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WRC Preview: Rally Safari Kenya

Written by Apostolos Papageorgiou, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri


Credit: Brian Otieno / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

As we reach the midpoint of the season, the World Rally Championship jets off to its first non-European round since Mexico, back in March, for an absolute classic: The Safari Rally in Africa. A staple of the WRC for almost 50 years, the Safari used to be the ultimate test of endurance for both man and machine. The rally served as the longest event by a large margin, with a single stage being longer than even some rallies on the calendar. After two decades out of the championship, the Safari returned to the top level in 2021, as the organisers revamped the length of the rally to match the rest of the events. Yet, the rally remains just as difficult, with the crews having to face the sweltering heat that can quickly turn into a torrential downpour, as well as the abundance of soft sand, also referred to as fesh-fesh, littering the stages.


Kalle Rovanperä won here last time out, heading a Toyota one-two-three-four, on his way to the championship. This year hasn’t been as straightforward for the Finn, but consistent results and podium appearances in the last two rounds have given him a sizable cushion to second place in the standings. However, with the unpredictability of the rally, the Finn knows he can’t afford to relax just yet.


Victory in Sardinia rocketed Thierry Neuville to second in the championship. The Belgian would be happy with a repeat of his podium in 2021, but the questionable reliability of the Hyundai I20, coupled with his tendency to push the car beyond its limits, leading to off-track excursions, may put paid to that.


Credit: Brian Otieno / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

As we reach the midpoint of the season, the World Rally Championship jets off to its first non-European round since Mexico, back in March, for an absolute classic: The Safari Rally in Africa. A staple of the WRC for almost 50 years, the Safari used to be the ultimate test of endurance for both man and machine. The rally served as the longest event by a large margin, with a single stage being longer than even some rallies on the calendar. After two decades out of the championship, the Safari returned to the top level in 2021, as the organisers revamped the length of the rally to match the rest of the events. Yet, the rally remains just as difficult, with the crews having to face the sweltering heat that can quickly turn into a torrential downpour, as well as the abundance of soft sand, also referred to as fesh-fesh, littering the stages.


Kalle Rovanperä won here last time out, heading a Toyota one-two-three-four, on his way to the championship. This year hasn’t been as straightforward for the Finn, but consistent results and podium appearances in the last two rounds have given him a sizable cushion to second place in the standings. However, with the unpredictability of the rally, the Finn knows he can’t afford to relax just yet.


Victory in Sardinia rocketed Thierry Neuville to second in the championship. The Belgian would be happy with a repeat of his podium in 2021, but the questionable reliability of the Hyundai I20, coupled with his tendency to push the car beyond its limits, leading to off-track excursions, may put paid to that.


Credit: Brian Otieno / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

One man with experience here is Takamoto Katsuta. He’s made the podium both times in the last two rallies held here, and a third consecutive appearance would help finally get the Japanese driver’s season on track, as well as serving as a much needed confidence boost. Although, things have already started with a bang, as he rolled his Yaris in the shakedown.


Kenya will be Dani Sordo’s last rally before he hands the third I20 to Teemu Suninen for Estonia and Finland. The Spaniard is looking for a solid send-off to his somewhat troubled season so far, but given the nature of the rally, a podium can look as realistic as it does unlikely.


The last person on the Rally1 roster is the returning Jourdan Serderidis, looking to enjoy himself as much as possible on these spectacular stages. His main competition will most likely be a depleted WRC2 field, consisting of Oliver Solberg, who’s not eligible for points; Kajetan Kajetanowicz; Grégoire Munster; and Martin Prokop, all of them looking to capitalise on the absence of the usual big names to kick start their season.


Credit: Brian Otieno / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

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