Safari Rally Kenya – Day Three Report

Safari Rally Kenya – Day Three Report

Naivasha, Kenya – March 31, 2024
Hyundai Motorsport has enjoyed a strong final day at Safari Rally Kenya, the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), where Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville finished first and second in the Super Sunday standings.
All three Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crews demonstrated strong pace in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid across the six remaining tests, taking four 1-2-3 stage finishes – including the Power Stage.
It was the first time in four visits to Safari Rally Kenya that the team locked out the top three positions in a stage, marking a step forward in Hyundai Motorsport’s competitiveness at the event.
Safari Rally Kenya featured the longest Super Sunday of the season so far with a competitive distance of 74.38km.
Two runs of Malewa (SS14/17, 8.33km), Oserengoni (SS15/18, 18.33km) and Hell’s Gate (SS16/20, 10.53km) concluded the event.
Once again, it was not a trouble-free run for the crews.
Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe claimed a stage win on SS14 Malewa 1 but went into mid-day service with a broken wishbone following a run-in with a large rock.
After successful repairs to their car, the Belgians went on to secure their second stage win on the repeat of Malewa.
A wild run to a third stage win of the day on the Power Stage was a final flourish in a spectacular recovery drive from the crew’s issues on Saturday.
Neuville finished fifth overall, with his solid haul of points maintaining his position at the top of the drivers’ standings.
In a bid to maximise points from Sunday, both Tänak/Martin Järveoja and Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm carried only one spare tyre in the morning loop.
Tänak and Martin Järveoja were second fastest on every stage, and continued this trend in the final three stages.
Victory on SS18 Oserengoni 2 and second in the Power Stage saw the Estonians top the Super Sunday standings and classify eighth overall, scoring them 12 points from the event.
Tänak has also gained a place in the drivers’ standings and now sits in fourth.
Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were third fastest on SS14 – the first Hyundai Motorsport 1-2-3 of the day – despite nursing a puncture.
A difficult weekend for the Finns worsened as they picked up a transmission problem on the following stages, yet the #4 crew was able to bounce back to help bring home three more Hyundai Motorsport stage lock-outs.
Just four points separate Hyundai Motorsport from first place in the manufacturers’ standings as the WRC returns to Europe next month for the fourth round of the season, Croatia Rally.

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)
Belgians led three 1-2-3s on Sunday to bring stage win total to five
Neuville remains first in drivers’ battle with six point advantage
Neuville said: “A good weekend, but for sure we could have done better. Unfortunately we got hit by some problems but despite this, we kept fighting. Today there was an opportunity to take loads of points – we scored 11 out of 12, so we’re satisfied to be the second best performer today. We would have loved to get more, especially after three consecutive difficult years here in Kenya. Still room for improvement but we have managed to increase the lead in the championship and got a good road position for Croatia. On to the next one!”

Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)
Estonians top Super Sunday standings after superb drive
Bounced back from Friday issues to move into fourth in drivers’ standings
Tänak said: “Our target was always not to push to the maximum, but to aim for the podium with a clean run, so our retirement on Friday was of course frustrating. Although we had to face a number of issues in the car and on the road our troubles had nothing to do with reliability. Our pace is definitely getting closer to the others. Croatia will be a completely different rally even to Monte-Carlo, so let’s see how we do. We want to get back on track; the championship is very young but we need to get back into our normal rhythm.”

Crew Notes: Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (#4 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)
Finns continued to show strong speed with four top-three finishes
Crew recovered from Friday retirement to score four points on Sunday
Lappi said: “The speed this weekend was good from the beginning, even yesterday when we were opening the road, so we need to be pleased with that. All of our cars were quite competitive in terms of pace but unfortunately reliability was not with us this weekend and that is reflected in the results. At least my team-mates were able to get a lot of points from today and it was great to get that 1-2-3 in the Power Stage. I am looking forward to my next event with the team.”

Hyundai Motorsport President and Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “Teamwork is probably the key word of the weekend at an event that always presents a number of challenges for crews, but unfortunately a bit more for ours. Some of them were a natural part of Safari Rally Kenya but others were self-inflicted by residual weaknesses of our cars. Our pace has been very good and on par with our closest competitor at an event where we were so behind last year – it is good to see the progress we have achieved in less than a year. It is down to the fantastic work over winter at the factory, but recovering from all of the chaos we faced over the course of this weekend has been down to the great teamwork and long hours from everyone here pushing and keeping their heads up. I particularly loved that final 1-2-3 from our crews; it is a demonstration of the capabilities of our car, but also of the mindset that must prevail in this championship in any given situation.”

Next rally
Croatia Rally marks a return to tarmac for the fourth round of the 2024 season, which will take place April 18-21.

Final Overall Classification – Safari Rally Kenya
1 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid 3:36.04.0
2 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +1:37.8
3 A. Fourmaux A. Coria Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +2:25.1
4 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +4:20.2
5 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +10:17.5
6 G. Greensmith J. Andersson Škoda Fabia RS +18:05.4
7 O. Solberg E. Edmondson Škoda Fabia RS +19:28.5
8 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +21:02.0
9 J. Serderidis F. Miclotte Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +26:13.3
10 K. Kajetanowicz M. Szczepaniak Škoda Fabia RS +26:34.4

2024 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings
After round 3
1 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team 131
2 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 127
3 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 72

2024 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings
After round 3
1 T. Neuville 67
2 E. Evans 61
3 A. Fourmaux 46
4 O. Tänak 33
5 K. Rovanperä 31
6 T. Katsuta 30
8 E. Lappi 23
9 O. Solberg 12
10 A. Mikkelsen 6

All results remain subject to official FIA confirmation.

Hyundai Motorsport

 

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