Neuville In Control As Safari Rally Takes Toll
Thierry Neuville holds a slender lead on Safari Rally after Friday afternoon’s Kedong 2 (SS6) but the big talking point so far has been the accidents that sent big names led by Elfyn Evans out of the race.
Evans, who had been running in fourth overall after two stages in Africa, clouted a rock on the inside of a fast right bend which shattered the front right wheel and suspension on his Toyota Yaris.
The high-speed gravel event also saw Dani Sordo retiring at the same SS3 stage after his Hyudai i20 over-steered sideways off the stage and ploughed through the vegetation before coming to rest in a ditch.
For Oliver Solberg, he suffered suspension problems in Chui Lodge and despite working furiously to make repairs, while Lorenzo Bertelli was sidelined during the rugged and sandy speed tests on the southern shore of Lake Naivasha.
Despite being in the lead, Neuville in his Hyundai i20, was not spared by mishaps as he had a slow puncture though still pushing harder than his rivals with a 10sec lead.
“There was a little bit of drama with the punctures but we were able to manage and get back to service. It was a tough day but tomorrow is going to be another tough day. We have learned a lot and we need to introduce that tomorrow to avoid such small problems,” he said.
Kalle Rovanpera is holding the second position while Ott Tänak is in third position having been 5.1s slower than Neuville.
Kenyan driver Tejveer Rai, elsewhere, was the first to crash out of the rally on the initial Kedong run before he was airlifted to Nairobi for treatment.
He is the current leader of the Kenya National Rally Championship ahead of his teammate Baldev Chager and younger sibling Onkar Rai.
Onkar ended the day seventh overall with a 2min 55.1sec advantage in WRC3.
“It’s a dream come true,” beamed Onkar. “ I never imagined I would be in the top 10 of a WRC rally. Obviously we want to go to the end, there’s still a massive way to go.
“Once the big cars go through, it’s almost undriveable in places. But again, it’s Safari, and it’s the same for everyone. I’m just happy that the big boys are back,” he added.
Leading positions after SS6
1 Neuville/Wydaeghe 1h09m47.2s
2 Rovanperä/Halttunen +10.0s
3 Tänak/Järveoja +40.7s
4 Katsuta/Barritt +58.6s
5 Greensmith/Patterson +2m27.0s
6 Ogier/Ingrassia +2m29.2s
7 Adrien Fourmaux/Renaud Jamoul (M-Sport Ford) +2m55.6s
8 Onkar Rai/Drew Sturrock (Volkswagen) +10m47.4s
9 Daniel Chwist/Kamil Heller (Ford) +21m39.1s
10 Karan Patel/Tauseef Khan (Ford) +22m14.0s
Additional Information: WRC