues with Rally Estonia
Last weekend, the seventh event of the 2023 World Rally Championship season, the Safari Rally, was run in Kenya. During the four competition days, 19 special stages were run and 355.92 stage kilometres were covered.
Toyota dominated Kenyan roads for the second consecutive year
Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Puma Rally1) won the opening stage of the rally, but Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1) took the lead from the second stage and never looked back. This is even though on Friday the hybrid stopped working, on Saturday their car had a tire problems and on Sunday they had to drive one and a half stage without the tailgate of the Yaris GR Rally1 car. Ogier/Landais, who took their third win of the season in Kenya, overtook second-placed Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1) by 6.7 seconds. Rally Kenya has never been won by such a narrow margin in its 70-year history.
Championship leaders Rovanperä/Halttunen, who had opened the road for others on Friday, finally won six stages. The Finns, who drove very smartly throughout the weekend and were thinking about the Championship points tally, increased their points lead again due to the misfortune of their competitors and will face the next rally with a 41-point lead.
Rounding out the podium in third place were Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1), who battled for the spot for most of the weekend with teammates Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston, securing the Japanese automaker's quadruple win on Kenyan roads for the second year in a row. For Toyota, it was the fourth quadruple victory in the history of the WRC and the third in the Safari Rally. In addition, Toyota made history by never taking quadruple win with the same line-up.
Toyota Gazoo Racing team leader Jari-Matti Latvala:
"I have to say that when I came here, I didn't think that we would be able to repeat last year's result. This proves that our team has done a good job and so have the competing pairs. The name of the game is patience, and they did exactly what I asked them to do. They punished me with a champagne shower on the podium, but I think I deserved it."
Hyundai's result was overshadowed by technical problems
Hyundai, who took a double victory in Sardinia, were not in the same swing in Kenya and their cars were chased by various technical problems on the roads of Safari. Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe's car, who fought for third place on Friday, had a shock absorber break on the sixth staget, and Esapekka Lappi/Janne Fermi, who held third place on Saturday, ended their hopes of a fourth consecutive podium place with a broken drive shaft. Dani Sordo/Candido Carrera, whose Hyundai i20 N Rally1 car had a steering problem on Sunday, took care of the best Hyundai team result, but nevertheless took fifth place behind the Toyotas. Neuville/Wydaeghe initially won the rally-ending PowerStage and finished eighth in the overall standings, but because they used outside assistance in two stages, their result was disqualified.
Ford did not keep up with the competitors
Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja won the opening stage of the Kenyan rally, but broken tires on both Friday and Saturday and the lack of equal speed with the Toyotas meant that the seventh event of the season ended in sixth place. Estonians started the competition with a stage victory, and that's how they ended. Neuville's disqualification meant the first PowerStage win of the season and five extra points for the Estonians.
Pierre-Louis Loubet/Nicolas Gilsoul rally went like an American roller coaster. In addition to driving mistakes, their weekend included broken tires and technical problems. The seventh race of the season ended with seventh place for the M-Sport competitors.
The WRC2 class was won by Kajetan Kajetanowicz / Maciej Szczepaniak (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) for the second year in a row on Kenyan roads.
Results of Kenya rally
1.Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1)
2. Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1) +6.7
3. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1) +2.58,5
4.Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1) +3.23,8
5.Dani Sordo/Candido Carrera (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) +5.05,4
6. Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Puma Rally1) +9.14,4
7. Pierre-Louis Loubet/Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Puma Rally1) +16.15,7
8. Kajetan Kajetanowicz / Maciej Szczepaniak (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +26.33.4 (WRC2 1st place)
WRC season continues in Estonia
The World Rally Championship season has now reached the halfway point, and next the world's best rally drivers will start in Estonia, where the WRC Rally Estonia will be held from July 20 to 23. 53 pairs have registered for the competition, which is part of the WRC calendar for the fourth year. Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen have two victories in Estonia, and they will clear the way for others as the World Championship leader on the opening day in Estonia. The favourites of the home crowd, Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja, have picked up one victory so far, and they want to stand on the top step of the podium on the square of Tartu Town Hall again in front of thousands of Estonian rally fans on Sunday.
See you at Rally Estonia!