Rally: Savannah duel of the Super-Sébs – How To Cars
Since 2021, the factory teams have been traveling again, or in Swahili, on safari. It used to run more than 5,000 kilometers through Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. This coming weekend (June 23-26) it’s less than 400 kilometers around Lake Naivasha about 100 kilometers north of Nairobi.
Nevertheless, the Safari Rally Kenya is still considered by far the toughest gravel event in the world championship. With a correspondingly high failure rate for the comeback in 2021. “We still won despite an initial deficit of two minutes. That would not be possible at any other rally,” recalls Toyota works driver Sébastien Ogier, who has legitimately heired Loeb to the throne with eight titles since 2013.
Like compatriot Loeb, Ogier no longer contests the entire World Cup. Loeb is now concentrating on desert rallies such as the legendary “Dakar” and the Extreme E electric off-road racing series. Two weeks ago, Ogier celebrated its premiere at the 24-hour race in Le Mans.
Now, however, all factory teams are starting from scratch: The new Rally1 cars with over 500 hp hybrid drive introduced for the 2022 season face the challenge of brutal Kenyan slopes with soccer-sized stones, knee-deep fine dust (fesh-fesh) and due to the recent rains even deeper water crossings. “I think we have to drive even more intelligently than last year,” muses Ogier. “Tire damage could become an issue,” fears Loeb, who only knows the current route from training.
TV tip Safari Rally Kenya
The World Rally Championship website (www.wrc.com) streams all special stages live on the Internet, the service is chargeable. Servus TV (www.servustv.com/Sports) broadcasts one special stage each on Friday and Saturday and two stages on Sunday live on the Internet and on free TV.