Mon 23 May 2022

Ogier to chase back-to-back wins in Kenya

Sébastien Ogier will return to Toyota Gazoo Racing’s line-up to defend his Safari Rally Kenya (23 - 26 June) crown next month.

The eight-time world champion will be replaced by Esapekka Lappi in the Japanese manufacturer’s squad for Rally Italia Sardegna (2 - 5 June), having driven a GR Yaris in Portugal last weekend.

But Toyota confirmed on Monday (23 May) afternoon that Ogier will be back for the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Naivasha, 12 months after winning on the Safari’s WRC return following a 19-year absence.

He will be partnered by championship leader Kalle Rovanperä, who claimed a third consecutive victory at Vodafone Rally de Portugal on Sunday, and Elfyn Evans.

The Frenchman snatched an unlikely victory in 2021 after long-time leader Thierry Neuville’s dreams were shattered alongside his car’s suspension.

Neuville retired his Hyundai i20 in the final day’s opening speed test after hitting a rock and smashing the right rear damper. Ogier then demoted team-mate Takamoto Katsuta in the penultimate stage to win the punishing four-day African classic by 21.8sec.

He had clawed his way back up the order from seventh after suffering suspension troubles of his own on the opening day.

Ogier’s second outing of the 2022 season in Portugal ended in disappointment. Having finished second at the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo, two punctures forced him out of the gravel road encounter on Friday’s opening leg.

He restarted on Saturday but went off the road and later retired for a second time after a fire caused by brake fluid leaking onto his car’s hot exhaust. He restarted on Sunday and eventually finished 51st.

The Safari features 19 special stages covering almost 365km of competition.

Toyota Gazoo Racing Safari Rally Kenya line-up
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM