Safari Rally Kenya – Day Two Report

Safari Rally Kenya – Day Two Report
Naivasha, Kenya – March 30, 2024
It has been a Saturday full of twists and turns for Hyundai Motorsport at Safari Rally Kenya, round three of the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), as technical gremlins halted Thierry Neuville’s podium charge.
The event remained as unpredictable as ever as crews tackled three tough and gruelling stages that offered little respite: Soysambu (SS8/11, 29.32km), Elmenteita (SS9/12, 15.08km) and Sleeping Warrior (SS10/13, 36.08km).
Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe had a strong, clean morning as they hunted down the provisional podium places.
The Belgians moved into third overall after the opening stage before further closing the gap with a stage win on SS9 Elmenteita 1.
Their team-mates Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were also on the pace, delivering a Hyundai Motorsport 1-2 in stage – despite picking up their second of three punctures of the morning.
It was a character-building run for Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja, who had to communicate the pace notes through hand signals after issues with their intercom.
Following the first attempt of Sleeping Warrior, Neuville and Wydaeghe were in second place heading into the afternoon loop.
Unfortunately, their forward trajectory then stalled with the emergence of an intermittent fuel supply issue.
The Belgians had to stop several times to reset and continue, dropping them out of the podium places.
The crew is now fifth with six stages remaining to be contested.
A clean afternoon for Tänak and Järveoja ended with a flourish, as the #8 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crew claimed a stage win on the repeat of Sleeping Warrior.
Their steady pace throughout the day has moved the Estonians back into the top ten overall.
After a consistent run through SS11 and SS12, Lappi and Ferm’s windscreen broke following impact with birds in the final stage of the day, forcing them to carefully navigate the remaining kilometres at reduced speed; the Finns are 13th in the classification.
With a long final day remaining at a punishing rally, nothing is guaranteed.
Hyundai Motorsport will focus on securing as many points as possible from a successful Super Sunday.
Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)
Belgians claimed second stage win of weekend on SS9 Elmenteita 1
Technical issues saw crew fall from second to fifth overall
Neuville said: “I am really disappointed with the outcome from today. It’s hard when you put a lot of effort into your preparations for the day and you don’t get the reward. Despite being competitive all weekend, the car developed some issues that we couldn’t fix ourselves, and we had to continue with them for the whole loop. We kept fighting and we will keep going tomorrow – it is going to be a challenging day and we still need to get to the finish, but we will push and see what we can do.”
Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)
Estonians returned to rally with solid pace to move in to tenth place
Stage win on Sleeping Warrior concluded a decent Saturday in Kenya
Tänak said: “It has been such a busy day; there was always something going on and we couldn’t catch a break. In the end, this is Safari Rally Kenya and it is no surprise that anything can happen, so we have to keep ourselves motivated. Our team has put a lot of energy to get us here today after what happened yesterday, so we have no choice but to keep going. Tomorrow is a different day again and it is difficult to say what will happen, but for sure we would like to score as many points as possible – this will be crucial.”
Crew Notes: Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (#4 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)
Finns finished second on SS9 and SS10 while nursing punctures
Difficult final stage after damage to their windscreen impaired visibility
Lappi said: “When things start to go wrong, they go really wrong. Today was mainly about punctures and animals crossing that prevented us from recovering as much as we could have with the good pace we have shown when we were able to. Tomorrow we have some points available, and if the speed is similar to what we had today, then hopefully we can catch some people.”
Hyundai Motorsport President and Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “None of our cars were spared from some sort of issue today. Some related to the road position of EP after his issue yesterday,  others related to the residual damages of Ott’s accident yesterday, and like most competitors we had lots of punctures. Thierry’s issue in the afternoon is something we haven’t really seen before, so we need to have a look at the data and the fuel tank to understand what is going on. It is very tough as he was in a good position. While it is frustrating, we are only losing two points to Elfyn Evans tonight, so let’s see what we can do tomorrow, as the target remains to protect his lead in the championship.”
Sunday at a Glance
Safari Rally Kenya will feature the longest Super Sunday of the season so far, with six stages featuring on the itinerary.
Malewa (SS14/17, 8.33km), Oserengoni (SS15/18, 18.33km) and Hell’s Gate (SS16/19, 10.53km) will conclude the 367.76km event.
Hyundai Motorsport

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