Ogier, Tanak set for Safari adventure

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021 00:00 | By
Rally drivers Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tanak at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, on Sunday. INSET: Tanak in Naivasha yesterday. Photo/PD/EDWIN OTIENO

Edwin Otieno and Kirera Mwiti  

Seven times world rally champion Sébastien Ogier cannot wait to savour the WRC Safari Rally adventure this week.

Ogier is visiting Africa for the first time and is looking to up the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT ante when action starts on Thursday.

Ogier and Estonian driver Ott Tanak jetted in on Sunday night in a private jet.

They will now embark on reconnaissance at Malewa, Loldia and Hell’s Gate which is the designated Power Stage.

The econnaissance will also take place in Elementeita and Soysambu Conservancy side where the roughest stage (Sleeping Warrior) is situated.

Ogier has reiterated that tyres will play a major role in Safari supremacy battles given the nature of the tough Kenyan terrain.

“I’m overly excited to be here in Kenya where I will be rallying for the first time.

To my fans, stay safe, observe the Covid protocols as we will try our level best to deliver the Safari title,” Ogier said.

Estonian Tanak who has had a bad season said: “It’s always a great feeling to try out new terrain.

We are giving this one our best shot following our retirement in Italy. Above all, we are looking forward to the Safari adventure.”

Ogier currently leads the WRC log with an 11 points over Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville of Belgium.

All has not been well for Tanak who has indicated that he will follow a different strategy for the remainder of the FIA World Rally Championship season after retiring from the lead for the second time in consecutive rallies in Italy.

The Estonian lies 57 points adrift of championship leader Ogier with seven of the 12 rounds remaining.

He lost a comfortable lead at Rally Italia Sardegna earlier in the month when he hit a rock and ripped the right rear wheel from his Hyundai i20.

It followed a similar disappointment last month when shattered suspension forced him out of Vodafone Rally de Portugal when heading for victory.

 Meanwhile, over 1,000 security officers are expected in Naivasha for the Safari Rally as tens of visitors started arriving in the lakeside town.

Already hotels are fully booked for the event with an estimated 30,000 visitors expected in the town for the international event.

A series of parties all in line with Covid-19 regulations have been organised to welcome the local and international visitors.

According to Naivasha sub-county commissioner Mutua Kisilu, a team from the national government is overseeing the security arrangements for the international event.

“Already the town is a beehive of activity and we expect this to be one of the most successful rallies,” he said.

Naivasha OCPD Samuel Waweru added that security officers had been stationed in all the hotels hosting the guests during the rally.

WRC Safari Rally chief executive officer Phineas Kimathi said that they were working closely with the county government and entrepreneurs during the event.

“We expect over 10,000 international visitors in Naivasha during the event and this will boost businesses in this town and Nakuru County,” he said.

More on Sports