Wed 27 Mar 2024

WRC team bosses left speechless by Safari thrill rides

Principals of the FIA World Rally Championship teams were left stunned after experiencing passenger rides with their drivers during the Safari Rally Kenya shakedown on Wednesday (27 March).

Typically immersed in the hustle of the service park during rallies, Cyril Abiteboul, Richard Millener and Jari-Matti Latvala found themselves in a different role today—strapped into the passenger seats of their respective Rally1 cars for a thrilling experience on the Loldia shakedown stage.

Abiteboul, who transitioned from Formula 1 to join Hyundai Motorsport last year, confessed to a mind-blowing encounter as he rode alongside Ott Tänak for the first time in the team’s i20 N.

“That was beyond imagination,” the Frenchman exclaimed. “That’s the only thing I can say. I simply don't get how they can anticipate what corner is coming, that's mind-blowing. I've been doing some stuff in my life, I've been very privileged to do some amazing stuff, but that's just on another level.

“That experience, that crazy feeling that we have had, that is something which is totally unique in the world.”

Millener, no stranger to rallying having competed regularly in the UK before focusing on his management role at M-Sport Ford, was equally astonished by the speed of today's rally cars.

“When [the drivers] come back and say they've broken the car, now I know why,” he quipped after his exhilarating run with Adrien Fourmaux. “But the crazy thing is, if you don't push that hard, you're not fast enough.

“That was absolutely insane, these cars are unbelievable. The speed, the power and everything, they are mega. If anyone gets a chance to do this, they should do it. I was so lucky to do that, it was a lot of fun.”

Despite boasting an impressive 18 WRC wins himself, ex-driver Jari-Matti Latvala was in awe of Toyota GR Yaris star Elfyn Evans.

“I am used to driving fast, but I can't do what he [Evans] was doing now,” he smiled. “I mean, the confidence, the commitment, the performance of the car, having all of that together is an amazing feeling. Wow!”

The rally official starts from Kenyan capital Nairobi on Thursday lunchtime. Ahead lie 19 gruelling special stages around Lakes Naivasha and Elmenteita covering 367.76km before Sunday afternoon's finish in Naivasha.

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