TOYOTA GAZOO races to Africa

SAFARI RALLY KENYA: Preview

TOKYO, June 17, 2022 – (JCN Newswire) – The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team travels to Safari Rally Kenya from June 23-26 aiming to defend its crown at the legendary African event.

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2022 GR YARIS Rally1

The Safari made a long-awaited comeback on the FIA ​​World Rally Championship calendar in 2021 as Sebastien Ogier spearheaded a one-two for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. Ogier is making Kenya its third WRC appearance of the 2022 season as the team seeks a 10th win at the event for the Japanese marque.

The team’s first priority is a return to the podium after a challenging previous round in Sardinia, although Kalle Rovanpera still left the Italian island after extending his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 55 points. Both Rovanpera and Elfyn Evans will be motivated for the trip to Kenya after experiencing the pitfalls of their debuts there last year. Takamoto Katsuta, on the other hand, travels back to the scene of his first podium finish (having finished second behind Ogier a year ago) as he looks to continue his scoring streak in 2022 for TGR WRT Next Generation.

Having previously featured impossibly long stages on roads that were still open to the public, today’s Safari Rally runs in a similar format to other modern WRC events. Still, drivers and cars face incredibly challenging gravel tracks with some very rough and rocky sections, while the weather has the potential to change conditions dramatically in a very short space of time.

The shakedown takes place on Wednesday before the rally begins in the capital Nairobi on Thursday noon, with the nearby Kasarani Super Special kicking off the competition. The remainder of the weekend is focused on the service park on the shores of Lake Naivasha, about 100 kilometers to the north-west. Repeated on Friday, the three-stage loop around the lake includes a brand new test, geothermal, as well as the longest of the weekend: the 31.25 kilometers from Kedong. Saturday takes place further north near Lake Elmenteita with two passes of three known stages from 2021, although Soysambu has been extended and Elmenteita itself is ridden in the opposite direction as before. A trio of stages south of Naivasha will all be run twice to form Sunday’s final day, including the new Narasha Test and Hell’s Gate, where the Power Stage takes place at the end of the rally.

Quotes:

Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“It was exciting to have the Safari Rally back on the calendar last year and although the rally is very different than before, the spirit of the event is the same: it’s more about endurance than absolute speed. At a certain point it looked like it would be difficult for us to even get on the podium and we ended up taking a one-two. So again this year we have to be prepared for anything that can happen and it will be another big test for the Rally1 cars. The conditions can look good on reconnaissance and then turn out to be very challenging on the rally. It’s not rough all the time but you can get quite a few big ruts with lots of really soft and sandy spots. But all four of our drivers can draw on the experience they’ve had over the past year and have an idea of ​​what to expect.”

Sebastien Ogier (driver car 1)
“I am looking forward to returning to Kenya. Last year we had a really nice welcome and a great atmosphere. It was something special and different from what we are used to. Winning was icing on the cake and it will be great to try and repeat that this year with a little knowledge of what to expect from the stages. We saw that it can be a very tough rally. I think almost everyone has had a problem at some point and we came back over two minutes down to win. So it’s definitely a never give up rally and this year with the new cars we may have to be even smarter than before.”

Elfyn Evans (Driver Car 33)
“Although we have experience from last year, it’s always difficult to know exactly what to expect at an event like Safari Rally. There is always an element of the unknown and we saw last year that conditions can change massively from one area to the next. Some sections can be very soft sand, some parts are much harder and in other places it is very rough. It’s a big challenge for the drivers, for the cars and also for the engineers. I’ve had a good feeling with the GR YARIS Rally1 on gravel so far and the speed was there. Safari requires something different in terms of setup, but I hope this positive feeling continues.”

Kalle Rovanpera (driver Car 69)
“I think the Safari Rally will be another interesting weekend. Of course Sardinia might not have been as strong a rally for us as we would have liked, but I hope that we might not lose so much time in Kenya opening the road and we can try to have a good weekend. Last year it was a good rally for us overall, we just had a bit of bad luck getting stuck at the end of Friday. This year we will try to avoid things like that and approach the event better because we see a lot of difficult conditions there and things that we don’t normally see in modern rallies. So it sure is a special place, and you need to approach it a little bit differently too.

Please visit www.wrc.com for the latest information.

Source: Toyota Motor Corp

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