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Friday, June 21, 2024

The Good, The Unhealthy and a battle between champions

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High Performer – Sebastien Ogier and Vincent Landais

There usually are not many drivers that may overcome the numerous hurdles Sebastien Ogier confronted at Safari Rally Kenya and nonetheless come out on high. The eight-time world champion could also be semi-retired today, however he’s nonetheless on the very high of his recreation.

Ogier and co-driver Vincent Landais assumed the rally lead on stage two and that was the place they stayed for the remaining 17 levels. That will sound prefer it was a stroll within the (safari) park, however that does not inform the total story. Ogier had to make use of all of his expertise to attain what is going to go down as certainly one of his hardest fought victories.

The Toyota driver was courageous to take the gamble of carrying just one spare on Friday, given the occasion is famend for its excessive puncture threat. However this calculated transfer to run a lighter automotive proved a masterstroke in establishing an early 22.1s lead.

Three punctures on Saturday, together with a double-front failure, did not halt Ogier though he did come underneath rising stress from charging Toyota team-mate Kalle Rovanpera. Regardless of seeing his 32.0s lead whittled down to eight.6s, Ogier held his nerve. A small error that resulted in clipping a tree on stage 15 value him his tailgate and rear wing, however Ogier nonetheless went on to win the stage and re-establish his buffer to Rovanpera.

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An overheating challenge attributable to his GR Yaris ingesting sand and a rock smashing his windscreen on the ultimate stage didn’t cease Ogier from scoring a 3rd win from 5 occasions in 2023. He held off Rovanpera by 6.7s, the closest successful margin in Safari Rally historical past. It will likely be remembered as certainly one of Ogier’s best wins given the adversity he confronted.

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photograph by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Honourable mentions: Kalle Rovanpera and Jonne Halttunen

Reigning world champions Kalle Rovanpera and Jonne Halttunen seem near being again at their absolute best as they impressed as soon as once more. Rovanpera’s efficiency beginning first on the street was exemplary as he slotted into second total on Friday, a place he held to the end.

The Finn drove well as soon as his championship rivals Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak hit bother to make sure he secured a robust factors haul to spice up his title defence. This was maybe the primary time this season the place Rovanpera has overtly admitted to driving with the title race in thoughts. A tyre that got here off the rim in the direction of the top of the penultimate stage was the one challenge he suffered all occasion. 

The 22-year-old delivered a mature show befitting of a champion, whereas additionally exhibiting flashes of brilliance; notably his stage 13 win when the heavens opened, creating extremely slippery circumstances that noticed a lot of his rivals battle. His quickest time set within the rally’s roughest check (stage 15) additionally turned heads, together with Ogier’s, after briefly halving the Frenchman’s lead.

Rovanpera didn’t fairly have sufficient to beat his team-mate to clinch the victory, however the end result has put the Finn firmly on the right track to defend his WRC title. 

Winners Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 with the team

Winners Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 with the workforce

Photograph by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Workforce of the Week: Toyota Gazoo Racing

When Toyota scored a surprising 1-2-3-4 eventually yr’s Safari Rally, Toyota WRC boss Jari-Matti Latvala stated: “It was 29 years in the past the final time [Toyota scored a 1-2-3-4 in 1993] in Safari so if that occurs after each 30 years it’s a very uncommon state of affairs.”

That assertion has not aged properly. Toyota repeated the feat a yr later as Ogier led dwelling Rovanpera, Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta to as soon as once more show that the Japanese model is the grasp at conquering the Safari. Because the occasion returned to the WRC calendar in 2021, Toyota is undefeated.

This newest Safari domination was notably candy given Toyota headed to Kenya after a difficult Sardinia the place the GR Yaris was questioned after it struggled to navigate by means of water splashes.

Nevertheless, in Kenya the Toyota proved to be resilient, quick and powerful because it tackled the harshest circumstances on the WRC calendar. The automotive wasn’t utterly bulletproof, as witnessed by the overheating points that occurred after ingesting fesh-fesh sand on Sunday. Its water splash weak point additionally reared its head when Evans stalled his automotive after navigating by means of water on Saturday.

However to attain a back-to-back 1-2-3-4 within the hardest occasion on the calendar is a vastly spectacular feat and maybe an achievement that can by no means be replicated. The end result locations Toyota firmly because the championship’s present benchmark operation.

“Once we received this 1-2-3-4 final yr I assumed it was one thing that takes a long time to [repeat] but it surely occurred one yr later,” stated Latvala. “What I can say is we have now a wonderful workforce of individuals, a dependable and powerful automotive, after which we have now the drivers who’ve the endurance on this occasion to drive a intelligent approach, which is a mix of driving quick but in addition slowing down for the tough locations and understanding the historical past of this occasion. Coming with the precise philosophy has achieved this end result.”

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai World Rally Workforce Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photograph by: Pink Bull Content material Pool

Moments of Heartbreak

Spare a thought for Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi. The Finn impressed on his Kenya debut, regardless of failing to finish any runs in shakedown as a consequence of two prop shaft failures. Lappi climbed to 3rd on Saturday and appeared on the right track for a podium when he suffered a 3rd prop shaft failure on stage 11 that ended any hopes of podium.

Hyundai is about to hold out a radical investigation after Lappi suffered one other drivetrain challenge when he rejoined the rally on Sunday.

 

So as to add to Hyundai’s reliability woes, Thierry Neuville retired from a snug fourth place when his front-left suspension failed on stage six. The Belgian rejoined the rally to recuperate to eighth earlier than being disqualified for breaching recce laws.

It’s honest to say M-Sport’s Ott Tanak is just not receiving the rub of the inexperienced in current rounds. His misfortune struck once more when a tyre got here off the rim in stage 4, costing the Estonian greater than two minutes and ending any hope of robust factors.

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photograph by: Tomek Kaliński

Fortunate Escapes

Rally winner Ogier had greater than his justifiable share of fortunate escapes on his strategy to victory. Three punctures value him time however the Frenchman was lucky contact with a tree solely eliminated the GR Yaris’ tailgate on stage 15. Regardless of the distinct lack of aero, he managed to win the stage by 8.6s from Rovanpera.

 

Ogier was additionally lucky to keep away from a run in with a zebra and his automotive overheating after taking up sand on the penultimate stage.

Kenya is famend for its distinctive set of hazards. The native wildlife required Tanak, the rally chief heading into Friday, to decelerate in stage two previous to his tyre challenge on stage 4.

“It has been like driving in a zoo,” exclaimed the M-Sport man. “First, we met a pig within the street after which we had a bunch of zebras who didn’t give a f*** that we had been coming.”

 

Toyota’s Evans can rely himself lucky that he was capable of revive his GR Yaris after stalling following a water splash, which value the Welshman 45 seconds on stage eight. He additionally rode his luck on the earlier stage after driving by means of a small bush.

 

Workforce-mate Katsuta survived a number of scrapes, starting with a roll in shakedown. The rollcage was undamaged, which meant the Japanese driver’s automotive could possibly be repaired by his hardy mechanics. Katsuta then made contact with a zebra on stage 5 earlier than clouting a tree on stage seven, which was then adopted by a puncture.

High Tweets

M-Sport’s Pierre-Louis Loubet discovered himself on the entrance pages of the newspapers when the President of Kenya William Ruto joined him within the co-driver seat.

 

 On the subject of digital camera work, the heli-cam is troublesome to beat within the spectacular imaginative and prescient stakes.

 

The particles from Takamoto Katsuta’s Toyota was put to good use by the followers.

 

This picture sums up the fervour for rally in Kenya.

 

When it rains in Kenya, it does not mess about because the drivers found.

 

Sizzling Photographs

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photograph by: Toyota Racing

Pierre-Louis Loubet, Nicolas Gilsoul, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Pierre-Louis Loubet, Nicolas Gilsoul, M-Sport Ford World Rally Workforce Ford Puma Rally1

Photograph by: M-Sport

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai World Rally Workforce Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photograph by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Workforce Ford Puma Rally1

Photograph by: M-Sport

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Workforce Ford Puma Rally1

Photograph by: M-Sport

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