Ogier wins opener as Safari Rally makes thrilling return


Ogier wins opener as Safari Rally makes thrilling return
Sebastien Ogier navigated by Julien Ingrassia driving Toyota Yaris during the WRC Safari Rally Kenya shakedown at Loldia in Naivasha on June 23, 2021. (PHOTO/Evans Odari/Sportpicha)

In Summary

  • Seven-time world champion and current FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) leader Sebastian Ogier won Safari Rally's curtain-raising Super Special stage in Kasarani as the four-day racing bonanza revved off on Thursday
  • The Frenchman took a time of 3.21.5 minutes to cover the 4.84km stretch followed by his Toyota Yaris team-mate Kalle Rovanperä (3.21.8) of Finland and Elfyn Rhys Evans (3.22.2) of Wales

Seven-time world champion and current FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) leader Sebastian Ogier won Safari Rally’s curtain-raising Super Special stage in Kasarani as the four-day racing bonanza revved off on Thursday.

The Frenchman took a time of 3.21.5 minutes to cover the 4.84km stretch followed by his Toyota Yaris team-mate Kalle Rovanperä (3.21.8) of Finland and Elfyn Rhys Evans (3.22.2) of Wales.

Ott Tänak was fourth with Thierry Neuville 5.0sec off the pace in fifth and Takamoto Katsuta completing the top six.

Kenyan representatives Karani Patel and Carl Tundo finished 13th and 14th clocking a time of 3.42.6 and 3.43.3 respectively, other Kenyan representatives Tajveer Rai and Onkar Rai finishing 16th and 17th respectively .

The stage followed the opening ceremony at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, where President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged away the competitors.

Mr Uhuru said he was proud to see the iconic event return to the global circuit, nine years after his personal pledge to deliver the Safari Rally back to the WRC.

Fans that lined up across various watch points were treated to a thrilling opening of the event that was marking its return to the WRC for the first time since 2002.

Special applause was reserved for Kenyan legends like Ian Duncan, who drove the car Zero. The FIA production teamwas on top gear with camera shots from their roving choppers that broadcast Ngomongo, Baba Dogo and Lucky Summer to the whole world.

FIA took full control of the broadcast rights with no one allowed to film or take pictures for another media hour and an alien drone was detected and brought down immediately by the security personnel.

With Mr Uhuru expected to attend the security and tight from State House to the CBD and beyond with most highways zoned off for the better part of the afternoon.

A total 58 rally drivers including 34 Kenyan racers are set to participate in the event whose route includes Elementaita, Soysambu, Sleeping Warrior, Loldia, Malewa and Kedong.

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Story By John Kyanda
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