Hyundai Motorsport Safari Rally Kenya - Friday stages review

Hyundai Motorsport Safari Rally Kenya - Friday stages review

24.06.2022: • Hyundai Motorsport has endured a rocky start to Safari Rally Kenya, round six of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), but with some signs of promise



•    Hyundai Motorsport has endured a rocky start to Safari Rally Kenya, round six of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), but with some signs of promise


•    Ott Tänak, winner at the previous round in Sardinia, is fighting for another podium finish after wrestling his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 through the notoriously gruelling stages


•    Thierry Neuville battled hard in the sandy conditions to hold fifth spot, despite losing power in SS4, with Oliver Solberg in seventh place at the end of day one.
 



Hyundai Motorsport has ended a rollercoaster opening day at Safari Rally Kenya firmly in the hunt for a podium finish, as the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) returned to the iconic Kenyan landscape for round six of the 2022 season.
 


The 19-stage event, renowned for its punishing but iconic routes, got underway on Thursday evening with a 4.84km run through the Kasarani Super Special. Demands intensified on the first full day of action with incidents and issues up and down the classification as crews tried to tame the Safari.
 


Friday’s itinerary covered six special stages over a competitive distance of 124.20km. The repeated loop of Loldia (19.17km), Geothermal (11.68km) and Kedong (31.25km) perfectly captured the spirit, challenge, and drama of the rally. Kedong, the longest individual stage of the event, posed the fiercest competition with its treacherous rocks, notorious fesh-fesh and hanging dust that required crews to dig deep just to make it to the flying finish.
 


The second pass proved to be decisive in determining the end-of-day classification with Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja moving towards the podium positions, just 25.3 seconds adrift of the outright lead. The Estonians, who won the previous event in Sardinia, recovered ground during the day having had a gear lever issue on the opening test that left them down in tenth.
 


Belgians Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe struggled for traction in the morning loop. They also battled through a power issue in the first pass of Kedong, as sand and dust clogged up their engine air filter. A more representative afternoon allowed them to move into the top-five, with a reduced gap to the lead.
 


Oliver Solberg and Elliott Edmondson survived the day but struggled for pace in their Hyundai i20 N Rally1. The duo kept their focus to complete Friday in seventh overall and with room for improvement over the coming two days of intense action.
 




Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 N Rally1)


•    Estonian crew fixed a broken gear level on the opening loop


•    Strong, resilient run through Kedong moved them up into podium contention
 


Tänak said:
“At the beginning of the rally, we thought this would be the easiest day, but we’ve already been playing on the limit. It’s been a challenging survival day, and we’ve been fighting more with the rally itself than with our competitors. The first two stages of the loop were quite fun, and it was down to pure performance, but the final one was something else.


In the first 20km, it’s rocky and difficult to avoid the stones. We knew if we had a puncture there, we’d have no chance, so we just tried to get through cleanly. After that came 5-10km of fesh-fesh, you must keep full throttle through there despite not seeing anything, otherwise you get stuck. We need a vacuum cleaner on our lungs because it’s difficult to breathe. It’s important to keep going.”
 





Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1)


•    Belgian crew persevered with traction and power issues in the opening loop


•    Second fastest time through Kedong 2, even with a tyre off its rim, moved them up to fifth
 


Neuville said:
“A very challenging day for us; we obviously knew it would be hard but unfortunately, we got hit by some trouble on the first pass on the long stage, Kedong. We lost power as the air filter became blocked with sand and dust.


We dropped almost one minute of time with that, and down to ninth place. The target for the afternoon was to have a cleaner run, which we managed, and as a result we’ve moved back up to fifth. The gap to the lead is just under a minute and getting closer.



I’ve not been 100% happy with the handling of the car so far, which has limited us in the bumpy sections. I haven’t been able to go as fast as last year, but we’ll make some changes to try and improve. Tomorrow is the hardest, roughest day so we’ll have to be clever and avoid problems.”
 





Crew Notes: Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (#2 Hyundai i20 N Rally1)



•    Rough and rocky opening day for the crew in first WRC event since Croatia

•    Weekend objective is to bring the car home safely and without incident
 


Solberg said:
“I am very happy to get the car back to service at the end of this incredibly tough day. I would go as far as to say this last stage is the craziest one that I’ve ever driven in my entire life. I’ve struggled a lot today, to be honest. The car hasn’t felt good for me, but we survived with no mistakes, which remains the aim for this weekend.



The driving itself feels OK when it’s nice and flowing, and you can push a bit, but when it’s rocky it’s something else. This is still a very long event, and tomorrow looks set to be even more demanding in a different way. Seventh place is nothing when we have so much ahead; we hope to climb further up the leader board.”
 



Deputy Team Director Julien Moncet said: “It has not been the best possible start to this rally. Ott had a gear lever issue this morning which, thanks to the dexterity of the car crew, they managed to fix and minimise the time loss. They are back in the game and in the podium fight. Thierry on the other hand suffered an ingestion of dust and sand in the air filter that led to a sudden engine performance loss.


Oliver has struggled with the car balance but has also followed his plan to stay out of trouble. All in all, we knew this rally would be tough – and it is proving to be just that – but it is also far from being over. We’re happy to have our three cars back safely at the end of day one; there’s still every chance for a good result here so we will come back even stronger tomorrow.”
 




Saturday at a glance



•    Safari Rally Kenya continues with six more demanding stages on Saturday – Soysambu (29.32km), Elmenteita (15.08km) and Sleeping Warrior (31.04km) will each be run twice



•    Lunchtime service separates the two loops which total 150km of distance
 



Classification after Day One

 
1    K. Rovanperä    J. Halttunen    Toyota GR Yaris Rally1    1:20:58.1
2    T. Katsuta    A. Johnston    Toyota GR Yaris Rally1    +14.6
3    E. Evans    S. Martin    Toyota GR Yaris Rally1    +22.4
4    O. Tänak     M. Järveoja    Hyundai i20 N Rally1    +25.3
5    T. Neuville     M. Wydaeghe    Hyundai i20 N Rally1    +57.5
6    S. Ogier    B. Veillas    Toyota GR Yaris Rally1    +2:08.2
7    O. Solberg    E. Edmondson    Hyundai i20 N Rally1    +4:27.1



 
Thomas Villette,    Nicoletta Russo photos Hyundai






 

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/hyundai-motorsport-safari-rally-kenya-friday-stages---239140.html

24.06.2022 / MaP

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