WRC Safari Rally Kenya has attracted 12 FIA World Rally Championship’s new hybrid-powered Rally1 cars which will debut on Kenya’s picturesque terrain on the weekend of June 23 – 26.
The star-studded 34-car field follows the close of the deadline for entries on May 23.
The state-of-the-art electrified hybrid era of the WRC is being run for the first time ever this season as part of the newly introduced FIA Rally Pyramid introduced at the start of the 2022 WRC season in Monte Carlo.
The FIA Rally Pyramid comprises Rally 1 which is the WRC car, Rally 2 (the former R5 cars), Rally 3, 4 and 5.
World champions Toyota Gazoo Racing will be featuring four GR Yaris Rally1 cars for defending champion and megastar Sébastien Ogier, Welshman Elfyn Evans, Japanese speedster Takamoto Kastuta and current WRC leader Kalle Rovanperä.
Ogier is teaming up with compatriot Benjamin Veillas for the first time on Kenyan soil following Julien Ingrassia’s retirement from the sport.
Ingrassia guided Ogier to a maiden Safari victory in Naivasha last year following their dramatic last minute comeback.
Estonian Ott Tänak, Belgian Thierry Neuville and flying Oliver Solberg will pilot the three Hyundai Motorsport’s i20 N Rally1 cars.
Neuville’s dreams of a maiden WRC Safari victory last year collapsed on the closing day’s opening Loldia speed test where the Belgian started the 11.33km stage with a lead of almost a minute in his Hyundai i20 over Takamoto Katsuta.
His hopes were shattered along with his car’s rear right suspension after he hit a rock midway through the test.
–Legend Loeb Back in Safari–
Five M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 cars have also been listed for the iconic event. The British squad’s line-up has Craig Breen, Jourdan Serderidis, Gus Greensmith, Adrien Fourmaux and nine-time champion Sébastien Loeb.
Loeb is returning to Kenya after two decades when he finished the 2002 WRC Safari in fifth overall spot. He will be co-driven by former safety note crew member Isabelle Galmiche.
Greensmith will be accompanied by Swede Jonas Andersson after the duo debuted together at the 2021’s season-closer.
Kenya National Rally Championship leader Karan Patel is listed in a 10-car WRC2 field alongside compatriots Raaji Singh Bharij (Skoda Fabia), Aakif Virani and Amaanraj Rai in a Skoda Fabia Evo.
Foreigners entered for Rally 2 include Martin Prokop of Czech Republic in a Ford Fiesta MKII, Sean Johnson of the USA in a Citroen C3, current FIA African Rally Championship leader Leroy Gomes of Zambia,
Another Rally2 Fabia is in the hands of Indian speedster Gaurav Gill who is teaming up with Brazilian Gabriel Morales.
WRC3 has five Ford Fiesta Rally 3s to be piloted by Kenya’s FIA Rally Stars McRae Kimathi, Hamza Anwar, Maxime Wahome and Jeremy Wahome while Paraguay’s Diego. Dominguez is also listed in the Fiesta the mix..
The National category has attracted seven cars, mainly Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Xs from Kenya.
Physically challenged Nikhil Sachania will be at the wheel of a hand- controlled Evolution X. Rwandese speedster Giancarlo Davite and Kenya’s Minesh Rathod are also listed in the National Category.
KCB Bank Kenya and Toyota Kenya are among the sponsors of WRC Safari Rally Kenya.