Sebastien Ogier Pulls Ahead In WRC Safari Rally Opener
Sebastien Ogier started off his WRC Safari Rally title defence on a high after beating rival Thierry Neuville in the Super Stage at Kasarani on Thursday.
The Toyota Yaris driver was on top of his game as he completed 4.84km test in 3:18.8 while winning head-to-head run against Hyundai’s Neuville by five-tenths of a second.
Ogier was happy with his performance saying he is looking forward to enjoy the Africa’s landscapes and culture.
“It’s very colourful here and the people in this country give us amazing support,” said Ogier, who is the eight-time world champion. “The challenge is big. It’s not the kind of rally I usually love because it’s going to be really rough, but we will try to survive it.”
World championship leader Kalle Rovanperä finished 11th after making wide run on the first left-hand bend and almost rolled his GR Yaris. In all he lost 11.6 seconds to team-mate Ogier.
“I was a bit on the limit under braking,” he explained. “Nothing really happened, but we had a puncture. That was a big shame, but it’s a long rally and we will try to focus on the week ahead now.”
The Super Special Stage saw two competitors start at the same time and drive head-to-head on the super special stage.
Earlier, the Safari Rally was flagged off from the start at the Kenyatta Conference Centre by Kenyan President, His Excellency Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta and Dr. Amina Mohammed, Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Heritage and Culture of Kenya.
The Safari Rally proceeds to Naivaisha where they will battle through 18 competitive stages covering 320.19 km from Friday to Sunday.
1 Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas (Toyota) 3m18.8s
2 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +0.6s
3 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +1.1s
4 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +1.2s
5 Sébastien Loeb/Isabella Galmiche (M-Sport Ford) +1.8s
6 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +1.9s
7 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +4.4s
8 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +4.7s
9 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Hyundai) +5.8s
10 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +7.1s
11 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +9.5s