Frenchman Ogier shows rivals dust at Kasarani stage

MOTORSPORT |
Sebastien Ogier navigated by Julien Ingrassia during the WRC Safari Rally Kenya shakedown at Loldia in Naivasha on June 23, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

World champion Sebastien Ogier clocked 3:21.5 to win the WRC Safari Rally Super Special Stage at Kasarani, Nairobi yesterday.

The French speed merchant went head to head against perennial rival Ott Tanak of Estonia in the opening seconds of the adrenaline filled race.

Ogier proved why he’s the seven time champion with jaw dropping drifts, jumps, and sweeping curves that beat Tanak to the tape in the 4.48km circuit.

“This is a warning that tough times are ahead for my opponents,” Ogier said.

“Tomorrow is going to be the real start. It has been amazing to see so much crowd. Tomorrow some tough stuff is coming,” he added.

Tanak, the 2019 WRC champion, finished fourth.

Ogier’s victory at the panoramic Kasarani course is a boost to the Toyota Gazoo Racing team that is looking forward to bag the drivers title and the manufacturer gong this season.

“I’m here in Kenya to win the Safari Rally, bag the WRC title and exit the rally scene next year,” Ogier told Standard Sports when he jetted into the country on Sunday night. Ogier’s team-mate,

Kalle Rovanpera clocked 3.21.8 to emerge second in the thrilling Kasarani round.

[Photo: Courtesy]

Hundreds of spectators cheered him on as his roaring Toyota Yaris swam in dust under the clear blue Nairobi skies to beat Hyundai’s Dani Sordo to the finish line.

“Everything went well, it was a fine race for me,” said Rovanpera whose pace-notes were called out by Jonne Haltunnen.

Elfyn Evans of Wales, also of Toyota, was third. He raced against Thierry Neuville of Hyundai who emerged fifth.

Takamoto Katsuta (+5.6), Gus Greensmith (+6.1) and Oliver Solberg (7.9) finished in that order.

“The race was very safe, I’m happy,” said Katsuta who went abreast with Gus before beating the latter at the tape.

Solberg, 19, who was the latest inclusion in the Hyundai team to Kenya, said his perfomance gave him a fantastic reason to look forward to the charged weekend.

Other thrilling races pitted Kenyan duo of  Hamza Anwar and McRae Kimathi, and Carl Tundo and Onkar Rai among others.

The Kasarani stage followed a colourful opening ceremony in central Nairobi, with competitors flagged off by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Sports, Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohamed.

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