TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has achieved an incredible clean sweep of the top four positions on Safari Rally Kenya for the second year in succession: Sébastien Ogier winning the epic African event ahead of team-mates Kalle Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta.
TGR-WRT remains unbeaten on the toughest round of the FIA World Rally Championship since it returned to the calendar in 2021, with Toyota’s all-time Safari record now extended to 11 victories – 10 of those achieved as part of the WRC.
The 1-2-3-4 finish comes 30 years to the month since Toyota first recorded such a result in Kenya with the Celica ST185, something it repeated with the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID in 2022. It’s the first time any manufacturer has managed the feat on the same WRC round on three separate occasions, or to do it in two successive editions of a rally.
Ogier’s second Safari success in three years is also his third victory from five starts so far this season together with co-driver Vincent Landais. They led ever since the first full-length stage of the rally on Friday morning, and came into Sunday with a lead of 16.7 seconds over last year’s Safari winners, Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen.
Six stages and 74.38 competitive kilometres remained on the final day and the top two crews continued to put on an exciting battle for the victory. Rovanperä halved Ogier’s advantage in the morning’s first stage before Ogier recovered that ground in the next test, despite losing the rear wing and tailgate from his car. This was repaired in the final service ahead of the last three stages, which still provided significant challenges with soft sand and deep ruts. Ogier’s final winning margin was just 6.7 seconds: the smallest ever in Safari history, on an event usually decided by whole minutes.
Having set the third-best time in the rally-ending Power Stage to take three bonus points, Rovanperä increases his championship lead from 25 to 37 points following the mid-point event of the 13-round season.
Evans is now up to third in the standings, 41 from the lead, after he and co-driver Scott Martin made the Safari podium for the second year in a row. They also started Sunday with an advantage of 16.7s, this time over Katsuta and Aaron Johnston, and managed to extend that to 25.3s over the course of the day.
Katsuta nonetheless drove another strong Safari with the support of the TGR WRC Challenge Program, putting a roll in Wednesday’s pre-event shakedown behind him to contend for a third successive podium in Kenya and ultimately clinch his best finish of the season so far.
Following its fifth win of the year, TGR-WRT has now increased its manufacturers’ championship lead to 42 points.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“I’m really proud of this result, of this team, and of our drivers. Coming to Kenya this year I didn’t think we could achieve a 1-2-3-4 again when the competition has been so tight recently. But I think it is not a coincidence that we have managed to do this result here two years in a row. It means we have done things right in the team to prepare for this event, that our crews have done a great job, and that all comes together to make this result possible. On this rally, you firstly need a car that is reliable and can take the punishment from these roads, and then you start to look for the performance. This philosophy that our team has had is absolutely the right approach and it shows in the results. This year we also had close competition between our drivers and there were maybe some tensions when it got tighter, but this is normal: we want drivers that have the passion to win. They can’t all win all at the same time, but I’m sure they will all see what an achievement this result is.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, SAFARI RALLY KENYA
1 Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) 3h30m42.5s
2 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +6.7s
3 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +2m58.5s
4 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +3m23.8s
5 Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +5m05.4s
6 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +9m14.4s
7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +16m15.7s
8 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +24m47.0s
9 Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +26m33.4s
10 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +27m04.0s
(Results as of 15:30 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Rally Estonia (July 20-23) is the first part of a double-header on fast gravel roads in the north of Europe. The stages around Tartu combine wide and narrow sections and a soft and sandy surface that can become rutted for the second pass.
Press Release Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT