Tue 28 Jun 2022

View from the service park - Kenya

Saturday afternoon sitting in Elmenteita, the excitement was palpable.

It was coming. It was going to happen. The crazy curved ball that picked up Safari Rally Kenya and tipped it on its head 12 months ago was about to be pitched.

And then came the rain.

And the rain didn’t just arrive, it hammered down. The noise as it bounced off nearby roofs was extraordinary, but more pertinently, the speed with which it turned roads to rivers was breath-taking.

Then Hyundai Motorsport man Thierry Neuville drove into a tree and team-mate Oliver Solberg drove into him while attempting to powerboat his way through one of Africa’s deeper mud pools.

In the blink of an eye, the dark black clouds had flicked their switch and ratcheted the entertainment level up a notch or two. And, let’s face it, Safari Rally Kenya is one of the season’s highlights in terms of theatre before the cars have even turned a wheel.

Last weekend was the FIA World Rally Championship in all its glory. Visiting places like Nairobi and Naivasha brings something entirely different and enormously special to the calendar.

Where else can you enjoy the Beast of a Feast? Carnivore restaurant does what it says in the name. It’s not for everybody, but sitting down to a plate of crocodile with a side order of ostrich was quite a unique moment.

It's in the countryside where Africa really works its magic on you. A stone’s throw from the Sleeping Warrior stage that caught everybody’s attention on Saturday afternoon is Hell’s Gate National Park – the place that inspired Walt Disney’s The Lion King.

Spotting the real-life Simba and Mufasa isn’t as difficult as you’d imagine – and if you’re luck’s really in then you’re going to be treated to a fly by from the bearded vulture or black eagle. Much as we love the likes of Sardinia before and Estonia afterwards, in terms of wildlife, nothing quite matches round six.

And, for the second season in succession, the drama on the stages more than matched the spectacle of the scenery and the power of the panorama. The vast majority of the crews left with an African tale to tell, but Kalle Rovanperä’s story was the one they all wanted.

Video: Safari Rally Kenya - top 7 close calls
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