The Rally Safari officially started in the early afternoon today with Special Stage 1, the 4.84 kilometer long Kasarani Super Special. It was a 1-on-1 test, made spectacular by the ground – red and crumbly earth – and by the presence of the Nairobi public who was able to enjoy a good show.
But it was not just a catwalk for the riders, but the first competitive test of the 18 scheduled for this weekend. The Toyota started strong thanks to a more aggressive tire strategy than the Hyundai.
The Yaris were all equipped with 4 Soft tires plus one spare. The Hyundai, on the other hand, preferred to rely on Hard tires (plus an unused spare Soft) to keep the 8 Scorpion KX Soft tires available to every driver this weekend in the game bag.
This diametrically opposite tire choice gave the Japanese manufacturer the first special hat-trick, with Sébastien Ogier just 3 tenths of a second faster than his first teammate, Kalle Rovanpera.
Behind them is Elfyn Evans with the third official Yaris. The first 3 are enclosed in just 7 tenths of a second, which denotes how close the performance of the three cars built at the Jyvaskyla site is.
Hyundai placed two i20 Coupé WRCs in fourth and fifth place. These are Ott Tanak, 2 “5 behind Ogier, and Neuville, 5” behind the World Championship leader. The Estonian test was linear, while the Belgian made a mistake by finishing wide in a right-handed corner.
Thus, Neuville found himself a couple of meters off the roadway and lost at least a couple of seconds – but probably more – precisely because of this flaw. Just outside the Top 5 we find the fourth Toyota Yaris, that of Takamoto Katsuta, half a second faster than Gus Greensmith’s Ford Fiesta WRC Plus.
This weekend the British driver is back with Chris Patterson as co-driver and today’s sixth place looks promising. Eighth time for Oliver Solberg with the fourth Hyundai i20 Coupé. The Norwegian-Swede is making his debut at the wheel of a WRC Plus car on the dirt road, so this weekend he will be called to gain experience for the rest of his career.
Excellent start to the race for our Lorenzo Bertelli. The Italian driver of the Fuckmatié team took the ninth time in front of riders of the caliber of Adrien Fourmaux, this weekend second M-Sport holder on the Fiesta Plus, and a Dani Sordo who arrived furiously at the finish line of the special.
The Iberian of Hyundai is out of the Top 10. He is in 11th position ahead of the first R5 car, that of Martin Prokop and Jurka Zdenek. This is due to an error during the test, but probably also due to the dust that seems to have particularly damaged it in the second part of the short Kasarani test.
Rally Safari 2021 will resume tomorrow with the second special stage, the 13.34 kilometer Chui Lodge 1. The first car, the Toyota Yaris WRC Plus number 1 of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, will enter the special at 07:09 Italian time.
Rally Safari – Ranking after PS1
|Pos.||Pilot / navigator||Car||Time / posting|
|1||Ogier / Ingrassia||Toyota Yaris WRC||3’21 “5|
|2||Rovanpera / Halttunen||Toyota Yaris WRC||+0 “3|
|3||Evans / Martin||Toyota Yaris WRC||+0 “7|
|4||Tanak / Jarveoja||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+2 “5|
|5||Neuville / Wydaeghe||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+5 “0|
|6||Katsuta / Barritt||Toyota Yaris WRC||+5 “6|
|7||Greensmith / Patterson||Ford Fiesta WRC||+6 “1|
|8||Solberg / Johnston||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+7 “9|
|9||Bertelli / Scattolin||Ford Fiesta WRC||+9 “0|
|10||Fourmaux / Jamoul||Ford Fiesta WRC||+9 “6|