Before the Safari Rally, a new experience for everybody on the team, the drivers feared that it would be more than challenging for them as well as for the cars. Now, after the race has ended, all of them concluded that it was even tougher than what they expected.
Reintroduced in the FIA World Rally Championship after almost 20 years, this famous Rally was known for its long stages, difficult rocky tracks and unsupportive weather. And, throughout the 4 race days at this year’s event, its infamous reputation was confirmed.
The weekend proved to be difficult for most crews. Sebastien Ogier was 7th, with more than 2 minutes off the lead, Kalle Rovanpera and co-driver Jonne Halttunen were literally stuck in a rut by the end of Friday, while Evans and co-driver Scott Martin even had to retire during Friday’s second stage. But all of them gave it their best to fight back and, in the end, all 4 Toyota Yaris WRC crews managed to finish in the top 10 – an impressive performance.
Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia claimed their 4th victory from 6 events, confirming their leading position, while Takamoto Katsuta got on the WRC podium for the first time.
In the final day, when they had to tackle 5 short but very difficult stages, Ogier and Katsuta ended up competing with one another for the win, right as the race was coming to an end. Ogier was 3rd going in, which gave Katsuta the chance to advance like never before, but then demonstrated his mastery once again and secured a win in the Power Stage. He can now be proud to add a Safari Rally win to his outstanding performances.
Halfway through the season, Ogier has ensured 4 wins for the Toyota Yaris WRC. Next, Rally Estonia will challenge the Toyota team with smooth gravel roads with crests and jumps, between July 15 and July 18. But, after having conquered the wild rally in Kenya, this should be a breeze.