Patience key to Safari Rally success but win won't be easy - Latvala

A measured and patient approach is going to be crucial to success on next week’s Safari Rally Kenya, according to Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Team Principal.
Patience key to Safari Rally success but win won't be easy - Latvala

The warning from Jari-Matti Latvala comes despite the Japanese manufacturer being a dominant force at the gravel classic since it returned to the calendar in 2021 following a near two-decade long hiatus.

Sebastien Ogier was victorious two years ago in the previous generation Toyota Yaris World Rally Car. 12 months later, aboard the new-era GR Yaris Rally1, Kalle Rovanpera took his place on the top step of the podium.

It was a significant outcome as Rovanpera – the reigning World Rally Champion – led home a historic 1-2-3-4 for Toyota. The last time that happened was 1993 as Juha Kankkunen steered his factory-backed Celica ST185s to the win from Markku Alen and Safari legend Ian Duncan. Yasuhiro Iwase brought up the rear in fourth.

“The Safari Rally has been a really exciting event for us in the last two years and of course we hope we can achieve another good result this time around, but we know it will not be easy,” said Latvala.

“We have seen that the modern Safari has the same spirit as before: it’s the longest and toughest rally in the championship and very different to the others, as it’s more about endurance and surviving stages that can be really difficult for the cars.

“For our engineers and mechanics, it’s a busy week, preparing and adapting the cars for the changing conditions. And for the drivers, patience is crucial to be able to push hard in the right moments, and not when it’s too rough.

“All four of our drivers have shown they have what it takes to succeed in Kenya and are ready for the challenge,” added the Finn.

The rally – which begins Starting from the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Thursday lunchtime, the route for round seven is broadly similar to last year and once again feature a mix of rutted, rocky roads and softer, sandier-based sections. In all, crews will tackle 19 special stages totalling 355.92 competitive kilometres.

Being the current points’ leader Rovanpera will be the first to venture into the African bush on Friday and isn’t ruling out a second win of the current campaign given how notoriously difficult and unpredictable Safari Rally Kenya is.

“I’m looking forward to going back to Kenya. I have really enjoyed the event both times we have been there,” said the 22-year-old.

“Already in 2021, we were going quite well until we got stuck in the sand. Then, last year, it was of course very special to win with a perfect result for the team.

“It’s a rally that can depend a lot on the weather, because the conditions can change completely from one year to another. That makes it a really big challenge, but it’s one that suits us quite well, I think.

“Let’s see what the conditions will be like this year and hopefully we can have another strong weekend and score more good points for the Championship.”

Read More