Safari Rally Kenya 2024 – Day Two Report – Saturday

Saturday saw the crews face 160km’s over six stages. Esapekka and Ott both returned to the action with the Finn opening the road.

The first stage, SS8 Soysambu 1 – 29.32 km saw Takamoto set the fastest time from Esapekka and Kalle. Ott was the first to have a problem, with his bonnet clip on the right-hand side not having been fully engaged and leading to around a minute lost as the Estonian had to stop to secure it again. The crew had been doing some work in the engine bay leading to this problem. Meanwhile Elfyn also had to stop after getting a puncture in the stage, dropping down from second overall to fifth. The drivers that benefitted with this were Takamoto, Thierry and Adrien, moving into second, third and fourth respectively. Also having trouble was Gregoire who damaged his suspension In WRC2, Oliver was fastest from Gus and Diego. The young Swede was on the move in the category, now holding second overall and three minutes from category leader Gus.

Into SS9 Elmenteita 1 – 15.08 km, so named because of the lake nearby and Thierry was fastest in this one, from teammate EP and Kalle. Gregoire did not make the stage, having not been able to repair his rear suspension and would retire for the day. Kalle now held a lead of 58.3 seconds over teammate Takamoto. In WRC2 Gus was fastest from Oliver and Kajetan. The Brit was feeling a little better as well.

The last stage before service, SS10 Sleeping Warrior 1 – 36.08 km, called this due to the nearby mountain which looks like a sleeping Masai Warrior, and Kalle was fastest from Thierry and Elfyn. The Belgian’s pace took him ahead of Takamoto into second overall, although Kalle now held an increased lead of almost a minute and a half. Both Takamoto and Elfyn unfortunately suffered punctures in this one, but at least the Welshman did not drop anymore positions on the leaderboard. In WRC2, Oliver was fastest from Gus by a huge 41.5 seconds and cut the gap to the category leader to two minutes and twenty-two seconds. Kajetan was third fastest and remained in third position.

After the lunch and service break, which saw a very big rainstorm come over the service park and we saw the fitting of the snorkel to the Hyundai as well came SS11 Soysambu 2 – 29.32 km. Takamoto again claimed this stage from Elfyn and Kalle. The Japanese driver regained second place overall and Adrien was now third after Thierry suffered a mechanical problem with his fuel pump and having stopped a number of times in the stage and ended up losing two minutes and thirty-eight seconds. His closest competitor was Elfyn who was twenty seconds ahead now. In WRC2 Oliver was fastest again by five and a half seconds over category leader Gus, the Brit lead now reduced to two minutes and sixteen seconds. No big drama for the Brit.

At last, Elfyn was fastest in SS12 Elmenteita 2 – 15.08 km even though he had yet another puncture. Ott and Adrien were second and third. Thierry continued to suffer with problems and lost a further one minute and fifty-eight seconds, although remained in fifth overall due to the lead he held over WRC2 leader Gus. The Brit remained firmly in charge of the support category actually winning the stage from Oliver and Kajetan.

Finally, the last stage of the day, SS13 Sleeping Warrior 2 – 36.08 km and the clouds built up, but the rain did not really arrive as many had thought it would. There was drama however for some. EP had to pull over for some cars to pass him as he suffered a smashed windscreen which was on his side of the car from an early point in the stage. The reason I hear you ask? The wildlife was the reason, as two birds was hit on the stage, but not at the same time. Two drivers also suffered punctures with Elfyn (yes again) and Adrien both having problems. Quite astonishing really, but given the rocks on the road, in a way not surprising. Ott was fastest from Takamoto and Kalle.

Let’s take a look at the top positions and hear from the drivers.

Classification after Day Two

1 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid 2:48.50.2
2 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +2:08.9
3 A. Fourmaux A. Coria Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +3:13.3
4 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +5:35.6
5 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +11:48.6
6 G. Greensmith J. Andersson Škoda Fabia RS +15:02.0
7 O. Solberg E. Edmondson Škoda Fabia RS +16:57.0
8 K. Kajetanowicz M. Szczepaniak Škoda Fabia RS +21:15.7
9 J. Serderidis F. Miclotte Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +21:56.4
10 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +21:58.1

Toyota Gazoo Racing

Kalle Rovanperä

“It’s nice to end today with a good lead. This morning we had the plan to just take it quite carefully with a steady pace and make no mistakes. Our time on Sleeping Warrior was good: everyone had some issues and I felt I could manage the pace quite well. I was just trying to manage the risk, to not push so hard in the rough or tricky places, and you also need a bit of luck that everything goes well. It’s not always so enjoyable driving like that, just trying to go around every single rock, but it has paid off so far. Tomorrow is still a tough day, and we will try to finish the job.”

Takamoto Katsuta

“Today started very well with a fastest time: the car felt good, it was not a big push but still the time was good, so I was quite happy. We expected Sleeping Warrior would be tough, especially as the new section at the end was full of random rocks that you can’t see because they’re hidden in the grass. Unfortunately, we hit a big one, which felt very disappointing because I was trying to avoid problems, but almost everybody had trouble there. In the end, I’m very happy with what I have done so far. Tomorrow the main priority is to bring the car to the finish, and maybe there is a possibility to gain some points for the team as well.”

Elfyn Evans

“It’s not been a good day for us. There were some good moments: I felt a bit better in the car than yesterday and the pace was OK at points. But to have three punctures during the day really set us back. The outcome was not what we wanted, and it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. We have to try and get as many points as we can from tomorrow but it’s still a long and difficult Sunday and we need to get to the finish to get any points. We just have to focus on driving and see what we can do.”


Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville

“I am really disappointed with the outcome from today. It’s hard when you put a lot of effort into your preparations for the day and you don’t get the reward. Despite being competitive all weekend, the car developed some issues that we couldn’t fix ourselves, and we had to continue with them for the whole loop. We kept fighting and we will keep going tomorrow – it is going to be a challenging day and we still need to get to the finish, but we will push and see what we can do.”

Ott Tänak

“It has been such a busy day; there was always something going on and we couldn’t catch a break. In the end, this is Safari Rally Kenya, and it is no surprise that anything can happen, so we have to keep ourselves motivated. Our team has put a lot of energy to get us here today after what happened yesterday, so we have no choice but to keep going. Tomorrow is a different day again and it is difficult to say what will happen, but for sure we would like to score as many points as possible – this will be crucial.”

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

Esapekka Lappi

“When things start to go wrong, they go really wrong. Today was mainly about punctures and animals crossing that prevented us from recovering as much as we could have with the good pace we have shown when we were able to. Tomorrow we have some points available, and if the speed is similar to what we had today, then hopefully we can catch some people.”


Škoda Motorsport (Toksport)

Oliver Solberg

“Today has been OK, it’s difficult because we are here to race and, of course, you want to push and take the best time possible. But at the same time, we are second and that would give us good championship points.

“The gap ahead is just a little bit too big to try to make a big difference with the driving and every time you are anywhere near the limit, then you are taking the big risk. We didn’t have any issues, but it was so difficult to drive at times, so many rocks around! We had a little bit of rain in the last stage, but it could have been a lot worse.

“This is an incredible place to come to compete – when you are driving down the road sections, some of the sights, the wildlife and the scenery, it’s just amazing. And, of course, the people are fantastic, so friendly and so happy to see us. The feeling is the same from us!

“Tomorrow the plan will be the same. It’s a long day, we have 74 kilometres coming – that’s more than the usual Sunday – and we want to bring home the points. Let’s see what happens.”



Well, what a day two! The rain came but did not affect the stages, mainly falling in the service park. Through all the problems came two-time champions Kalle and Jonne and showed why they are double world champions.

Of course, the points for 1st to 10th positions are locked in place and Elfyn somehow outscored his championship rival Thierry by a couple of points. Now, all the crews need to make it to the end of the rally to actually gain these points.

The final day will see the crews tackle 74km’s over six stages. What will the day bring?

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