Ford Rallye Sport pairing Colin McRae and Nicky Grist won Kenya's Safari Rally, the toughest event in the FIA World Rally Championship calendar, giving the Scottish driver a second consecutive WRC win and his 25th in all, moving him to the top of the all-time winners' list.

The McRae/Grist Focus RS World Rally Car won the gruelling three-day, 2433km event by 2min 50.9secs after completing one of the toughest Safaris in history. Team-mates Markko M?rtin and Michael Park finished fourth in another Focus RS, a superb result on their Kenyan debut, enabling Ford to slash Peugeot's lead in the manufacturers' championship to 14 points with six of the 14 rounds remaining.

A British victory was even more fitting on this, the 50th Safari, however, as the rally was first run in 1953 to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, who this year celebrated her golden jubilee.

The Safari is a unique event in the sport. Almost three-times longer than a traditional world rally, much of it run on open roads and with the additional hazard of roaming wild animals, it is one of motorsport's great challenges. Heavy rains earlier in the year left the tracks rougher than usual and one particularly gruelling boulder-strewn section reduced competitors to a first-gear crawl at little more than 10kph. In contrast, sections across the vast, open plains saw cars driving flat out for several kilometres. Just 12 of the original 48 starters reached the finish in Nairobi.

McRae and Grist's pre-rally tactics of finding a comfortable pace which spared the Focus RS unnecessary punishment on the car-breaking roads worked to perfection as they took the lead early on the second day and were never headed, winning three of the eleven competitive sections.

"I'm absolutely delighted," said the 33-year old Scot, "Today has seemed a very long day but, now it's all over, I can enjoy the victory and taking the record as the most successful driver.

"The key was to find a good pace and stay with it. It was uncomfortable when Harri Rovanper? was chasing us yesterday, but that's the name of the game. I'd made up my mind not to change my pace.

"In Kenya, you have to play the waiting game and wait for those who are initially quicker to have problems - and that's what we did. I had no serious troubles and, to win in Greece and here, the two toughest rallies in the championship, shows how good the Focus is in rough conditions."

The conditions encountered on the rally were a shock for M?rtin and Park, but they adapted quickly and reached third overall during the second leg. The 26-year old Estonian driver, who started the final day in fifth, climbed one place, despite having to tackle the opening 106.56km section without pace notes after Park was mistakenly handed the notes for a difference section in the preceding service.

"This is a superb result for me and the Ford team," said M?rtin, who narrowly escaped hitting a herd of cows on the final section, "After Carlos Sainz retired, it was important for me to bring the car home in the points for Ford. It's been a great experience for me on how to drive on rough - and they were very rough - tracks. Patience is the key, and I was able to master that and keep the car on the road."

Jubilant Ford Rallye Sport team director Malcolm Wilson labelled McRae's win - his third on the Safari Rally - as one of the best the Scot has achieved.

"I felt it was the most controlled drive of Colin's career," Wilson enthused, "He put all his experience to good use, while Markko also produced a top-line performance. My intention was to build the strongest car to give the drivers confidence and it was fantastic. The key element in Kenya is the suspension, and that's where our designers and engineers have concentrated their efforts."

After two days of car-breaking action, drivers adopted a cautious attitude with the finish in sight. However, Citroen's Sebastien Loeb lost fourth to Martin when broken rear shock absorbers dropped him a place. However that result, and third for Thomas R?dstr?m, represented a good result for the French team on Bastille Day. Gilles Panizzi of Peugeot scored the final drivers' point but, with Citroen not eligible for the manufacturers' series and Panizzi not nominated to score for Peugeot, the final points went to Skoda's Roman Kresta, Juha Kankkunen - who nursed an ailing Hyundai through the day - and Alister McRae, who dropped time with shock absorber problems on his Mitsubishi.

From one classic rally, the championship moves to another, as the huge jumps of Finland lie in wait when Jyv?skyl? hosts the Rally Finland on 8-11 August.