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Ogier’s contract extension termed blessing for Safari

By Charles Thuku
Wednesday, August 5th, 2020
French rally driver Sébastien Ogier in action during a past WRC event. Photo/PD/COURTESY
In summary

Sébastien Ogier’s desire to extend his World Rally Championship career into 2021 is being viewed as an opportunity for Kenyan fans to savour the Frenchman’s breathtaking driving displays.

The six-time world rally champion and current leader had planned to retire at the close of the 2020 season but has now admitted that he has unfinished business.

Ogier’s 2020 WRC Safari Rally debut came a cropper when the iconic Kenyan round was postponed to next year due to the  Covid-19 pandemic and  Ogier feels the shortened 2020 season isn’t  the way to exit the revered sport and the driver is said to be in discussions with Toyota Gazoo Racing to race for one more year.

Ogier told wrc.com: “This year is complicated, so I plan to do one more season. I currently have a one-year contract, but we have started to talk about it with the team.”

While no formal announcement has been made, Toyota team principal Tommi Mäkinen has previously made clear his wish to keep the current championship leader in a Yaris into 2021.

Kenya National Rally Championship Division One Navigators’ Champion Victor Okundi believes Ogier’s presence at next year’s Safari Rally would be a mojor boost to local fans.

Said Okundi: “Safari is one of the rallies Ogier has never won and the continent [Africa] he has never competed on.

His presence in Kenya will definitely raise the profile of WRC Safari next should he seal a 2021 deal.

He will be fighting to eclipse the likes of Hyundai’s Ott Tanak. And both have never rallied in Kenya so it will be a battle to watch. 

“The prestige that comes with winning the Safari on its return to the new format is definitely going to attract some serious global attention.

I’m sure Ogier’s sponsors want to see their cash at work. Amongst the current crop of drivers his namesake Sebastien Loeb is the only one who did the Safari in 2002 and finished fifth.”

“Petter Solberg too has been to the Safari but we can’t consider him as he’s never gotten into a WRC car in the recent years.”

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