Safari Rally Kenya 2024 Preview

Time for the third round of the season and the championship moves to East Africa and this iconic event. The extra challenge of this round is that it is much earlier this year than previous years and held at the more traditional time of Easter.

This brings the added challenge of much more tricky weather conditions and heavy rain which has made the recce days very tricky. More rain is predicted throughout the three day’s of competition, which will make the 367km’s over the 19 stages certainly a challenge.

The longest day of the rally will be Saturday with 160km’s over six stages. Friday features 132km’s over six stages as well, with Sunday featuring 74km’s over four stages.

Let’s hear from the drivers then.

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville

What are the main challenges you expect to face on the Safari Rally? “This year it should be the weather conditions. With the rally moving to March, it’s the rain period in Kenya, and it’s the conditions we are most afraid of because there could be heavy rain which could make the driving close to impossible in some places. Other than this it’s a long and demanding event, but if the rain comes it will be a bit of a lottery.”

2024 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 02, Safari Rally Kenya
27 – 31 March 2024
Thierry Neuville
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

It’s been a strong start to the 2024 season, how much confidence does this give you for Kenya? “Not more than any other year to be honest because the three times I have done this rally I have had technical issues. So, when I look back over the past results, I am not really confident. However, we have prepared as good as we can and the team has worked very hard so let’s see what is possible.”

What are the advantages and disadvantages of opening the road on leg one? “It’s hard to predict, actually. In Kenya, in normal conditions, there’s no real advantage or disadvantage because it’s not like a traditional gravel rally with its clay surface. With rainy weather, it might be a big advantage but also a disadvantage because in the case of heavy rain, if we are first on the road, we might have to empty the water puddles, especially when the rain has stopped before the stage starts. If there is continuous rain or it starts raining while the stage is running it will probably be an advantage. That’s because you might be able to get through the stage without getting hit by the rain, but the cars that run 10 or 15 minutes later might have the whole stage in full wet and we have seen that in the past. But in dry conditions it’s neither an advantage or a disadvantage.”

What do you need from your Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid to be successful on the Safari Rally? “The main thing is reliability. It doesn’t need to be the fastest car, but it needs to be strong.”

It’s a very spectacular event, where does it rank among your favourite WRC events? “I like the event, but I’ve never had any good results so it’s not my favourite for that reason. Driving-wise it’s an adventure and that’s what I like, and also because it’s different to all the other events. It can be very brutal and that’s not so nice.”


Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Elfyn Evans

“The Safari Rally is the most extreme event on the calendar so it’s always an exciting one to go to. It’s more about the adventure than the pure thrill of driving but I’m looking forward to it as always. We’ve made a decent start to the year, taking good points from the first two rounds, but the Safari can be a bit of a lottery. We have to find that balance between pushing and looking after the car and see if we can be at the finish with good points, but that’s easier said than done. We’ve seen before that when it rains it can be very difficult, and we’re potentially looking at much more difficult conditions for a greater proportion of the rally and that could make things quite challenging.”

Kalle Rovanperä

“It’s really exciting to go back to Kenya. It’s been quite a good rally for me and also for our team: we have got some really amazing results there. The atmosphere is also great so I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be interesting to go there at this time of the year, during the rainy season. We expect that it could be much muddier, and already in the previous years we have seen a bit of rain and it is always really tricky and slippery in those conditions. The biggest challenge will be to have reliable pace for the whole week, be consistent and stay out of trouble. Rally Sweden didn’t go as planned, so I’m really hungry to get a good result in Kenya.”

Takamoto Katsuta

“I’m of course really excited and looking forward to the Safari Rally: it’s a rally where Toyota has been really strong. But this time we will go to Kenya in a very different part of the year, so there could be more challenges in terms of the weather conditions. We have tried to prepare for all the conditions we could have, but you never know how it will really be until you get there. On this kind of rally it’s always important to have a reliable car, which I think is our strongest point. I was feeling disappointed after Sweden but I’ve been looking forward, preparing for this rally and to do my best to get a good result for the team. This is my next target and I’m feeling good.”


M-Sport Ford WRT

Adrien Fourmaux

“I’m really pleased to be back in Kenya! I missed it last year, but I had quite a good result in 2021. The feeling and the atmosphere of this rally, with the wildlife and the amazing people living there, is really special.

“We know it’s going to be a tough event with the rainy season, and I think we’ll see a very different Kenya than in the last few years. There are many things that can happen on this event this year, so let’s see and try to deliver a good result on this rally. We want to try to keep third in the championship, keeping close to the others, that’s the main goal for now.”

Grégoire Munster

“I’m really looking forward to Kenya because it’s a rally I really appreciate, I had the chance to do it last year in the Rally2. I also competed on the classic rally with Jourdan in historic cars recently. It’s such a challenge to drive there, you can be fast in some sections but you also need to be really cautious in others, it makes the adventure so beautiful.

“The environment in which we are driving feels a bit like a dream with the wildlife and the nature. The weather changes can happen so quickly, if it rains it is often very heavy and it alters the whole profile of the stage. That makes it a big challenge and that’s why Rally Kenya is so difficult and so enjoyable for drivers at the same time.”

Jourdan Serderidis

“Kenya is definitely one of my best memories and my best result so far in WRC, so I did not see any reason why not to enjoy the event one more time! I look forward to working close to my friend Grégoire again and with our fantastic Puma Rally1.”


Oliver Solberg

“There’s definitely something very special about the Safari – and especially at this earlier time of the year. We have snow again here in Sweden, so going from here to the heat of Africa is so different and that variety of landscape and terrain is just what we need in the world championship.

“I love the Safari. It’s really a unique event in the championship – every stage can be like a different rally, the variety across the route is huge. The roads are amazing and the chance to drive through a place where the elephants are close – but not too close – is something very, very special.

“I have done some gravel testing since Sweden, so I have this surface a little bit in my mind now, but I’m not sure the roads were like the ones in Kenya. We will do the official test on Sunday, that’s when we can take a good feeling for the set-up. Last year was so enjoyable, it’s good that Elliott and I have that experience. But this year could be a little bit different with the weather. Nobody really knows what’s coming, I think it’s just before the rainy season – will it rain? I think the one thing we can say is that it will be quite hot.

“The other thing we can say is that we’re going to have a lot of competition. There’s a really good number of cars in WRC2, which is great. For me, the priority is 100% on 25 points. To achieve that, we need a good, clean rally with a big focus on every stage.”


We are set then for a spectacular rally and with all the Rally1 cars likely to be running the key piece of equipment for this rally only, the return of the snorkel to the top cars is a nod to the likely heavy rain that will be falling on the stages throughout the weekend.

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