Ogier wins Safari Rally Kenya - First WRC podium for Katsuta

Ogier wins Safari Rally Kenya – First WRC podium for Katsuta

Sébastien Ogier has won the Safari Rally Kenya to extend his championship lead. Takamoto Katsuta took his first ever WRC podium.

The final day of the event began with drama as the rear-right damper failed on rally leader Thierry Neuville’s Hyundai. The Belgian managed to finish the stage but couldn’t continue with the broken damper. It’s the third time in a row that a Hyundai retires from the lead with suspension problems.

Takamoto Katsuta inherited the lead of the event after Neuville’s drama. It was Katsuta’s first time to lead a WRC-rally. Sébastien Ogier wasn’t far behind the Japanese driver and pushed hard. With two stages to go, Ogier and Katsuta were joint leaders of the rally after more than 3 hours of rallying.

Adrien Fourmaux took his first ever WRC stage win in SS16, which also marks the first stage win of the season for M-Sport.

Ogier showed great pace in the penultimate stage to win the stage, but crucially was 8.3 seconds faster than Katsuta to lead the rally by the same 8.3 seconds heading ino the Power Stage.

Tänak takes Power Stage win

Hyundai’s Ott Tänak won the Power Stage to take five bonus points. The Estonian leaves Kenya with 20 points in total. Rovanperä, Evans, and Ogier finished second, third and fourth in the Power Stage respectively. Dani Sordo took the final Power Stage point.

More importantly for Ogier is the rally win. It’s the seven-time champion’s fourth win of the season. Takamoto Katsuta took his first ever WRC-podium with P2 in Kenya. Tänak ends the rally in third for Hyundai, more than a minute down on Ogier. Adrien Fourmaux managed to pass his team-mate Gus Greensmith on the final day to take fourth overall. Kalle Rovanperä finishes the rally in sixth ahead of WRC3-winner and local hero Onkar Rai.

Rai’s fellow countrymen Karan Patel and Carl Tundo become eight and ninth respectively. Elfyn Evans takes tenth despite retiring early on Friday morning.

Ogier extends championship lead to 34 points

The finish of Safari Rally Kenya marks the halfway point of the season. Sébastien Ogier extends his lead to 34 points with his victory. Elfyn Evans is still second, 22 points ahead of Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville. Neuville is now 56 points behind Ogier in the battle for the world title.

Ott Tänak stays fourth with 69 points, 8 points behind Neuville and 3 points ahead of Takamoto Katsuta. Kalle Rovanperä is sixth, 10 points adrift of Katsuta. M-Sport drivers Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux are joint seventh in the championship with 32 points. Dani Sordo and Craig Breen close out the top 10 with 31 and 24 points respectively.

In the Manufacturers’ championship extends Toyota its lead over Hyundai. The Japanese manufacturer has a 59 point advantage after six rallies.

Next up on the WRC calender is Rally Estonia from 15 – 18 July.

WRC Safari Rally Kenya 2021 Results

#DriversCarTime / Diff. to 1st
1.Ogier / IngrassiaToyota Yaris WRC3:18:11.3
2.Katsuta / BarrittToyota Yaris WRC+21.8
3.Tänak / JärveojaHyundai i20 Coupé WRC+1:09.5
4.Fourmaux / JamoulFord Fiesta WRC+1:44.7
5.Greensmith / PattersonFord Fiesta WRC+1:54.6
6.Rovanperä / HalttunenToyota Yaris WRC+10:53.4
7.Rai / SturrockVolkswagen Polo GTI R5+29:26.4
8.Patel / KhanFord Fiesta R5+33:33.4
9.Tundo / JessopVolkswagen Polo GTI R5+36:40.7
10.Evans / MartinToyota Yaris WRC+49:22.7

WRC Drivers’ Championship standings 2021 after Round 6/12 [Top 10]

1.Sébastien Ogier133
2.Elfyn Evans99
3.Thierry Neuville77
4.Ott Tänak69
5.Takamoto Katsuta66
6.Kalle Rovanperä56
7.Gus Greensmith32
8.Adrien Fourmaux32
9.Dani Sordo31
10.Craig Breen24

WRC Manufacturers’ Championship standings after Round 6/12

1.Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT273
2.Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT214
3.M-Sport Ford WRT109
4.Hyundai 2C Compétition28

Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC