Wednesday | 23 Jun 2021

Ogier fastest at Safari shakedown

Sébastien Ogier was quickest in Wednesday afternoon’s Safari Rally Kenya shakedown as drivers took their first opportunity to sample the classic African roads at competitive pace.

The FIA World Rally Championship leader headed Toyota Yaris team-mate Elfyn Evans by a tenth of a second through the 5.15km Loldia test, overlooking Lake Naivasha. Thierry Neuville was a second further back in a Hyundai i20.

The stage was representative of the punishing broken roads that competitors will face over the next few days and Dani Sordo was fastest out of the blocks to set quickest time in the opening run in his i20.

Ogier moved top of the standings in the second pass and lowered his benchmark time further in his fourth and final run. Evans and Neuville soared up the order in their last attempt to fill the top three places.

Video: Safari Rally Kenya - the stages

“It’s a massive challenge and we know we have a tough weekend ahead,” explained Ogier. “The biggest challenge for me will be to find a nice rhythm but there are some parts where we can push. So far, so good.

“The recce went well and shakedown was quite representative so it gave us a chance to test a little bit and adjust the set-up for the rally. I feel ready, but are we really ready for this kind of rally? I’m not sure!”

Sordo improved his times with each run to claim fourth, 0.8sec behind team-mate Neuville. Takamoto Katsuta, driving a Yaris, and Gus Greensmith, in a Ford Fiesta, filled the remaining places in the top six.

Neuville was third on the warm-up test

Oliver Solberg received a harsh early reminder of the Safari’s brutal nature. The Swede hit a tree stump 3.1km into his first run and his i20 was brought to an early halt with broken front right suspension.

Also in trouble was Lorenzo Bertelli. After his first run was interrupted due to Solberg’s incident, the Italian completed two passes before his Fiesta stopped with a radiator leak in his fourth attempt.

The leading times were:

Pos Driver Car Time
1. Sébastien OGIER Toyota Yaris 03min 42.6sec
2. Elfyn EVANS Toyota Yaris +0.1sec
3. Thierry NEUVILLE Hyundai i20 +1.1sec
4. Dani SORDO Hyundai i20 +1.9sec
5. Takamoto KATSUTA Toyota Yaris +3.0sec
6 Gus GREENSMITH Ford Fiesta +3.1sec
7. Kalle ROVANPERÄ Toyota Yaris +3.5sec
8. Ott TÄNAK Hyundai i20 +4.6sec
9. Adrien FOURMAUX Ford Fiesta +7.4sec
10. Lorenzo BERTELLI Ford Fiesta +8.7sec
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