05-06-2022 by redazione
It will be an exceptional Safari Rally, the one that will once again set the dirt roads of Kenya ablaze and will start from Nairobi next June 23 for four days of special stages (as many as 19) for a total of 364 kilometers of routes.
The rallyists' eagerness to confront each other after two years of canceled events and hiccuped or downsized races is as great as the passion for the quintessential African competition, which has always thrilled the most titled drivers.
It is no coincidence that among the 34 drivers who have entered this year's Safari Rally is current World Rally Championship (WRC) leader Kalle Rovanpera, who will lead the Toyota assault in the title defense campaign.
Alongside him, a rival but at the same time a stablemate, is defending champion Sebastien Ogier, the latest triumphant driver in the Kenyan Savannah competition, along with two other outstanding Toyota drivers: Takamoto Katsuta and Elfyn Evans and 2019 world champion Ott Tanak of Estonia.
Other news that is making the rounds is the return, after 20 years, of nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, in a Ford Puma. His last appearance in Kenya, which was then also his only one, was precisely in 2002, when he finished fifth in a Citroen Xsara WRC.
"In Kenya I have many memories, although at that time the Safari was a totally different race, with Special Stages that also exceeded 100 km and definitely wild," said Loeb. "It will be a difficult challenge because, in the current version, we have never raced there and we do not know the special stages, but it will be an exciting experience.
As far as the Italian presence is concerned, there is another return welcomed by the media, also because of the age of the protagonist: navigator Fabrizia Pons from Piedmont at 66 will be on the Kenyan roads, flanking Kilifi's historic compatriot Piero Canobbio, on board a Hyundai i20.
The youngest competitor instead will be a Kenyan, 20-year-old Rio Smith driving a Ford Fiesta F2.
Other competitors gracing the driver lineup include Ireland's Craig Breen, Britain's Gus Greensmith, France's Adrien Fourmaux and Thierry Neuville, Greece's Jourdan Serderidis and Sweden's Oliver Solberg.
The 19 special stages of the rally will begin on June 23 outside the Kenyatta International Convention Center. The cars from there will head to Kasarani for the Super Special Stage before heading to the Wildlife Research and Training Centre in Naivasha for an overnight stop.
The 2017 edition of the East Africa Classic Safari Rally opened in a fatal way: during yesterday's stage, the second day of the competition, an accident involved the director and patron of the Rally,
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