rally.ie logo

Kenya Safari Rally (WRC) - 24-27 Jun 21

Posted: June 26, 2021 4:54 PM - 1258 Hits

Round 6 - 2021 World Rally Championship

Live Results (Safari 2021) Also available at: rally-base results & ewrc-results.com
News: www.wrc.com
Event Website: Safari Rally

First stage each day - Times are Irish/UK (Kenya is 2 hours ahead)
Shakedown Wed - 11:01

SS1 Thu - 12:08
SS2 Fri - 06:09
SS8 Sat - 06:08
SS14 Sun - 05:26

WRC STARS SET TO LOCK HORNS AT THE SAFARI

Posted: June 24, 2021 2:43 PM

The world’s leading rally stars will lock horns at this weekend’s Safari Rally Kenya, the most famous rally in the world returning to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar for the first time since 2002.

The last time the Safari graced the WRC was the year that nine-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb recorded his first event win in Germany. The Frenchman went on to win 78 further rallies in a long and illustrious career, only to be replaced at the helm of the WRC by the defending and seven-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier.

Ogier only hit the WRC spotlight after his debut in 2008 in Mexico and is now one of the most experienced of the leading drivers, alongside Spaniard Dani Sordo and team-mate Elfyn Evans.

The Kenyan event is new to all the Priority 1 drivers and Ogier faces the unenviable task of opening the road on Friday, courtesy of his performance in Sardinia and his 11-point series lead over Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Evans.

The rigours and demands of the special stages will offer a fresh challenge to all the teams, with rocky and arid terrain set to test man and machine to the limit and unpredictable weather conditions adding to the perils and uncertainties. Testing is prohibited outside Europe and Toyota used a recent Spanish shakedown to best prepare for the African debut of the Yaris WRC.

Ogier has claimed three wins so far this season in Monte-Carlo, Croatia and Sardinia and showed on the last event that it is possible to win from running first on the road.

The Frenchman said: “I am always excited to discover a new challenge in my career and I believe this rally will be very different from anything I have done before. We’ve heard a lot and are going to set our targets a little differently. The way we drive nowadays in the WRC is by pushing the limits all of the time, but Kenya will be much more about trying to survive the rally without trouble.”

Outright speed may not be a wise strategy on the Safari – a high rate of attrition has always been prevalent on the East African classic – and a cautious and sensible approach may pay dividends at the end of the three days and 18 special stages.

Evans added: “Kenya is a big unknown as none of the current drivers have been here to do an event before. I suspect it’s not going to be the smoothest event on the calendar and it could be a big test for the car and the crew as well.”

While Ogier and Evans are likely to spearhead the Toyota challenge in Masai country, Takamoto Kasuta has taken three sixth places and a pair of fourths this season and could well challenge for his first podium. The dream would be to follow in the footsteps of Yoshio Fujimoto, the only ever Japanese Safari winner way back in 1995 in a Toyota Celica Turbo.

Finland’s Kalle Rovanperä is also due a good result after starting the season strongly in France and Finland and then suffering two catastrophic displays in Portugal and Sardinia.

The Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team trails Toyota by 49 points in the Manufacturers’ Championship and needs to stem the flow of points before the dam bursts completely. The team tested in southern Portugal a few weeks ago to prepare as best they could for Kenya.

Thierry Neuville has been the WRC bridesmaid on too many occasions and currently trails Ogier by 29 points. He has four third places and a disappointing outing in Portugal under his belt this season, but has shown the i20 to be a very competitive car from the outset and badly needs to win the Safari to reduce the points’ deficit.

Neuville said: “I think everyone is excited to have the Safari on the calendar. I have heard stories from drivers who had the chance to come here in the past. It will be a different experience for us, as the rallying has evolved over time. I don’t know what is waiting for us, but I hope to come back with a big trophy. We’ll be seeing zebras, giraffes and elephants. It is going to be fun!”

Team-mate Ott Tänak has also suffered his fair share of cruel luck this season. The 2019 World Rally Champion crashed out of the Monte-Carlo Rally and then followed that setback with a win in the Arctic Rally and fourth in Croatia. But, like Rovanperä, the Estonian had cruel luck in Portugal and Sardinia and came away from those European gravel rallies with just Power Stage bonus points to his name. He is 57 points adrift of Ogier after five rallies.

Tänak said: “Safari Rally Kenya is a new event for me and Africa is a place I have never been. I have seen some footage from previous rallies. It is one of those events where, to finish first, first you have to finish. It seems to be a wild, wild place.”

Spaniard Dani Sordo is the most experienced driver in the WRC field in Kenya and he again gets his hands on the third Hyundai. Fifth in Monte-Carlo and runner-up in Portugal, Sordo has the pace and guile to win the Safari and follow in the footsteps of the legendary Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who claimed the top step of the podium in 1992.

The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team has endured mixed fortunes this season, with the performances of Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux the highlights of five events that have only earned 82 points in the Manufacturers’ standings. Ford won the last Safari Rally to be a round of the WRC, albeit 19 years ago, in 2002.

A fresh focus for Greensmith and a new co-driver in Ulster veteran Chris Patterson saw the Briton set several top four stage times in Portugal and a fine fifth place. He may well need to curb some of his natural aggression in Kenya to survive some of the most demanding terrain on the planet.

Fourmaux will also be driving on an African rally for the first time. He is two points behind his Blue Oval team-mate and holds 10th in the Drivers’ Championship.

“The event is going to be very different from the last one,” said M-Sport team principal Richard Millener. “We are going to take a sensible approach. We had an electrical issue (Greensmith’s car) in Sardinia but we’re on that now and it won’t happen again. Otherwise we know we have a strong car.”

Young Oliver Solberg replaces Pierre-Louis Loubet in the Hyundai 2C Competition i20, while Lorenzo Bertelli of Italy wheels out a third M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC.

Wednesday

Tomorrow morning competitors complete their stage reconnaissance before the shakedown takes centre stage from 13.01hrs through to 15.00hrs for P1 drivers.

The Loldia shakedown test of 5.4km is situated around 30km from the service park and continues through until 17.30hrs, with several drivers attending the FIA pre-event press conference via Zoom, starting at 16.00hrs (15.00 CET).

Rally champion returns to confront punishing Safari – aged 91

Posted: June 24, 2021 2:41 PM

One of rallying’s greats from yesteryear returns to tackle the iconic Safari Rally Kenya (24 - 27 June) – at the age of 91.

Three-time European champion Sobieslaw Zasada will face off against drivers almost 70 years his junior at the gruelling four-day African classic, which returns to the FIA World Rally Championship after 19 years away.

Zasada will become the oldest competitor to start a WRC round. His greatest successes pre-dated the championship’s 1973 launch when the holder of the European title was regarded as de facto world champion.

The Pole is undaunted by one of the world’s toughest rallies. He faces 320km of competition across the vast Great Rift Valley plains near Lake Naivasha – home to zebras, giraffes, antelope and wildebeest.

“Of course, this is a huge challenge and my goal is purely to reach the finish line,” he admitted.

Fast gravel roads will send speeds soaring towards 200kph in places. In others, cars will be reduced to near walking pace as drivers pick a cautious route over rock-strewn tracks.

And with Kenya still in its wet season, torrential downpours can transform dry and dusty special stages into glutinous mudbaths and raging torrents in minutes.

During a distinguished career Zasada won the European title in 1966, 1967 and 1971 and finished runner-up on three more occasions. He was an official driver for Steyr Puch, Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

He has tackled the Safari eight times previously, finishing second in 1972 in a Porsche 911S. His last competitive drive was 24 years ago when he finished 12th in Kenya alongside his wife, Ewa, in a Mitsubishi Lancer.

“I’ve always found the Safari to be a fantastic rally. I’m going back because I’m very curious to see what this rally looks like in its present form. It’s about the challenge,” enthused Zasada, whose grandson, Daniel Chwist, is also on the entry list.

Zasada will steer a Ford Fiesta Rally3 managed by M-Sport Poland. The Safari will be the biggest test yet for a new-category model which made its WRC debut just two months ago in Croatia.

His Safari memories date back to 1969, when the rally was very different to the current format. Competitors drove flat out on roads that remained open to public traffic and negotiated 6000km of competition in five days.

“They were very difficult rallies,” he recalls. “In the longest Safari Rally in 1972, which was 6480km long, I finished second. The winner was over nine hours behind the time schedule. It was driving for three days and three nights without any break. Drinking tea helped me a lot!

“I think those rallies were three or even four times more difficult than the current ones in terms of endurance and condition.”

The previous oldest WRC competitor was Norway’s Leif Vold-Johansen who drove Rallye Monte-Carlo in 1994 aged 82 and returned 12 months later as a co-driver.

The Safari marks the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. It starts in Nairobi on Thursday (24 June) and finishes in Naivasha three days later.

Hyundai Motorsport Preview: Round 6 – Safari Rally Kenya

Posted: June 24, 2021 2:36 PM

Hyundai Motorsport embarks on an exciting adventure next week as the FIA World Rally Championship returns to Africa for the first time since 2002.

Safari Rally Kenya, a brand-new event for Hyundai Motorsport and its trio of crews, will be the sixth round of the 2021 season and set to be one of the most spectacular. Known for its stunning scenery, local wildlife and punishing roads, the event will offer a fresh challenge to the Alzenau-based squad.

Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe, who scored their fourth podium of the year in Sardinia last time out, will be out to add more trophies to their collection. Two crews who left the last round frustrated, Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja and Dani Sordo/Borja Rozada, will complete the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team line-up in the Naivasha-based rally.

All three crews tested in the south of Portugal a few weeks’ ago in preparation for the Safari event, but their first taste of the rocky gravel roads will be in the recce. The immediate challenge will be to create detailed pace notes from scratch ahead of the 18-stage rally, which covers a competitive distance of 320km.

This year’s running will retain the character of the legendary Safari of old with unpredictability and rough rugged terrain set to put drivers, co-drivers and teams through an unprecedented test. For Hyundai Motorsport, whose Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC has set impressive pace in recent gravel events, the focus will be on scoring a representative result.

As the 2021 championship approaches its halfway point, the team will do everything in its power to reduce the 49-point gap to the manufacturers’ leaders - although knowing that the Safari Rally Kenya will be anything but predictable.

Team Principal Andrea Adamo said:
“We head to Kenya knowing that we have to deliver. We also know that it will be far from a straightforward weekend. The Safari Rally is an iconic event in the World Rally Championship, and it will be a pleasure for Hyundai Motorsport to compete in our first WRC round in Africa. The stages are going to be demanding and unknown to our three crews, so there is a lot of preparation work to carry out before we even reach to the opening stage. We have seen the pace of our Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC on gravel recently, but we have not achieved the desired results. The objective is for a strong team result and to re-energise our championship campaign.”

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Belgian crew scored fourth podium of 2021 season in Sardinia
Their nascent partnership will be put through a brand-new test in Africa

Neuville said: “I think everyone is excited to have Safari Rally Kenya on the calendar. I have heard stories from drivers who have had the chance to go there in the past, who have described the adventure they lived at the time. It will be a different experience for us, as the rallying has evolved over time. I don’t know what is waiting for us, but I hope to come back with a big trophy. We’ll be seeing zebras, elephants and giraffes; it is going to be fun!”

Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Estonian crew have experienced two tough rallies in a row, retiring from the lead
Their first visit to Safari Rally Kenya offers a chance to reclaim lost ground in the title fight

Tänak said: “Safari Rally Kenya is a new event for me, and Africa is a place where I’ve never been. I am looking forward to it, although I expect it to a bit of an adventure. I have seen some footage from previous rallies; it is one of those events where to finish first, first you have to finish. It seems to be a wild, wild place - and it will definitely be different to anything else on the calendar, something special. Hopefully everything will work out in our favour.”

Crew Notes: Dani Sordo/Borja Rozada (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Spanish pair tackle their third event as a WRC crew
Hoping to put the frustration of Sardinia firmly behind them in new event

Sordo said: “We left Sardinia feeling unfulfilled with our weekend because we knew we were capable of much more. The car was fast and showed its potential on tough gravel roads. Kenya will be another challenge, but it is going to be an incredible experience. Safari Rally is like nothing else, it’s an event that we have never contested, with really unique stage profiles. I like to drive in these sorts of conditions; it’s going to be a hard rally like in the past, so let’s see how we get on. We’re hoping to score a good result for the team, who have been working non-stop to prepare for these events.”

Weekend at a Glance
Based at the Kenya Wildlife Training Institute in Naivasha, Safari Rally Kenya covers 18 stages over a competitive distance of 320.19km
Starting with a Super Special at Kasarani on Thursday afternoon, the rally’s first full day will cover the southern shore of Lake Naivasha. Chui Lodge (13.34km), Kedong (at 32.68km, the longest stage of the rally), and Oserian (18.87km) will be run twice.
Saturday’s action moves north around Lake Elmenteita with the eponymous opening stage (14.67km) heading a trio of timed tests. Soysambu (20.33km) and Sleeping Warrior (31.04km) complete the loop, which will be run twice.
The final day covers Loldia (11.33km), Hells Gate (10.56km) and Malewa (9.71km), with the opening two stages run again to complete the rally.

Toyota Yaris WRC to face another ‘new’ challenge on Africa’s return

Posted: June 24, 2021 2:34 PM

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is getting ready to take on the epic challenge of the Safari Rally in Kenya on June 24-27 as the iconic event returns to the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time in almost 20 years. The rally marks a debut on the African continent for the Toyota Yaris WRC, which currently leads both the manufacturers’ and drivers’ championships after winning four of the first five rounds of 2021.

Although it last featured in the WRC in 2002, the Safari Rally has a legendary status in motorsport. Historically, the rally featured incredibly long stages on roads that were still open to the public but, for its comeback, it will run on closed roads with a format similar to other modern WRC rounds. Still, the expectation is for a demanding event over rough and rocky tracks, with the possibility for heavy rain to transform the dry and dusty surface into deep mud. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the regulations prohibit testing outside of Europe, with Toyota instead using a recent test in Spain to try to prepare as well as possible for what’s to come in Kenya.

The rally will start on Thursday lunchtime from the capital city Nairobi, with a nearby super special in Kasarani to kick-off the competitive action. The rest of the event takes place nearer to the service park on the shores of Lake Naivasha, around 100 kilometres to the north-west. Friday is made up of three stages to the south of the lake all run twice, before a move further north on Saturday to roads around Lake Elmenteita for another trio of repeated tests. The rally ends on Sunday with a total of five stages around Naivasha.

Rallying in Africa will be a new challenge for all of the team’s drivers including seven-time world champion Sébastien Ogier, who leads the championship by 11 points over his team-mate Elfyn Evans after winning the last round in Sardinia. Sixth in the points is the team’s youngest driver Kalle Rovanperä, while Takamoto Katsuta will once again be in action in a fourth Yaris WRC as part of the TGR WRC Challenge Program.

Quotes:
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“It is fantastic to have the Safari Rally and Kenya returning to the WRC. The rally is going to be very different to how it was previously, when they were driving on open roads and using helicopters to warn the crews about oncoming traffic, but we are still expecting to face some new challenges. The Safari used to be the most difficult event in the WRC, and although we don’t know exactly how the roads are going to be, we need to prepare for it to be a very hard rally that will be very tough for the cars. It’s new territory for us as a team and for all of the current drivers and it’s very exciting.”

Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia

Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 1)
“I am always excited to discover a new challenge in my career, and I believe this rally will be very different from anything I have done before. We’ve heard a lot that we are going to have to set our targets a little differently: The way we drive nowadays in the WRC is by really pushing the limits all of the time, but when we go to Kenya it will be much more about trying to survive the rally without trouble. I think it can be interesting to have a challenge like this during the year. It has been hard to know what is the right way to prepare, so I think the drivers will probably have to adapt a bit during the rally, but the recce will certainly be important to understand what is ahead of us.”

Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin

Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“Obviously, Kenya is a big unknown as none of the current drivers have been there to do an event before. Of course, I’ve seen a lot of the classic footage from the past and it all looks very spectacular. It’s not going to be exactly the same this time, as we’ll have a more controlled loop of stages, but I am nonetheless excited to go there and rally in a completely different environment. I suspect it’s not going to be the smoothest event on the calendar, and it could be a big test for the car and maybe for the crew as well. From what we’ve seen it’s quite an open landscape, so reading the road could be quite difficult, but until we get out there and have a look for ourselves on the recce, it’s very hard to judge what the biggest challenges will be.”

Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne Halttunen

Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“Kenya is going to be really interesting. It’s a new event for everybody and at the same time it’s also a really classic event from the past. The WRC was last there in the early 2000s when my father was competing, and I’ve seen all the old videos from then and he has been telling a lot of stories. Rallying as a sport is quite different now, so it’s going to be interesting to see how we will do those stages with the cars that we have these days. We know that it’s not exactly the same concept – we won’t drive such long stages, for instance – but it will still be nice to see if the conditions will be just as rough and as tricky in some places. Everything is going to be different but I’m excited for it.”

SAFARI RALLY MAKES ITS LONG AWAITED WRC RETURN

Posted: June 24, 2021 2:28 PM

The Safari Rally Kenya makes its long awaited return to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar this weekend.

Last year’s event was cancelled because of the Covid-19 situation, but the East African classic will take centre stage in the WRC for the first time since 2002.

Global rallying has seen many changes in those 19 years and the marathon events of legend are now a thing of the past. Saying that, the modern-day Safari event will be no less challenging and demanding and officials have laid on 18 special stages and 320.19 competitive kilometres to test the latest World Rally Cars and their teams to the limit.

Gone are historic routes spanning thousands of kilometres but they have been replaced by a Safari Rally that ticks all the modern day boxes in terms of stage distances and format, whilst retaining the magic associated with the most famous rally in the world.

The East African Coronation Safari was founded in 1953 to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and crossed Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Alan Dix and Johnny Larsen won that first endurance event in a Volkswagen Beetle.

Since its inception, some of the greatest names in the sport have faced the rigours of punishing heat, humidity, heavy rainfall, changeable weather conditions, arid rocky terrain, the perils of local wildlife and the demands of Africa on both man and machine.

Renamed the East African Safari Rally in 1960 and then the Safari Rally in 1974, the event grew in stature and began to attract the big names with Finnish legend Hannu Mikkola gracing the top step of the podium in a Ford Escort RS1600 in 1972. He went on to win the event again in an Audi 200 Quattro in 1987.

Local driver Shekhar Mehta holds the joint record for five Safari wins (1973 and 1979-1982), as the sport’s modern day stars like Sébastien Ogier, Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans hope to add their names to the list of previous winners.

That list included former Toyota Team Europe (TTE) boss Ove Andersson (1975), Swedish legend Björn Waldegård (1977, 1984, 1986 and 1990) and Finland’s Ari Vatanen (1983) and Juha Kankkunen (1985, 1991 and 1993).

The Safari became the most prestigious prize of them all throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, with teams specifically testing their cars for weeks on end to come up with a bullet-proof set-up that could cope with punishing African roads. The rally adopted a special stage format for the first time in 1996.

Italy’s Miki Biasion claimed back-to-back wins with Lancia in 1988 and 1989, Carlos Sainz etched his name on the trophy with Toyota in 1992 and former WRC champions, Tommi Makinen, Colin McRae and Richard Burns, shared seven wins between 1996 and 2002. McRae won three times and was the last winner of the WRC event to be staged in Kenya.

As they say in the local Masai language – Karibu Safari….Welcome to the adventure!

Prokop looks to finish in WRC2

There is a single Ford Fiesta in the hands of Czech veteran Martin Prokop. Because of logistical and quarantine issues for the UK-based M-Sport team, a skeleton staff has been sent to Kenya and Teemu Suninen’s WRC2 entry has been withdrawn.

Suninen is working on a duel programme this season for M-Sport – he drove a World Rally Car on three of the first five rounds and scored WRC2 points for finishing second in both Croatia and Portugal. Prokop was sixth at the Arctic Rally, seventh in Portugal and fourth in Sardinia and only needs to finish in Kenya to win the category.

After missing the Rally of Portugal following a positive Covid-19 test and then retiring in Sardinia, Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen had hoped to extend his slender two-point WRC2 lead in Kenya.

Andreas won the category at the Monte-Carlo Rally and finished second in the Arctic Rally. He was set to drive one of two Toksport World Rally Team Škoda Fabia Evos in East Africa, alongside team-mate Marco Bulacia. The Bolivian holds third in the points’ standings behind defending champion Mads Østberg, who has not made the trip to Kenya.

But Toksport has now withdrawn both cars from the original entry list because of logistical reasons.

Kenyans set to fight for WRC3 glory

None of the leading WRC3 title contenders have made the trip to Kenya and that has paved the way for five Kenyan drivers and a Pole to fight for honours in Africa.

Frenchman Yohan Rossel has a 34-point advantage over Poland’s Kajetan Kajetanowicz after five rounds of the series, with Nicolas Ciamin a further seven points adrift in third place.

In their absence, the Kenyan trio of Onkar Rai, Carl Tundo and Tejeer Rai will line up in Volkswagen Polo GTIs against their fellow countrymen, Karan Patel (Ford) and Aakif Virani (Škoda), and Poland’s Daniel Chwist (Škoda).

Tundo is the most experienced of all the local drivers and has won the non-WRC Safari Rally on five occasions (2004, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2018) when it counted as a round of the FIA African Rally Championship.

Tuesday
Tomorrow is the second day of stage reconnaissance for competitors and technical scrutineering for all entrants at the service park in Nairobi.

The shakedown stage then becomes the focus on Wednesday afternoon after a third morning of reconaissance.

SAFARI OF DISCOVERY FOR M-SPORT’S YOUNG DUO

Posted: June 24, 2021 2:23 PM

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team drivers Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux are heading to unchartered territory next week when the iconic Safari Rally Kenya returns to the FIA World Rally Championship following a 19-year absence.

Like their WRC rivals, the legendary gravel event is all-new for M-Sport’s rising stars, although the British team has a record to be proud of in East Africa, courtesy of two notable triumphs from the past.

In 1999, Colin McRae and Nicky Grist helped M-Sport deliver the first victory for the Ford Focus WRC. Then, three years later, McRae and Grist won the final Safari Rally to count for the World Rally Championship prior to its long-awaited comeback this year.

Although McRae’s ability to switch between caution and all-out speed – backed up by Grist’s expert guidance – was key to those victories, the hard work and meticulous preparation from the M-Sport mechanics also played a key role and will be called upon again when the latest edition of Safari Rally Kenya takes place from June 23-27.

But while the 2021 Safari will still provide a stern test for car and crew, modern rally regulations have required a modern-day format to be adopted. This means a move away from the arduous routes of old with the overall competitive distance this year 16 kilometres shorter than the leg one total from 2002.

However, some traditions do remain with the popular Thursday afternoon start in the capital Nairobi maintained, while roads – and the stunning landscape – from Safaris of yesteryear are preserved on the itinerary.

As well as hosting the ceremonial start, crews will also tackle the Kasarani superspecial within Nairobi’s city limits on Thursday afternoon prior to returning to the event’s hub in Naivasha, 100 kilometres northwest of the capital. But the opening test is the only one of the 18 stages not based in and around the spectacular Great Rift Valley.

Friday’s route is made up of three repeated stages. Kedong is the longest of the entire event at 32.68 kilometres and runs in between the Chui Lodge and Oserian tests. Kedong is a tried and tested Safari stage, while Chui Lodge and Oserian take place within the Oserengoni Wildlife Conservancy Estate.

Crews head north to Lake Elmenteita for Saturday’s action and to three more stages each run twice. The Elmenteita stage, held in the vast Delamere Estate, is up first and includes roads used on previous editions of the event. Caution will be the watchword on the Sleeping Warrior test thanks to a rock-coated closing section, while Soysambu includes two river crossings near the finish.

Sunday’s route opens on the Loldia forest roads followed by the first visit to the Hell’s Gate Power Stage and the single use Malewa, an undulating test with 90-degree junctions and rocks waiting to catch out the unwary. Following the repeat of Loldia, the Power Stage is due to get underway at 13h18 local time.

Because WRC regulations don’t permit testing outside Europe, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team engineers have used data gathered from the recent world championship rounds in Portugal and Sardinia – the first events on gravel with the new-for-2021 Pirelli tyres – to help with their preparations.

Meanwhile, complicated logistics due to COVID-19 have resulted in Teemu Suninen’s planned WRC2 entry not going ahead, although Czech privateer Martin Prokop will compete under the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team banner in the category.

Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“Safari Rally Kenya really is a step into an unknown for our drivers and most of the team, but challenges are something we relish at M-Sport and we can’t wait to get started. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has created several logistical issues and has accounted for our slightly reduced presence in Kenya, but we’re competing in a world championship and it’s great for the WRC that we’re returning to Africa after such a long gap.

“We head to Kenya with plenty of reason to be optimistic. Gus has shown the progress we expected of him, while Adrien continues to underline his potential. We know it won’t be an easy rally by any means, but we’ve put in place a firm plan for them to follow. Getting to the finish and benefitting from that experience is part of it, but we’re also expecting to see some strong stage times during the event.”

ADRIEN FOURMAUX
RENAUD JAMOUL


After switching to WRC2 and an EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2 for Rally Italia Sardegna, Frenchman Fourmaux, 26, is back in a Fiesta WRC for his Safari debut. Following impressive performances in the top-level Fiesta in Croatia and Portugal, his Safari Rally entry provides a first opportunity to build on his gravel experience in the car.

Adrien Fourmaux said:
“It’s really good that the WRC is going back to Kenya. It will be a really big challenge and we know from the past how difficult this rally was. Okay, it’s a shorter event this time compared to the old WRC event, but it will still be hard and completely different to what we know.

“I’m a bit too young to remember watching the Safari Rally when it used to be in the WRC, but I have seen some videos and it was amazing to see the Ford Focus with the extra bars at the front. We will not have this protection but I am sure we will find some giraffes and elephants on the stages so it will be really interesting and for sure we will have to be careful!

“I have watched the video of the organiser. In some places we will have to almost stop because it’s really rough, but this is when we have to be smart enough to say, ‘okay this section we have to be slow but this section we can be fast’.

“It’s really nice to know the last driver to win the Safari in the WRC was Colin McRae in the M-Sport Focus. It will be really difficult to do exactly the same result although you never know because a lot of things can happen. But I want to stay quite humble. It’s an honour for me to do this rally and I can only say thanks to M-Sport for this opportunity. To go to Kenya is really good but with the WRC car it’s a dream and I can’t wait discover not only the rally but the humanity and the landscape.”

GUS GREENSMITH
CHRIS PATTERSON

While team-mate Fourmaux once holidayed in Morocco, Greensmith has never previously visited Africa. The 24-year-old Briton heads to the great continent with Chris Patterson back on co-driving duties after Stuart Loudon deputised on Rally Italia Sardegna.

Gus Greensmith said:
“I was five when Colin McRae won the Safari for M-Sport and didn’t know what rallying was. But it’s obviously a cool thing he did and we’ve got the Safari Rally Focus that Colin won in in the main hall at M-Sport so every time I’m at M-Sport I pass the car. Clearly, it’s a very fond memory for Malcolm and the team and it would be great to get another good result.

“I’ve asked Malcolm plenty of questions about the Safari, but it was obviously so different back then with open roads and very long stages. It’s a very different challenge now and kind of new for the people of who have done it before. It’s definitely a trip into the unknown for me – I’ve never even been to Africa – but I’ve been watching the organiser videos for quite a while. Usually, I watch them religiously to become more familiar with the stages because it helps me to write better pacenotes, but because the roads are so undefined it’s been a different preparation for me. But I’m sure we’ll find more definition when we get there.

“From what I’ve seen I don’t think I can compare the Safari Rally to anything else I’ve done. But I have shown I can drive to the conditions when I need to, like when I won WRC2 on Monte-Carlo and in Turkey.

“We’ve certainly made some very good steps forward since Croatia. Chris is back in car on this rally and it will be helpful to have his knowledge. My aim for the remainder of the year is to be consistently in the top five and keep my pace going forward. There’s no reason why that can’t be possible.”

Entry List (Updated 23 Jun 21)

Posted: May 29, 2021 5:01 AM

Rally Guide / Details / Event Website

Posted: May 10, 2021 8:53 AM


Upcoming Events

 Past Events

 Future Events