Ogier triumphs at Safari Rally Kenya, leading Toyota's 1-2-3-4 finish

Sebastien Ogier picked up his second Safari Rally victory, beating teammate Kalle Rovanperra by 6.7 seconds | Photo CRedit: Imago Images

Ogier triumphs at Safari Rally Kenya, leading Toyota's 1-2-3-4 finish

Shafic Kiyaga 16:03 - 25.06.2023

Ultimately, Ogier triumphed by a margin of 6.7 seconds, securing Toyota's second consecutive clean sweep at the Safari Rally.

Sébastien Ogier emerged victorious at the Safari Rally Kenya, securing his third win of the season and leading a remarkable 1-2-3-4 finish for Toyota.

The final day of the rally witnessed Ogier fending off a fierce challenge from his teammate Kalle Rovanperä, resulting in a breathtaking conclusion to the event.

Ogier's rally almost took a disastrous turn during the second special stage on Sunday when his GR Yaris car skidded wide on a right-hand bend, encountering the treacherous fesh-fesh sand of Kenya.

In a heart-stopping moment, the Frenchman clipped a tree, causing his car's rear tailgate to be torn off. Despite the setback, Ogier displayed remarkable resilience, winning the stage by eight seconds and recovering the lost time from the opening stage of the day.

Kalle Rovanpera finished second to extend his lead in the WRC to 37 points | Photo Credit: Imago Images

The drama continued as the four Yaris crews completed the penultimate stage, battling with overheating engines caused by the relentless dust.

Ogier, in particular, felt the impact, as his lead was reduced to a mere 9.2 seconds. However, the eight-time world champion managed to hold on and deliver a faultless performance in the Wolf Power Stage finale, even with a cracked windscreen.

Ultimately, Ogier triumphed by a margin of 6.7 seconds, securing Toyota's second consecutive clean sweep at the Safari Rally.

Amid the breathtaking scenery of Hell's Gate, President William Ruto presented Ogier and his co-driver Vincent Landais with their trophies as Ogier celebrated his second Safari victory.

Reflecting on the challenging rally, Ogier shared, "Unbelievable! Look at that, even on the Power Stage I got a stone on the windscreen!”

Elfyn Evans held on to finish third at the 2023 Safari Rally, Kenya | Photo Credit: Imago Images

“We had a lot of issues to face but it could have been a more comfortable rally for us in terms of pace.”

“A lot of misfortune, but we brought it home." His indomitable spirit and unwavering focus were evident throughout the event,” he added.

For runner-up Kalle Rovanperä, the Safari Rally felt like a personal victory. Despite missing out on the top spot, Rovanperä extended his lead in the championship by 37 points after the seventh round of thirteen.

He said: “You always want to fight for the win but we did our best starting first car on the road, so regarding that I think it's not fully bad. Good points for the season anyway.”

Takamoto Katsuta's hopes of securing a podium finish were dashed when his car's hybrid unit malfunctioned, hampering his performance.

The Japanese driver settled for fourth place overall, trailing behind teammate Elfyn Evans, who clinched third.

Hyundai’s Dani Sordo overcame power steering failure to secure fifth place, enduring a grueling weekend for the team who now trail Toyota by 42 points in the manufacturers' title race.

Unfortunately, early podium contender Esapekka Lappi experienced transmission issues with his i20 N, resulting in a disappointing finish.

Thierry Neuville, recovering from suspension failure earlier in the rally, could only muster an eighth-place finish.

M-Sport Ford Puma drivers Ott Tänak and Pierre-Louis Loubet faced tire troubles that prevented them from mounting a significant challenge. They settled for sixth and seventh place, respectively.

In the support category, Kajetan Kajetanowicz secured his second Kenyan WRC2 victory in a Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo, finishing in an impressive eighth place overall.

Esapeka Lappi was on a charge for a podium finish on his Safari Rally debut, but a broken propshaft ended all hope | Photo Credit: Imago Images

Oliver Solberg, although not eligible for points, showcased his talent and determination, claiming ninth place. Martin Prokop rounded off the top 10.

The FIA World Rally Championship will now shift its focus to Rally Estonia, where the super-fast gravel roads will serve as the battleground for round eight, taking place from July 20th to 23rd.