World Champion Ogier Among 58 Drivers Entered For Safari Rally
World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier is among 58 drivers enlisted for the WRC Safari Rally Kenya which gets underway in Nairobi on June 24.
Ogier, who is fresh from wining the fifth scoring round of WRC in Italy, has been listed along other top drivers from three factory teams in Rally1 cars; Toyota, Ford, and Hyundai.
Kalle Rovanpera of Finland in a Toyota Yaris Rally1 is the youngest in the race at the age of 20 while Sobieslow Zasada, 2nd in 1972 Safari Rally, and last here in 1997 is the oldest aged 91, according to information released by the rally organizers.
Equator Rally champion Carl Tundo and his regular navigator Tim Jessop in a VW Polo Rally2 is one of the top Kenyans in the race, with others in this category being Onkar Rai (VW Polo), Tejveer Rai (VW Polo) and Karan Patel(Ford Fiesta).
Kenya national champion Baldev Chager (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO10), Eric Bengi (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10) and McRae Kimathi (Subaru Impreza N12) are the top leaders in the R3 class.
“The stages are very fast in places,” explained a rally organiser. “We have all seen images of the cars flat-out across the African Plains, but the route also contains plenty of tricky and rocky sections.
“We expect to see high average speeds on the event, but in places the cars will have to drop to a walking pace to navigate tougher terrain. It will certainly test the strength of the cars and the wits of the crews,” they added.
Competitors will be flagged away from the ceremonial start at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Crews will tackle the Kasarani Super Special Stage on Thursday for two laps of side-by-side action on the custom-built track before negotiating over 300km of grueling stages over the following three days.
Last time the East African country hosted the event was July 2002 before FIA announced that the Safari would not feature in the global circuit because the Kenyan government had not given necessary guarantees for the event.
The Safari was notorious for being the WRC’s toughest round as open-road gravel tracks, unpredictable weather and a route three times longer than other rallies created hazards unmatched elsewhere.
Additional Information: WRC website