Thursday | 30 Jun 2022

The Inside Line: Safari Rally Kenya

The toughest round of the FIA World Rally Championship certainly lived up to expectations. Join us as we look back on the hottest topics from Safari Rally Kenya.

Star drive 
Four wins in the past five rallies - when is Kalle Rovanperä going to slow down?

Bar a hairy moment on the first corner of Thursday’s super special, the Finn was flawless and truly at one with his GR Yaris machine. His performance when the rain arrived on Saturday? Epic. 

This was - in Kalle’s own words - the most special win yet. He’ll not be forgetting it for a very, very long time. 

Most memorable stage 
SS13: Sleeping Warrior 2. It was exhilarating to watch the hybrid-powered Rally1 cars aquaplaning all over the road in the waterlogged conditions. 

Almost every driver had at least one ‘moment’ in the 31km blast, with Thierry Neuville failing to make it out of the stage after hitting a tree with limited visibility.

It was a week to forget for M-Sport Ford

Biggest surprise
We knew Toyota’s GR Yaris was strong, but nobody could have ever predicted a 1-2-3-4 finish for the Japanese manufacturer squad. 

As many crews found out, Kenya’s roads show no mercy. But last weekend, Toyota Gazoo Racing got the balance between strength and performance absolutely right. 

One to forget
M-Sport Ford and Hyundai Motorsport both had a nightmare week. 

Out of the two line-ups, Hyundai’s Oliver Solberg was the only driver to finish without utilising restart rules - and even he hit trouble after scooping up some fesh-fesh sand on Sunday. 

If one thing is guaranteed, it’s that both teams will be out for some serious redemption at Rally Estonia next month (14 - 17 July).

Photo of the rally
This photo by @World gives you an idea of the conditions drivers had to contend with. Dust aplenty, thick fesh-fesh sand and deep ruts. Don’t stop - you might get stuck!

Best save
It’s got to be Rovanperä’s recovery after running wide and almost rolling on SS1.

Luckily he got away with just a rear puncture, but the outcome of the whole rally could so easily have been very different.

Quote of the rally 
“My grandfather can borrow my snowplough next year if he wants it.”

That’s what Solberg said mid-stage to co-driver Elliott Edmondson while ploughing through the sand on Sunday morning. Who needs a snowplough when you’ve got a Hyundai i20 N?  

You’ll never believe it 
The rate of attrition was so high that every driver in the WRC3 category retired at least once. 

Ford Fiesta Rally3 debutante Maxine Wahome eventually took the spoils and made history by becoming the first female winner of a WRC3 rally.

Wahome made history with her WRC3 win

Number of the rally
1993 - the last time Toyota occupied all four positions. Funnily enough, that was also in Kenya, with Finn Juha Kankkunen topping the timesheets in a Celica. 

Fun fact 
Rovanperä’s father, Harri, was runner-up on the Safari twice in 2001 and 2002 with Peugeot. There goes another family record…

Asahi Kasei Turning Point

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