Thu 23 Jun 2022

Tänak: This is a proper Safari

Hyundai Motorsport’s Ott Tänak believes this week’s Safari Rally Kenya will be even tougher than when he contested the event in 2021.

The Estonian begins the Naivasha-based fixture - which starts later today (Thursday) - sitting third in the FIA World Rally Championship drivers' standings. He trails leader Kalle Rovanperä by a bulky 58 points, although a good result here could help to close the gap. 

Tänak finished third overall on last year’s Safari despite dropping more than two minutes on the penultimate day when the heated windscreen of his i20 stopped working during a rain shower. 

That’s a result he’ll be hoping to improve on - or at least repeat - this season, despite admitting the challenge will be even bigger.

“This year, it’s a proper Safari,” Tänak told WRC.com. “In places you are driving in riverbeds and on tracks in the fields. It’s definitely more of an endurance event than last year.

“Last year, we had some stages like this, but we were using more normal roads. This year it seems like the balance has changed, but this is what the rally is all about. 

“It won’t be enjoyable in the car, let’s say, but on the other side it’s quite a good challenge and it’s something I missed last year, I think. I like stages which have more challenges and this is what the Safari needs to be.”

Almost a third of the rally route is new for 2022. Changes include brand-new stages at Geothermal and Oserian on Friday and Saturday, while some of last year’s tests have been extended. 

According to Tänak, Saturday’s leg will be the one to watch out for - especially if the predicted thunderstorms arrive.

“Already in the recce, quite a lot of people were getting stuck, which shows that it’s going to be tricky,” he explained. 

“It seems like Friday may be easier and the road conditions are not so bad, but Saturday is definitely going to be a big challenge. 

“During the recce, it actually rained at some point and when it rains here, the surface gets so greasy with no grip whatsoever. It’s going to be even more tricky if it rains.”

• Full coverage from Safari Rally Kenya will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.

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