WRC gears up for Safari Rally Kenya

WRC gears up for Safari Rally Kenya

The 70th anniversary Safari Rally Kenya will host round seven of the action-packed and thrilling 2023 FIA World Rally Championship this weekend marking the midpoint of the season.

shortly after victories by M-Sport (Ford) and Toyota earlier in the year, all three manufacturers participating in the first stage of the hybrid-powered Rally1 era are now doing well in 2023 following Hyundai’s victory on Rally Italia Sardegna earlier this month.

Given the Rally1 regulations’ accessibility, they accomplished this with three different car types, which include: Toyota, Hyundai and M-Sport having adopted B-Class, C-Class, and Compact Crossover cars, respectively. These call for the use of fossil-free fuel and put an even greater emphasis on improved safety than before thanks to the ever-advancing technology.

However, despite the fact that Safari Rally Kenya is the most recent success providing cause for celebration, the drivers and teams participating in one of the sport’s most demanding events will be only focused on mastering the difficult route located around the event hub Naivasha, located 100 kilometers to the north of the nation’s capital, Nairobi.

Safari Rally Kenya is not to be underestimated as it comes with river crossings, rock-strewn sections, climbs and dips, intense heat and slippery terrain in the event of heavy rain, to name just a few of what’s in store. The event takes place from June 22–25 over 355.92 timed kilometers.

The Safari Rally Kenya offers a chance for multiple African crews to gain valuable experience and highlight the competitive nature of the FIA African Rally Championship in addition to being a part of the increasingly thrilling contest for the renowned FIA World Rally Championship titles.

The WRC’s global reach must be broadened in order to inspire future generations of drivers, co-drivers, engineers, technicians, logistics specialists, and other professionals in order for the sport to keep expanding and become appealing to a wider audience. Therefore, the opportunity presented by the tournament’s return to Africa in 2021 after over two decades away, has been important.

All Rally1 vehicles racing in the Safari Rally Kenya will be equipped with Pirelli’s Scorpion KX soft and hard tyres. While the hard compound is best used in warm, dry weather, the soft compound is preferred in cool, wet conditions. The event allows Rally1 teams to use a total of 28 tyres, including four during Shakedown.

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Safari Rally Kenya is a must-watch event given its beautiful surroundings and rich wildlife. After the official start in Uhuru Park, the 19-stage route begins with the two-by-two Kasarani superspecial on the outskirts of Nairobi.

The Friday leg is mostly unchanged and consists of three repeated stages around Lake Naivasha’s northern and southern shorelines. The action on Saturday takes place north of Naivasha towards Lake Elmenteita and features two trips through the Sleeping Warrior stage, which is now the longest stage of the rally at 31.04 kilometers after Friday’s Kedong stage was somewhat shortened.

The first of three repeat tests on the event’s final leg, the new Malewa stage, is the first on Sunday’s schedule. The 10.53-kilometer Hell’s Gate Wolf Power Stage serves as the grand finale.

HYBRID CONTENDERS FOR RALLY 1

Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team: Esepakka Lappi has no prior experience competing in the Safari Rally Kenya, although Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo do.

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team: Ott Tänak placed third in 2021 on his Safari debut for the team, but Pierre-Louis Loubet is a first-time competitor. Despite competing in a third Ford Puma Rally1, Jourdan Serderidis is not qualified to receive Manufacturers’ championship points.

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT: Sébastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanperä, winners of the Safari Rally in 2021 and 2022, respectively, have a strong track record for Toyota. The second-place finish Takamoto Katsuta earned in 2021 was his first WRC podium. Elfyn Evan completes the Toyota-powered lineup after placing second last year.

SUPPORTING CATEGORIES

The FIA WRC2 category for Rally2 vehicles will include twelve racers. They include Carl Tundo who is a multiple Kenyan champion, Armin Kremer, Grégoire Munster, Kajetan Kajetanowicz, and Martin Prokop. Young Swedish driver Oliver Solberg despite not having listed the Safari Rally Kenya as one of his scoring rounds, will also use Rally1 technology.

The WRC3 entry includes drivers from Canada and Paraguay, Jason Bailey and Diego Dominguez with also including Hamza Anwar, McRae Kimathi, and Jeremiah Wahome from Kenya.

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