Rally Estonia Day 2022 Three report – Kalle and Jonne take another victory!

The final day then and a day with almost 78km’s over six stages. The startlist looked like this – Breen, Solberg, Greensmith, Loubet, Lappi, Fourmaux, Katsuta, Neuville, Tänak, Evans, Rovanperä.

We started with SS19 Tartu Vald 1 – 6.56 km and the top three was Kalle, Elfyn and Adrien. The Frenchman was quicker than Takamoto and reduced the gap a little. The was huge drama for his teammate, Pierre-Louis who struck a rock hidden at the edge of a left-hand bend and broke the front left suspension on his Puma. He made it to the end of the stage, but having looked at the damage, they decided to retire. A big shame for the young Frenchman and also M-Sport.

Onto SS20 Kanepi 1 – 16.48 km, a more normal stage flowing through the countryside and Ott plus the overall leader Kalle set the same time, whilst Takamoto was third fastest. Gus sadly retired with transmission failure at the end of the stage, giving further trouble for M-Sport Ford. The other two Hyundai’s both went off at different parts of the stage, but made it to the end of the stage.

Next up was SS21 Kambja 1 – 15.95 km and Craig once again was the early pacesetter, before his time was beaten first by Ott, then Elfyn came through next and went fastest, before Kalle came through and beat Elfyn’s time. Both the Hyundai’s had spins again in this one, the car just not liking the lack of grip. The battle between Andreas and Teemu was continuing, the gap closing another second or so as Teemu was the fastest WRC2 runner.

We had a new stage winner in SS22 Tartu Vald 2 – 6.56 km with Esapekka winning from Adrien and Ott. Elfyn and Kalle were fourth and fifth fastest the gap between them now 40 seconds. Other drivers were preparing for the second run in the stage, when rerun as the powerstage. Craig felt it went well, whilst Thierry was saving the tyres for a big push later.

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 07 / Rally Estonia 2022 / 13-17th July, 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Esapekka also won SS23 Kanepi 2 – 16.48 km from Oliver and Takamoto. It was a great time from Oliver, given that the car cut out during the stage when his centre console became detached! Elliott managed to get it back in position, and keeping the time loss to a minimum. There was a huge time difference between the top three and the later crews completing the stage almost 40 seconds slower. Elfyn took a small amount of time out of Kalle and the gap was now 38.4 seconds.

The final stage then, SS24 Kambja 2 [Power Stage] – 15.95 km and the startlist was changed once again, with the top four WRC2 drivers starting the stage first – Mikkelsen (WRC2), Suninen (WRC2), Lindholm (WRC2), Huttunen (WRC2), Breen, Solberg, Lappi, Fourmaux, Katsuta, Neuville, Tänak, Evans, Rovanperä. Andreas had a really good run, setting a great time that none of the other WRC2 crews could beat. Teemu could not, as he suddenly started getting a misfire with the engine in his i20 and he lost a huge bit of time. Mind you, the weather closed in on stage in time for Jari Huttunen to have to driver through the whole stage and meant he was a full minute slower than Andreas. Craig was next in, but could not beat the time either. Now Esapekka did have a good clean stage, with no rain and, but was still not able to beat Andreas either. Oliver went off and Adrien just tiptoed his way through the stage, ultimately losing a position to Lappi as well. The rain kept moving around, and some had a clear run, but the conditions were still extremely difficult and finally we had just two crew left to go. Elfyn and Kalle, and Andreas remained the fastest still in the stage. The sun had completely come out, meaning that these conditions were the best since Andreas came through. There was till some standing water, but as these two made their way through they were setting new green sectors through the splits. Andreas’ time was finally beaten by Elfyn by just 2.2 seconds, but then came the charging Finns…. Each split was faster and faster, and they were really on a charge out there, and when they crossed the line, they’d gone fastest by 22.5 seconds over Elfyn just in this single stage. What a drive they had done, taking thirteen stage wins and their seventh career victory. Just unbelievable and incredible.

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

Final Overall Classification – Rally Estonia

1 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2:54:29.0
2 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +1:00.9
3 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +1:55.7
4 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +3:53.3
5 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +4:13.4
6 E. Lappi J. Ferm Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +4:49.1
7 A. Fourmaux A. Coria Ford Puma Rally1 +5:09.2
8 A. Mikkelsen T. Eriksen Škoda Fabia Evo +11:01.8
9 T. Suninen M. Markkula Hyundai i20 N Rally2 +11:27.1
10 E. Lindholm R. Hämäläinen Škoda Fabia Evo +13:04.8

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (1st)

“It’s another amazing result this weekend. Opening the road on Friday morning it was hard to match Elfyn’s pace, but after that we could fight really well. The final day was not so easy to manage, it was longer than normal and a big battle with the weather. To get such huge rain on the last stages was quite tough, but on the Power Stage I still did a big push. I knew that in this weather you can make a difference and I just tried to push a bit while trying to still be a bit safe. I was enjoying the driving and the time was clearly good. It’s nice to get this victory before Rally Finland and hopefully we can do a good job there also.”

Elfyn Evans (2nd)

“It’s a bit of a relief to finish the rally after some really difficult conditions in the last couple of stages. Today was all about getting through and securing our second place. In the Power Stage I didn’t take any risks but it was good to get some points from there as well. The biggest positive is another one-two finish for the team which is great. From our side it was a step forward especially from where we were last year on this rally. Congratulations to Kalle: He was very fast, just as he was last year. I take my hat off to him and we’ll try again next time!”

Esapekka Lappi (6th)

“What a final day. It was a lot of kilometres today for a Sunday which was quite nice, and we had a good rhythm today. I had a better flow and I was a bit braver, which helped me to drive faster but it was also coming more naturally. Then we had really tricky conditions, especially on the last one which was definitely the craziest stage I have ever done. It was just horrible with the ruts all full of water. It’s been a great weekend for the team and not a bad one overall for us. We had pretty decent pace throughout, so without the problem yesterday the result would have been OK, and it’s good preparation for Rally Finland.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak (3rd)

“For the first time in my life, I have not been competitive in Estonia, so that’s a bit frustrating. It’s unfortunately the situation we are in, we did everything we could, but third place feels disappointing. The real positive is the number of kilometres we have been able to complete across all three cars. We now need to evaluate our next steps in terms of development. The Estonian fans have shown that they are passionate and full of support, so I am thankful to them for that; it’s just a shame we weren’t competitive.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 07, Rally Estonia
14-17 July 2022
Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai i20 N Rally 1
Photographer: Dufour Fabien
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Thierry Neuville (4th)

“It has been a tough and challenging weekend for us. I haven’t felt comfortable in the car, and it just didn’t work out. Lots of things came together, and even the Power Stage today didn’t go well, with zero visibility – I couldn’t see anything right from the start. Somehow, we were able to come away with fourth position, which is really the best we could have expected in this event. Our competitors were very strong, and Ott was driving really well. To finish behind our team-mate in this rally was all that we could do. We stay positive, continue fighting and there’s always hope for improvements.”

Oliver Solberg (13th)

“The conditions in the Power Stage were absolutely crazy, so much rain and standing water! It was a mission to stay on the road, but we made it to the end of what has been a very long and tough weekend. It has been difficult to build the confidence in the car needed for these stages and conditions. The team has done all it could to help me, and we have tried a lot of things. The mechanics have worked hard to prepare the car and it’s been a challenging event for them as well. We showed some signs of promise on Saturday afternoon but have a lot of work to do to get to the proper level.

M-Sport Ford WRT

Adrien Fourmaux (7th)

“I would say it was a really strong rally for me, my first one in Estonia with a top-level rally car against drivers with a lot of experience. I can be really happy with the pace we’ve shown to be able to fight for fifth position.

“It has been an interesting rally, it’s nice to build some confidence on this kind of surface, which has been tricky with the rain as well! The weather has been crazy throughout the weekend, especially in the last stage where unfortunately we lost sixth position, but I will definitely be taking the positives from this rally.”

Craig Breen (30th)

“Bit of a difficult weekend, honestly. Already from Friday, things were going against us. The speed was really good, the car is working well and I felt in a good rhythm.

“Today we tried to push for some points on the power stage, but we got caught right in the middle of the storm. No points for us today, but bring on Finland in a couple of weeks’ time. The car feels great and hopefully we can get a good result there.”

Pierre-Louis Loubet, retired Sunday

“I don’t know what to say, I just made a stupid mistake today. On Friday when we lost sixth place, we had been in a good position, so it was shame to lose time on that last stage. I was uncomfortable throughout the rest of the weekend after that.

“This morning, I was more focused on the next corner than the previous one, I was thinking about the next one because it was a corner I didn’t like. It’s all on me, and it’s a mistake I won’t be making again because on this event you can’t get away with it.”

Gus Greensmith, retired Sunday

“A tricky weekend – Friday didn’t start great but became much better in the afternoon. The plan for Saturday was to fight for sixth, but we had a puncture quite early on, so the day was mainly just about learning.

“There were a few things we wanted to try for Sunday, just to make some small improvements for Finland, but we had a problem with the driveshaft, so we had to retire the car for the day.”

Jari Huttunen (4th in WRC2)

“It was a difficult weekend. In the special stages we had the fastest times, which is great, but in some of the other stages we struggled.

“We are both looking forward to Finland, but that is another challenge of course. For sure it won’t be easy, but it will be different at least.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’

After round seven

1 K. Rovanperä 175
2 T. Neuville 92
3 E. Evans 79
4 O. Tänak 77
5 T. Katsuta 73
6 C. Breen 60
7 S. Loeb 35
8 S. Ogier 34
9 D. Sordo 34
10 G. Greensmith 28
11 E. Lappi 27
12 A. Mikkelsen 19
13 P. Loubet 18
14 O. Solberg 9

2022 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’

After round seven

 

1 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team 298
2 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 211
3 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 157
4 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team NG 80

 

Summary

Well, what an incredible performance from Kalle and Jonne throughout the weekend. To open the stages throughout Friday and still take victory is a remarkable feat, particularly given that it is meant to be a handicap. They are rewriting what is possible with their drives to victory, and I suspect into would take a huge amount of change in fortunes for them not to take their first championship this year.

In any other year, Elfyn’s amazing pace to take six stage wins throughout this rally would have meant that he and Scott would have won this rally. Second place is still their best result on this event to date, and it is a great drive. They will reset and go again in Finland, the place of their last win.

Finally, Ott and Martin. They drove a good rally with a difficult car, making the best of it. He was clearly very disappointed with third and will hope that there are better things in Finland next month. When they get the car working as they want it to, they will be right in the battle at the front.

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 07 / Rally Estonia 2022 / 13-17th July, 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Next up in Rally Finland over the weekend of the 4th to 7th of August. It will be spectacular!

Rally Estonia 2022 Day Two report – Kalle and Jonne extend their lead.

The second day then, with 97km’s over nine stages. The startlist looked like this – Breen, Solberg, Loubet, Greensmith, Katsuta, Fourmaux, Neuville, Lappi, Tänak, Evans, Rovanperä. Craig returned under the restart rules of SuperRally and would open the road therefore.

The first one then, SS10 Elva 1 – 11.73 km and it would start well with Elfyn going fastest by 6 tenths of a second over Kalle, with Ott a further 8 tenths back. The Finn said that it was a bad stage and Elfyn said that the grip was a bit inconsistent, yet somehow, they were fastest of them all. Two of the youngsters Takamoto and Adrien were battling over sixth, with the Frenchman holding an advantage of just 1.6 seconds over the Toyota Challenge driver.

Into SS11 Mäeküla 1 – 10.27 km and normal service resumed with Kalle going fastest from Elfyn and yes, Ott third. Craig was putting a very good performance together, enjoying the stage and just 1.1 seconds slower than Thierry, the M-Sport Ford driver going sixth fastest. In the WRC2 category, Teemu and Andreas were going well the top two drivers in the field and they set the exact same time in this stage. There was rain in this one, but it didn’t affect the drivers too much.

The third stage of the day then, SS12 Otepää 1 – 17.08 km and once again the top three were Kalle, Elfyn and Ott. Craig had held the early benchmark before being knocked off the top spot, showing great pace indeed and taking fourth fastest in the end. There were some position changes though, with Takamoto going past two cars and into fifth overall and his teammate Esapekka had a tyre off the rim after a landing in the stage. Gus had the same problem and they were now in seventh and ninth overall respectively. Thierry also gained a place, moving into fourth place.

The final stage of the morning loop then, SS13 Neeruti 1 – 7.60 km and once again Craig set the early benchmark before Elfyn and Kalle came through. The stage winner? Well, it was the Finn who now increased his lead over Elfyn to 19.1 seconds.

After the service break, SS14 Elva 2 – 11.73 km was once again taken by Kalle from Elfyn and Ott. These three were giving a masterclass on how to set great pace, without going to close to disaster. In the WRC2 class, Teemu was faster than Andreas again, just keeping the gap between them to 13 or so seconds, whilst Emil took the best time.

We had a swap around between Elfyn and Ott in SS15 Mäekülä 2 – 10.27 km, with Ott second fastest from Elfyn who was third, whilst Kalle took yet another stage win, his fifth of the day. Amazing stuff!

Normal service resumed on SS16 Otepää 2 – 17.08 km, with the fastest three being Kalle, Elfyn and Ott. The Finns lead was now 29.4 seconds. Amazing stuff and really given that he’d opened the road throughout Friday, what incredible consistency.

Just two left then with SS17 Neeruti 2 – 7.60 km getting some rain falling after Oliver Solberg had finished. The crews came through and could not knock the Swede off the top, but eventually Elfyn and Kalle came through and went faster pushing him down to third fastest, while they took the two top spots, the Finn edging Elfyn by just a tenth! In the WRC2 class, Marco Bulacia was fastest from Emil and Andreas.

The final stage then, SS18 Toyota Tartu 2 – 1.66 km and we had a new stage winner, with Adrien fastest from Oliver and Ott! In fact, Elfyn set an identical time as the Estonian, but it was good to see a different top two for sure!

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

Classification after Day Two

1 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2:06:12.4
2 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +29.5
3 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +1:11.9
4 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +2:20.2
5 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +3:41.3
6 A. Fourmaux A. Coria Ford Puma Rally1 +3:54.7
7 E. Lappi J. Ferm Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +4:34.5
8 P. Loubet V. Landais Ford Puma Rally1 +6:11.8
9 G. Greensmith J. Andersson Ford Puma Rally1 +7:19.7

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (1st)

“I enjoyed today a lot. To begin with this morning, I felt there was not so much grip, but then we changed the setup a bit and we started to have really good times. Every stage we were gaining a bit more time, and pushing hard but not with too much risk. Everything felt in control. Whenever we’ve had tricky low-grip conditions this year it seems that I’m able to drive well and still push quite hard and this has been nice. Tomorrow is a long day still, so we need to keep a good pace with no mistakes.”

Elfyn Evans (2nd)

“It’s been a good day behind the wheel, even if we’re not ending it where we wanted to be. But Kalle’s been really strong and I had no answer to him today. He’s been a slight step ahead all the time and now he’s built up quite an advantage over us. The positive thing is that we’re a big step ahead of where I was on this rally last year when I really struggled, and it’s great to be in a one-two position for the team. But there’s still a long way to go tomorrow and it’s not easy with the ruts and the conditions out there.”

Esapekka Lappi (7th)

“It’s not been the easiest day. It felt good on the second stage this morning and then on the next one we had the tyre come off the rim when we were landing from a jump. We were landing a bit sideways but I think it was bad luck and part of the game. It came very early in the stage so there was no chance to continue without stopping to change it, and we lost a lot of time. After that it was tricky to find the right rhythm for the driving but there were still some good stage times, even though it’s not worth risking a stupid mistake now in this position.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak (3rd)

“It has been a smooth day with no dramas. We have been discovering a bit more with the car and making some good steps, so from that point of view it has been a productive day. We have been doing all we can to find a positive way forward, looking at lot for the next rally in Finland. There are definitely areas we have found to improve; the potential is there. We need more development on the car, for sure, but it’s been encouraging. There’s only one day remaining and nothing really to push for in terms of our position but the rally itself is still quite interesting – the conditions are constantly changing, and we need to stay focused.”

Thierry Neuville (4th)

“We have faced another day of tricky and changing conditions. Somehow, on the rhythm we have been driving, we have been having fun with no real pressure. We moved up to fourth place after Esapekka’s puncture this morning, and from there we could only continue in the same way without taking any risks. You need to keep concentrated and basically have a clean, smooth drive through the stages. We used the opportunity to test a few different things on the car, but overall, it’s been about making it through safely. We have seen that we struggle in certain situations, which we need to work on, but it’s all good preparation for Rally Finland where we hope to make a step forward.”

Oliver Solberg (19th)

“Things have been getting better today. We have been able to push and set some fast split times. I am getting increasingly confident in the car. I just need more mileage. I have never done this type of road in the WRC, nor in this car. I was a bit annoyed yesterday, but I realised I just need to drive and get used to it. We had a huge moment in SS16 after bottoming out in a rut, sideways over a jump – this is proper rallying! I was happy to set some top-four times this afternoon, improving our pace despite not pushing too hard. We will keep working and making progress.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 07, Rally Estonia
14-17 July 2022
Oliver Solberg
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Tomorrow (Sunday)

With almost 78km’s over six stages still to run, there is still a big challenge ahead for the crews, especially given that there is no service break, so the day is as tough as any other day. Kalle is in a great position to extend his lead in the championship, and also Toyota will increase their lead over Hyundai as well, should it all finish as it stands. However, this is motorsport and anything can happen, so let’s wait and see.

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 07 / Rally Estonia 2022 / 13-17th July, 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Rally Estonia 2022 Day One Report – Elfyn and Kalle fight for the lead

After Thursday’s evening stage, we had Craig in the lead from Kalle and Elfyn. Moving into Friday, the first full day of stages, the startlist looked like this – Rovanperä, Neuville, Tänak, Breen, Katsuta, Evans, Greensmith, Loubet, Lappi, Solberg, Fourmaux. The crews faced just under 140km’s over the eight stages, with a service break between the two loops.

First up came SS2 Peipisääre 1 – 24.35 km and after Ott set the early pace, Elfyn came through with the fastest time moving into the overall lead, with Kalle holding second and Ott third. The early leader, Craig was fourth fastest, but as he got a penalty as well, fell down to fifth overall. The penalty was for not using electric mode in the HEV zone. Ott also got the same penalty.

Next up was SS3 Mustvee 1 – 17.09 km and we had the same top three, with Elfyn taking a second stage win from Ott and Kalle. The Welshman’s lead over his teammate was now 12.6 seconds. Further down the leaderboard, there was a swap in positions with Adrien moving ahead of Oliver, the Frenchman now into seventh overall. Meanwhile, Thierry was really struggling in the stages, only setting the fifth best time and now over 22 seconds from the leader.

Onto SS4 Raanitsa 1 – 21.45 km and Elfyn made it three in this one winning the stage from Kalle and Ott again. There was drama for Craig though who went off the road when setting a very good pace and unfortunately, he broke the steering and he was out for the day. A big shame for the leading M-Sport Ford driver, who was showing good pace before this. Everyone behind moved up a place, but the biggest gainer was Takamoto who jumped up four positions and into seventh overall.

The last stage then before the service break, SS5 Vastsemõisa 1 – 6.70 km and once again it was Elfyn fastest from Kalle and Ott and they remained the top three overall as well. In the WRC2 class, Emil held the lead from Andreas and Teemu. Hayden and John were making good progress, finishing the stages and gaining good knowledge about their i20rally2 out there.

After the break, Elfyn won SS6 Peipisääre 2 – 24.35 km from Kalle and Ott again, these three were really dominating the top places. Thierry dropped another place falling behind Esapekka and into fifth overall, and further down the positions Pierre-Louis moved up moved ahead of Takamoto and into seventh place.

The rain arrived in SS7 Mustvee 2 – 17.09 km and the top three were the same, but with Kalle now winning the stage from Ott and Elfyn. Running first on the road was an advantage, and the Finns made the most of it, reducing the gap to their teammate to just 14 seconds.

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 07 / Rally Estonia 2022 / 13-17th July, 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Just two more stages then and SS8 Raanitsa 2 – 21.45 km was taken by Kalle, now taking his stage wins to two, whilst Elfyn was second and Esapekka third. The gap between the Toyota teammates was just 10.9 seconds. The rain was really changing things out on the stages with the lead change happening in WRC2 as well. Andreas took the lead from Emil who fell from the lead to fourth in class.

The final stage of the day then, SS9 Vastsemõisa 2 – 6.70 km and Kalle had the best of the conditions, running first and setting the pace good enough to win the stage from Thierry and Adrien! It was a big mix up for sure! Meanwhile, the other two Puma crews had huge moments, sliding wide. Gus kept going, but Pierre-Louis ended up on his side and lost about two minutes and fell to ninth overall. Adrien, Takamoto and Gus all moved up one place each, now holding the three positions ahead of the Frenchman.

Here is the top ten and the views of the drivers.

Classification after Day One

 

1 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 1:16:19.7
2 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +11.7
3 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +44.3
4 E. Lappi J. Ferm Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +1:05.9
5 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +1:12.9
6 A. Fourmaux A. Coria Ford Puma Rally1 +2:08.1
7 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +2:10.9
8 G. Greensmith J. Andersson Ford Puma Rally1 +2:29.4
9 P. Loubet V. Landais Ford Puma Rally1 +3:59.0

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (1st)

“This morning the conditions were quite dry so there was a lot of cleaning for us, but I think we managed quite well and we didn’t lose too much time. Then in the afternoon the rain came and it was quite tricky, but we had some good times. In the last one it was heavy rain and I knew it was not going to get any better for the guys behind, so I pushed a lot and we could get the lead. Elfyn has been really fast the whole day, and now that we will be close together in the road order, we will try to do our best to fight, but we also need to think about the points for the championship.”

Elfyn Evans (2nd)

“It’s not been a bad day. This morning was very good, I was happy with the feeling inside the car and everything was working really well. This afternoon it was a bit more difficult with the conditions changing all the time, so it was hard to be perfect and easy to be a little bit too careful at times. We had very bad conditions in the last one, which was obviously less than ideal for us. But there’s a long way to go and it’s all to play for still, so let’s see what tomorrow brings.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 07 / Rally Estonia 2022 / 13-17th July, 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Esapekka Lappi (4th)

“We lost a bit of time this morning because of a small issue with the brakes, which were not giving me the confidence that you need on this rally. But I think we managed that quite well and were still in a good position, and once the team could fix it in the midday service the times were better in the afternoon. We were maybe a bit unlucky sometimes with the rain showers but rallying is an outdoor sport so we can’t complain! I think we’re about where we expected to be, in a position to be there if something happens in front.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak (3rd)

“Conditions were constant in the morning, but that was the opposite of what we faced this afternoon with demanding, inconsistent roads. There was water here and there, some dry places and it was just a lot more difficult. The issue in the final stage wasn’t as dramatic as it looked; a pipe came off from the windscreen heater and we had no visibility. The weather was tough anyway, so it was probably better not to see what was happening outside. Hopefully, we’ve been able to learn something in these circumstances and can take that forward. It’s important for us to get as much information from the car as we can. We are still in the competition and remain fully committed. Normally, I’d like to be competitive in Estonia; sadly, it’s not really happening so far this year but as we’ve seen today anything can change, so it’s not over yet.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 07, Rally Estonia
14-17 July 2022
Ott Tanak
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Thierry Neuville (5th)

“At the end of today, things are pretty much as we expected. We knew it was going to be a tough one for us. Generally, my target throughout the day was to improve the handling of the car. I wasn’t 100% confident but I was able to drive with good speed, set some good split times in some stages and have some fun in the tricky conditions. We had mixed feelings about the morning loop, the first two stages went well, but after that we went wrong with the set-up to try and find something to suit these very narrow sections. We arrived at midday service in fourth and wanted to keep that position. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to, but we are just seven seconds away. This is a special event; I don’t want to put my rear wheels in the ditches when I don’t know what’s there; instead, we try to stay out of trouble and hope for another clean day tomorrow. The weather forecast certainly looks interesting.”

Oliver Solberg (27th)

“We’ve made it to the end of the day at Rally Estonia, but it’s fair to say things have not gone to plan so far. After a tough morning where we really struggled to find any grip, we had a puncture on the first stage this afternoon, then touched a big rock in a corner on the stage after and the power steering broke. We tried to fix it but couldn’t and lost a lot of minutes with time penalties and fighting the issue through the next stages. I can tell you it’s not easy driving these cars without power steering! But we’re still here, so let’s try and stay positive, go again tomorrow, and hope for better.”

 

Tomorrow (Saturday)

The second day will see the crews tackle 95km’s over nine stages. Can Kalle keep the lead, or will we see Elfyn or Ott move into the lead? One thing is for sure; The drama is not over.

Rally Estonia 2022 Preview – Can anyone stop Kalle and Jonne?

The championship heads back from the Kenya plains to the fast roads of Estonia, with Kalle and Jonne holding a huge lead over their closest rivals from Hyundai. The young Finnish pairing took their first victory on these roads last year, but it will be interesting if they can repeat this feat this year. Last year he came to this event holding sixth in the championship standings and had a good road position therefore. The challenge this year will be quite different as they open the road. Still, who knows what they will be able to do given their results from the last few rounds.

His closest challengers are the two regular Hyundai crews, Thierry and Martijn and Ott and Martin. The Estonian crew will eye up a strong run on their home roads, and hope to take victory and boost their championship chances.

Amongst the usual WRC2 runners will be a returning Hayden Paddon and John Kennard, driving a i20 Rally2. The Rally Argentina 2016 winners are making a return to the world championship stages, and its fantastic to see them back.

Let’s take a look at the stages then – This year there are 313km’s over twenty-four stages.

A Super Special Stage – Tartu (1.66km) – on Thursday evening kicks off the action at Rally Estonia

Friday is the longest day of the event, with two passes each of Peipsiääre (24.35km), Mustvee (17.09km), Raanitsa (21.45km) and Vastsemõisa (6.70km) totalling 139.18km

Saturday’s running consists of two loops of four new stages, followed by another pass of the Tartu super special stage

The event concludes on Sunday with a final six stages, as the crews twice take on Tartu Vald (6.56km), Kanepi (16.48km) and Kambja (15.95km).

Let’s hear from the drivers.

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä

“Of course, it’s going to be nice for me to go back to Rally Estonia. Winning there last year was a great moment and it was a really strong weekend for us. This year we are in a different situation leading the championship and so we will be opening the road, but hopefully we can do another good result there. I always enjoy rallies like this one with fast and flowing roads, they suit me pretty well. It’s really important to feel confident in the car when driving at those speeds, so we have done a lot of work in testing to try and get the setup how we want it.”

Elfyn Evans

“I’m looking forward to these next two rallies on fast gravel roads, which will be quite different to what we’ve experienced during the last few events. Estonia will be the first really fast gravel rally that we’ve done with these cars, so the testing has been really important to try and prepare for that. I enjoy the high-speed stages we have in Estonia but it always helps a lot if you feel good in the car, so the target is to have a car that works well in all conditions and then hopefully secure a strong result at the end of the weekend.”

Esapekka Lappi

“I’m really looking forward to being in the car for these next two events, and especially my home rally in Finland of course. Estonia will not be so easy as I didn’t do the rally last year, so there are some stages that will be new for me. I believe I can do well there, but I’m not going into it with any big expectations. So far this year we have had good pace on every surface but I haven’t always been able to put it together. Therefore, the main goal for Estonia is just to have a good, clean rally.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville

“Rally Estonia is one of the fastest events on the calendar, and also the home event of Ott, so it is a rally where we always want to be strong and get good results. Personally, it is a rally I enjoy. The first season there was a bit difficult, but once you get to know the roads you start to like it more. This is because the speeds are very high, so it helps to know the conditions and the terrain. It’s very similar in terms of setup to Rally Finland, as both have fast roads that are generally flat. In Estonia the surface is a bit softer than Finland so it gets more rutted on the second pass, and the jumps are actually bigger and faster too. I was able to finish on the podium there in 2021 so hopefully I can do the same again this year.”

Ott Tänak 

“Rally Estonia is always a great event. For the first time this year we will be going to smoother, faster roads, so I am expecting it to be fun, but we also need to make sure we extract all the performance and speed we can from the car. It will be a big challenge and we will have to be fast out of the box right from the beginning. The best part for me is that I have no travel days! It’s also great to have a rally at home because we get to have the amazing fans and those close to us around us. But there is no extra pressure, we just want to score as many points as possible. We will try our best and do everything we can to finish in the top positions.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally Italia Sardegna
2-5 June 2022
Ott Tanak
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Oliver Solberg

“Rally Estonia is the event I have been looking forward to most all year. It is one I have done many times before and I have been able to win there twice. Hopefully I will be able to fight for the podium, that is my personal goal for next weekend. It is a very tricky event with a lot of jumps. It’s also very fast and it is the first time I’ve competed there in these WRC cars, so it will be a different challenge. I’ve have driven in Estonia so much it feels almost like my second country, so I feel very comfortable on the roads. In the second loop the roads can get very rutted, so you need a car that is easy to drive and has good traction. But the main thing you need is to just keep your right foot flat down!”

Teemu Suninen WRC2

“Rally Estonia has been always a great challenge with a mixture of technical, narrow roads and super-fast wide roads. However, I have always liked the rally as it is similar to my home rally in Finland. Normally conditions change quite a lot from first loop to second loop when big ruts start appearing, so you have to adapt your driving to that. We had a good pre-event test and I am starting to feel happier with car; I have a better understanding of how to get a more balanced setup for fast gravel rallies. I am looking forward to bring good points home for me and team.”

Fabrizio Zaldivar WRC2

“Rally Estonia is a very interesting event. The roads are incredibly fast and very technical at the same time, so much so that sometimes you think you are going fast and then that is not reflected in the final time. A few weeks ago, we did an excellent test here, together with Teemu and Ott. The truth is that I learned a lot from their experience, especially when they were driving the Hyundai i20 N Rally2 on these kind of roads. I am confident that we will put everything into practice which will allow us to continue learning and scoring points for the team.”

Also competing for Hyundai and sponsored by Hyundai New Zealand is Hayden Paddon and co-driven by longstanding mate, John Kennard. This is what he had to say.

Hayden Paddon WRC2

“We don’t have the stage experience and still trying to get their head around the car, so just a smooth consistent event is what we are looking for.”

M-Sport Ford WRT

Craig Breen

“Obviously really looking forward to Estonia, it’s a rally that has served us well in the past, we’ve been on the podium now a good couple of times, and the last two years as part of the world championship we managed to bring home two podiums there as well. Honestly, I can’t wait for it, it’s a run of three rallies now that I’m very familiar and comfortable with. They are the complete opposite of the last couple of rallies of the season so far! I don’t feel alien heading to Estonia, I know what it’s all about.

“We had a really good test last week, the car felt great and I was really comfortable from the beginning, so I’m looking forward to it. The stages look great, obviously with high speeds, big jumps and big crests.”

Gus Greensmith

“Really looking forward to Rally Estonia, last year we already had a good package, and things were going very well before some problems, so we showed that we can certainly set up the car in a way that works.

“From the test, I probably haven’t been this comfortable in the car since Monaco, so really looking forward to this one for sure. Super-fast rallies mean very close times and putting everything together is a big job here, so we’ll do our best.”

Pierre-Louis Loubet

“I’m very happy to be going to Estonia, it’s always amazing to drive this type of car on such a fast rally. From our side it will be very important to continue our progression after Portugal and Sardinia, to stay calm and not try to do too much because on a rally like this it is very easy to make a mistake, like always, but you can’t make any mistakes at these high speeds.

“For us it will be important to keep continuing our progress and be very focused on our side and to build maximum confidence in the car. After Estonia we also have Finland, so these are two very important rallies in the season for me.”

Adrien Fourmaux

“Estonia will be completely different to the previous rallies; it will be a really fast rally. It will be my first time with top category car on this event, but it’ll be my fourth participation in total, so I have a good knowledge of most of the stages.

“It will be nice to drive on these fast roads with all the big jumps, it’s always a good experience and a good feeling, so we can look forward to that. We had a good day of testing before the rally, and we’ll use that to do our best to achieve a good result for the team.”

Jari Huttunen WRC2

“Sardinia was a good event for us, and I am feeling very happy in the car. Estonia is a big challenge with the high-speeds, but we are looking forward to it. We started well last year, and I’ve learnt a lot from the events this season so far, so I think it’ll be good. The focus will be on not making any mistakes and keeping in tune with the car and hopefully we will get a good result for the team.”

Summary

Well, what a very interesting rally we are set for then. Can the championship leaders take another amazing win, or will it be one of his teammates? Elfyn and Scott will want to win and make some steps up the championship standings, and given that he showed such amazing pace in last season’s Rally Finland, the scene of their last win, they have a very good chance of it. There will be competition from Ott and Martin though, who will also want victory on home soil. Meanwhile, Craig and Paul in their Puma come to a rally that has seen some good success for them, and given that their car has shown good pace in their hands, they could be the dark horses for a win, which would be very welcome in the service park. Also, just want to welcome back Kiwi duo Hayden and John. It’s great to have them back.

Safari Rally Kenya 2022 – The Final Day. Toyota celebrates!

The final day then had 15km’s over six stages. Big gaps throughout the top ten meant that for there to be a big change in the standing, something very big would need to happen. The startlist looked like this – Fourmaux, Greensmith, Tänak, Loeb, Breen, Neuville, Serderidis, Solberg, Ogier, Katsuta, Evans, Rovanperä.

First up was SS14 Oserian 1 – 17.52 km and the only five cars completed the stage. They were Adrien who was fastest, Thierry, Gus, Seb Loeb and Gus. The stage was stopped when Oliver became buried in the fesh-fesh very early in the stage and could not get moving again. The top three were Adrien, Seb Loeb and Seb Ogier, who owed this to his nominal time given later. It seemed that being first on the road was the place to be, if you were going to be fast with stages that had a long section of fesh-fesh.

Onto SS15 Narasha 1 – 13.30 km and Kalle was fastest from Elfyn and Thierry. The young Finn now had an even bigger lead over Elfyn, close to 50 seconds. Seb Loeb showed the pace that the Puma could show with the fourth best time despite his starting position.

Next up was SS16 Hell’s Gate 1 – 10.53 km, run before the service break, something very unusual for Sunday’s. Ott was fastest from Thierry and Seb Ogier. Kalle opened up his lead again over Elfyn, and it was just four seconds short of a full minute. Craig was still going, but just cruising through the stages, whilst Seb Loeb was the fastest Puma driver, just six tenths of a second from the third best time.

The second run of SS17 Oserian 2 – 14.83 km saw the stage trimmed a little, and the crews starting further into the stage and away from the fesh-fesh section. Seb Loeb was fastest from Adrien and Seb Ogier. Loeb’s time brought him ahead of Kajetan and into ninth overall. Meanwhile Kalle took his lead over Elfyn to 1 minute, 2.3 seconds.

Onto the penultimate stage then, SS18 Narasha 2 – 13.30 km and it was a third stage win for Seb Loeb from Seb Ogier and Takamoto. We did lose another car and crew, with Ott and Martin retiring with failed powersteering and this brought his challenge to an end. His teammate also suffered a problem, with Oliver taking a penalty for starting the stage late and he dropped behind Kajetan who now was in ninth overall again.

Finally, it was time for SS19 Hell’s Gate 2 [Power Stage] – 10.53 km and as usual there was a change to the startlist – Johnston (WRC2), Kajetanowicz (WRC2), Greensmith, Fourmaux, Loeb, Solberg, Serderidis, Breen, Neuville, Ogier, Katsuta, Evans, Rovanperä. Seb Loeb set the early pace going fastest, before Thierry came through and set the fastest time whilst Seb Ogier was third, Gus fourth and Adrien fifth fastest. Kalle took victory though from Elfyn and Takamoto, the Japanese driver repeating his podium finish from last year, albite not in second this time, and Seb Ogier was fourth meaning that Toyota celebrated an incredible 1, 2, 3, 4. The closest Hyundai crew was Thierry in fifth place, but over eight minutes behind following his restart and other problems on these tricky stages.

Here’s the final top ten and driver comments after an amazing rally.

Final Overall Classification – Safari Rally Kenya

1 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 3:40:24.9
2 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +52.8
3 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +1:42.7
4 S. Ogier B. Veillas Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +2:10.3
5 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +10:40.9
6 C. Breen P. Nagle Ford Puma Rally1 +23:27.9
7 J. Serderidis F. Miclotte Ford Puma Rally1 +30:16.5
8 S. Loeb I. Galmiche Ford Puma Rally1 +32:12.6
9 K. Kajetanowicz M. Szczepaniak Škoda Fabia Evo +35:37.6
10 O. Solberg E. Edmondson Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +37:36.6

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (1st)

“This is a result that I don’t think we could have even imagined before the event. To have a top four that is all Toyota is something amazing and such a great result for the team. It was the hardest rally I’ve ever done, so to have all four cars at the finish with no big issues, it’s clearly the strongest and fastest car. For myself to get the win here like this in such a special rally is really nice. Thank you to the team, everybody did a great job. They are developing the car all the time which is important and that’s helping us to put some good results together.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 06 / Safari Rally Kenya 2022 / 22nd-68th June, 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Elfyn Evans (2nd)

“It’s been a really nice weekend. Of course, we really wanted to fight for the win, but that slipped away from us on Saturday with one thing or another, and today was about securing this 1-2-3-4 for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing which is obviously a fantastic result to be a part of. It was a tough fight to get through this extreme terrain here in Kenya and while everybody else has struggled, our cars have really come through it so a big well done to the team.”

Sébastien Ogier (4th)

“It has been a really strong weekend. I was only missing a bit of luck but that’s part of the game. Most of all, I’m happy to be a part of this amazing result for the team and I want to congratulate everybody at TOYOTA GAZOO Racing because it’s been a great effort to provide all four of us drivers with such a strong car for three full days on the toughest rally of the season. This rally was a tough challenge up to the end so the whole team deserves a big round of applause, and also my team-mates because they drove very well this weekend.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville (5th)

“We have achieved the maximum we could. Taking fifth place after all the trouble and mess we have experienced can probably be called a satisfying result. It has been a tough and challenging weekend, and this morning was no exception. Our focus was clearly on getting something from the Power Stage, which we managed at least. There’s not much more to say. The situation is obvious. I am really disappointed, not just for us but also for the mechanics, who have been working so hard, but like us don’t get the reward.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 06, Safari Rally Kenya
23-26 June 2022
Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai i20 N Rally1, Action during Day 3 of WRC Safari Rally Kenya 2022
Photographer: Vincent Thuillier
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Oliver Solberg (10th)

“On the positive side, it’s been a much better Safari Rally Kenya than I had last year. It’s still not the result we had hoped for, but that’s part of rallying. My thanks to all the mechanics, without whom we would not have been able to reach the end of this challenging event. Nothing is possible if we don’t have their expertise and hard work, so very big thanks to them all. We know as a team we have a lot of work to do, but we’ll be flat out from here.”

Ott Tänak (DNF)

“This Safari Rally itself has been quite fun this year with some incredibly demanding conditions. From our side, we have had a very safe approach, not taking any risks. On the first day, things worked out quite well, but unfortunately on Saturday we had a transmission issue and today we have had a power steering problem. We can’t take any points from here, but it is what it is; we must learn from this and move forward. There are many things for the engineers to take away and I hope we’ll be in a better shape for Estonia.”

M-Sport Ford WRT

Craig Breen (6th)

“The experience has been nice; I’ve never been in the country so I’ve been taking it all in. From a sporting point of view, it hasn’t gone all that well which is a pity especially off the back of Sardinia, I thought we were going to get in a rhythm over a couple of events. It all just kind of flowed against us this weekend. There was a lot of potential in the car this weekend, Seb showed that. Friday was really good, I was really happy as the pace was nice, that last stage in the evening was flowing well and then it all just snowballed downward from there with the problems that we had.”

Sebastien Loeb (9th)

“We had bad luck on day one because the technical problem we had was a little detail, a small tube started to leak and then the car didn’t start so I finished five kilometres from the service. The next day was going quite well, we had an issue with the steering arm but the team will be able to fix it as it was the first really rough rally of the season with new cars. I am a bit frustrated about the classification because our speed was quite good and we were able to fight at the front and did some good times.”

Adrien Fourmaux (14th)

“Sunday was a good day, I had a really good feeling in the car, pushing on the first stage of the loop each time and we made good times with fastest and second fastest. I also claimed my first power stage points which I am very proud of. They were the positives of the weekend, overall, it has been a really tough rally for all of the team but we have learned a lot and will come back stronger.”

Gus Greensmith (15th)

“We started really well as a team with three cars in the top five but unfortunately that didn’t last very long. We had a puncture; I didn’t realise I had had it for so long because the ground was so soft and we damaged a rim as well as some parts of the car. From that point then it was tricky and we had the roll which, as much as I was driving just to finish, it is just one of those things. I felt I needed to help the guys out so I offered my help, as much as it was the clerical work rather than the mechanical work. It was nice to round off the weekend with some power stage points and to give us a bit of a silver lining to the weekend.”

Summary

Well, what can I say? What an incredible drive from Kalle and Jonne. The key moment that decided this rally in the young Finns favour were the stages at the end of Saturday. He put some amazing times in and pretty much doubled his lead, when Elfyn had been closing on him.

Elfyn and Scott drove really well, and completed this event unlike last year. They took a couple of stage wins as well, showing that they could be on the pace as well and fight at the front. They remain sixth in the championship.

Takamoto and Aaron took a superb third place having set some very good stage times and kept out of trouble as well. It was Aaron’s first WRC podium as well, and what a place to get it!

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 06 / Safari Rally Kenya 2022 / 22nd-68th June, 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

2022 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings
After Round Six

1 K. Rovanperä 145
2 T. Neuville 80
3 O. Tänak 62
4 T. Katsuta 62
5 C. Breen 60
6 E. Evans 57
7 S. Loeb 35
8 S. Ogier 34
9 D. Sordo 34
10 G. Greensmith 28
11 P. Loubet 18
12 E. Lappi 17
13 A. Mikkelsen 12
14 O. Solberg 9

 

2022 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings
After Round Six

1 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team 246
2 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 184
3 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 144
4 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team NG 68

 

Next up is Rally Estonia over the weekend of the 14th to the 17th of July. Pop back in the week before to take a look at my preview.

Safari Rally Kenya 2022, Day Two – Toyota continue to hold the lead

Well, Saturday’s action had everything. With 150km’s over six stages it would be a big challenge for the crews. The startlist looked like this – Loeb, Fourmaux, Breen, Greensmith, Serderidis, Solberg, Ogier, Neuville, Tänak, Evans, Katsuta, Rovanperä.

First up was SS8 Soysambu 1 – 29.32 km, a very long stage to get Saturday underway, and Elfyn won the stage from Thierry and Kalle. The Welshman’s pace moved him ahead of Takamoto and closer to Kalle, the gap now down to 16.1 seconds. Seb Loeb opened the road, but still set a very good time good enough for fifth fastest. His teammate, Craig went well as well and passed Kajetan for eighth overall, but the Pole remained firmly in the lead of WRC2.

 

The much shorter SS9 Elmenteita 1 – 15.08 km was won by Theirry from Seb Loeb and Ott. Elfyn was faster than Kalle but by only 1.1 seconds. Craig remained the highest placed M-Sport driver, holding eighth place, and just driving very carefully. Unfortunately, Gus rolled his car in the stage but he got the car back onto its wheels with some help and completed the stage. His teammate Adrien retired though with broken suspension.

The first run of SS10 Sleeping Warrior 1 – 31.04 km, a spectacular run across the plains saw Thierry win a second stage in a row from Kalle and Elfyn. Sadly, there was drama with the Belgians teammate suffering a mechanical problem with his i20 and he pulled over with just about two kilometres left and retired for the day from fourth overall. Gus went on to finish this stage, but retired at the end, the engine having suffered with the low-speed roll.

Elfyn won the second run of SS11 Soysambu 2 – 29.32 km as well, with Kalle second fastest, 3.6 seconds slower and Takamoto third. The Japanese driver now had a good gap over Thierry, and was holding third place. The demise of Ott meant that Craig was now up to seventh overall, despite getting a puncture in the stage.

The following stage, SS12 Elmenteita 2 – 15.08 km was hit by heavy rain at least an hour before it started, and the last five kilometres were affected. Kalle won the stage from Thierry and Elfyn. The Belgian passed Takamoto for third place overall as well after the Japanese driver could only manage the sixth best time. Elfyn said that he could not see anything, so just had a safe run through as best he could. Kalle now had a 27.1 second lead. The end part of the stage was starting to dry, so he had the best possible conditions to drive.

On to the final stage of the day then, SS13 Sleeping Warrior 2 – 31.04 km and this stage had also had some of the rain dropped onto it, with the wet conditions starting at around ten kilometres. Seb Ogier set the best time from Kalle and Takamoto. The drive by the Japanese was great, when you consider that he had a puncture as well. Elfyn’s speed was also affected as his windscreen got covered in mud and he could not see. There were worse problems for Thierry, Oliver and also Seb Loeb. The Belgian had the worse of it and crashed into a tree, whilst his teammate Oliver’s engine cut out twice. He managed to finish though. Seb Loeb had a huge problem as his front left suspension broke at around half distance in the stage. The whole assembly was moving around and the tyre touching the wheel arch, making for some interesting sounds in the car. Still, he managed to finish the stage and was now in tenth overall.

 

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

 Classification after Day Two

1 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2:52:39.7
2 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +40.3
3 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +1:25.6
4 S. Ogier B. Veillas Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +2:38.3
5 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +10:59.3
6 O. Solberg E. Edmondson Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +12:19.1
7 C. Breen P. Nagle Ford Puma Rally1 +18:56.1

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (1st)

“It has been another tough day like we expected. Today the stages were not so soft but with the rocks and ruts it was still hard for the cars. In our position it was not so easy to try to avoid all the stones and bad places but still try to push. The conditions that came in the afternoon were really tricky. It was my first time driving here in the rain because I didn’t experience that last year and it was quite a surprise with no grip at all and so much standing water. I tried to keep it clean and find the grip from somewhere. Tomorrow is much longer than a normal Sunday so there is still a proper day of driving ahead. We need to stay sharp because still anything can happen.”

Elfyn Evans (2nd)

“I wasn’t giving too much thought to the times of anyone else today, I was mostly just trying to pick my way through the conditions. The morning was quite nice, and a bit more predictable than yesterday in terms of where it was going to be rough, but it was still difficult to judge the speed correctly all of the time. Then in the muddy conditions this afternoon it was pretty difficult, as I had a small issue cleaning the screen. I decided to try and keep the risk down but it’s impossible not to have the odd slide in conditions like that. As a team we’re in a great position but tomorrow will still be challenging with two passes of all the stages, and the second loop especially could be very interesting.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 06 / Safari Rally Kenya 2022 / 22nd-68th June, 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Sébastien Ogier (4th)

“Today I knew I couldn’t catch any positions from speed alone so there was no point in pushing like crazy – I just tried to stay out of trouble and reach the end. This morning the conditions were a bit more controllable than yesterday and I could keep a good rhythm without pushing the car too much, because it was still very rough. Then this afternoon after the rain there were many tricky sections and a lot of rhythm changes. In some places the ruts were full of water and we knew we had to be careful. With the conditions getting better I just tried to get through cleanly. Now it’s only my team-mates in front and I don’t wish them any bad luck, because if we can bring it home like this it’s an amazing result for Toyota.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville (5th)

“A challenging afternoon after a trouble-free morning in which we set two fastest stage times in Elmenteita and Sleeping Warrior. We were able to climb back to fourth position in the classification, 7.4 seconds from the podium. In the second loop, we lost some bodywork in the bumpy section of SS11. We then got hit by some electrical issues at the end of SS12 as the alternator belt went. Somehow Martijn and I made the impossible possible by fixing the car to get to the last stage just in time. A couple of kilometres in, a huge water puddle sucked water into the engine and the car stopped. It took us four minutes to get restarted but with bad visibility caused by mud on the screen, 200 metres further on we went straight into a tree. The overall classification has not been too greatly affected, we keep fifth place, and we will continue tomorrow to try and grab some points at least.”

Oliver Solberg (6th)

“The only way I can summarise today is crazy. We have been very lucky to make it to the end. We had a hectic start to the day after I clipped a big rock in the opening stage, which bent an arm. I had to take it easy to get through. For the second one, I changed it, but I made a mistake, so it was wobbling around a bit. Then, the final stage of the loop was just really rough. We had nothing to gain today, either ahead of us or behind, so we wanted to keep on the road and maintain our position. We made some changes at lunchtime which improved the feeling; the start of the second loop was a night and day difference. Then the rain came which made things even crazier. The final stage was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, and even if it was far from easy and trouble-free, we survived to face another day.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 06, Safari Rally Kenya
22-26 June 2022
Oliver Solberg, Elliott Edmondson, Hyundai i20 N Rally 1
Photographer: Dufour Fabien
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Ott Tänak (SuperRally)

“Suddenly, we heard some noise and immediately had fire in the car, so we stopped to check. It was somewhere in the transmission and the underbody of the car is closed, so we couldn’t really see what was wrong. We tried to continue but even going slowly it was catching fire so we would have burned the car. It’s frustrating but looking overall the rally has been quite good in some ways, very demanding and challenging. Yesterday we were playing in the sand, and today it was rocks and general roughness. I started the day safely, checking things out to make sure there were no surprises, but unfortunately the prop shaft ended our day.”

Sunday

The final day features a very long day with 83km’s over six stages. A proper day of rallying for sure. Kalle may have a good lead, but we’ve seen that anything is possible with this rally. Pop back tomorrow for my final day report.

Safari Rally Kenya 2022 – Day One Report. Toyota hold the lead.

The first day had everything, so here’s what happened in the first full day of competition. The startlist looked like this – Rovanperä, Neuville, Tänak, Breen, Katsuta, Evans, Loeb, Greensmith, Ogier, Solberg, Fourmaux, Serderidis.

Seb Loeb won the first stage, SS2 Loldia 1 – 19.17 km from Elfyn and Seb Ogier. Thierry who did hold second overall after SS1 fell six places to eighth. Our new top three was Ogier, Evans and Loeb. Meanwhile, Ott in his Hyundai had a big problem with his gear lever having broken, so he could only use it when changing down, but the thing broke off completely before the end of the stage, meaning he was having to lean forwards to use the selector at the bottom of his seat. The championship leader was down in ninth overall at this point.

Next up was SS3 Geothermal 1 – 11.68 km, a new stage for this year. This was interesting as Kalle was fastest from Takamoto and Elfyn. The stage was getting slower with each passing car which was crazy really. Ott had used a wheel brace as a temporary gear change lever, but was still having trouble. Never the less he still managed the fifth best time.

Onto the longest stage then of the day, SS4 Kedong 1 – 31.25 km and chaos ruled! Once again Kalle took the stage win from Ott and Takamoto. Incredibly the championship leader was now up to third overall, just 11 seconds from the leader, who was now Elfyn. Both Seb’s fell down the leaderboard, with Ogier now in second and Loeb in fifth.

After the lunchtime break and service Ogier won SS5 Loldia 2 – 19.17 km from Takamoto and Kalle. Elfyn fell down from the lead to third after getting a puncture in the stage, whist Kalle was now holding fourth. Takamoto was now second overall.

The second run of SS6 Geothermal 2 – 11.68 km saw Ogier take the stage win from Takamoto and Kalle. Elfyn fell behind Kalle into fourth overall. Just 14 seconds covered the top four at this point.

The final stage then of the day, SS7 Kedong 2 – 31.25 km and Kalle won it again from Thierry and Ott. The championship leaders pace meant that he moved into the lead of the rally again as the former leader Ogier suffered a puncture and he stopped to change it, losing a minute. He was now in sixth place. Others also having trouble were Thierry with a puncture and Craig who went off and broke his steering.

Well, what an amazing first day in the wilds of Kenya. Let’s take a look at the top ten and hear from the drivers.

Classification after Day One

1 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 1:20:58.1
2 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +14.6
3 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +22.4
4 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +25.3
5 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +57.5
6 S. Ogier B. Veillas Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +2:08.2
7 O. Solberg E. Edmondson Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +4:27.1

 

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (1st)

“It has been quite a good day for us. The conditions were very tricky in the last stage of the loop on both passes with the deep sand and I’m really happy to have made it through. The other two stages were not so bad – there was some cleaning to do for us, even on the second pass, but they were quite enjoyable to drive. I think we did a good job and we’re in a nice position now. Tomorrow will be another challenge and the plan will be the same: to try and drive at the same pace and avoid any issues.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 06 / Safari Rally Kenya 2022 / 22nd-26th June, 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Elfyn Evans (3rd)

“It’s been tough out there and a bit of an up-and-down day to be honest. The first stage of the loop today was really quite a nice stage and I had a good rhythm there, but on the longest stage the conditions were quite rough, and when it gets extreme like that it’s so hard to know how hard to push and it looks like I haven’t pushed hard enough. But we’re still here and that’s the positive thing. The car has been working really well but we know the rally could keep getting tougher.”

Sébastien Ogier (6th)

“Up until the last stage it was a good day. The rhythm was good and I tried not to attack too much because we know that it’s important to manage things on this rally. The last stage was the one we all feared the most today because we knew there were some rough and rocky sections. With 10 kilometres still to go we had no choice but to stop and change the tyre, because it would not have been possible to get through the ‘fesh-fesh’ near the end on three wheels. It’s never good to lose two minutes, but there are still two days to go and many things can still happen. We just need our luck to turn.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak (4th)

“At the beginning of the rally, we thought this would be the easiest day, but we’ve already been playing on the limit. It’s been a challenging survival day, and we’ve been fighting more with the rally itself than with our competitors. The first two stages of the loop were quite fun, and it was down to pure performance, but the final one was something else. In the first 20km, it’s rocky and difficult to avoid the stones. We knew if we had a puncture there, we’d have no chance, so we just tried to get through cleanly. After that came 5-10km of fesh-fesh, you must keep full throttle through there despite not seeing anything, otherwise you get stuck. We need a vacuum cleaner on our lungs because it’s difficult to breathe. It’s important to keep going.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 06, Safari Rally Kenya
21-26 June 2022
Ott Tanak
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Thierry Neuville (5th)

“A very challenging day for us; we obviously knew it would be hard but unfortunately, we got hit by some trouble on the first pass on the long stage, Kedong. We lost power as the air filter became blocked with sand and dust. We dropped almost one minute of time with that, and down to ninth place. The target for the afternoon was to have a cleaner run, which we managed, and as a result we’ve moved back up to fifth. The gap to the lead is just under a minute and getting closer. I’ve not been 100% happy with the handling of the car so far, which has limited us in the bumpy sections. I haven’t been able to go as fast as last year, but we’ll make some changes to try and improve. Tomorrow is the hardest, roughest day so we’ll have to be clever and avoid problems.”

Oliver Solberg (7th)

I am very happy to get the car back to service at the end of this incredibly tough day. I would go as far as to say this last stage is the craziest one that I’ve ever driven in my entire life. I’ve struggled a lot today, to be honest. The car hasn’t felt good for me, but we survived with no mistakes, which remains the aim for this weekend. The driving itself feels OK when it’s nice and flowing, and you can push a bit, but when it’s rocky it’s something else. This is still a very long event, and tomorrow looks set to be even more demanding in a different way. Seventh place is nothing when we have so much ahead; we hope to climb further up the leader board.”

Saturday

Tomorrow sees the crew tackle 150km over six more stages. It will be another challenging day on the plains of Kenya! Be sure to pop back and check out my day two report.

Safari Rally Kenya 2022 Preview – Round Six

Here we go then, after a great return to the championship last year, it’s time for the new Rally1 cars to tackle the amazing stages in Kenya! This year features 362.62km over nineteen stages. Shakedown takes place at 8am UK time on Wednesday morning. It will be interesting who is on the pace and at the front of the field.

 

Safari Rally Kenya begins on Thursday with the Super Special Kasarani (4.84km)

Friday’s running consists of two passes each of Loldia (19.17km), Geothermal (11.68km) and Kedong (31.25km)

Two loops of Soysambu (29.32km), Elmenteita (15.08km) and Sleeping Warrior (31.04km) on Saturday make it the longest day of the event in terms of distance, totalling 150.88km

The rally concludes on Sunday with the crews twice tackling Oserian (17.93km), Narasha (13.30km) and Hell’s Gate (10.53km).

Let’s hear from the drivers.

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (Championship leader)

“I think the Safari Rally will be another interesting weekend. Of course, Sardinia was maybe not as strong a rally for us as we wanted it to be, but I’m hoping that in Kenya maybe we will not lose so much time opening the road and we can try to have a good weekend. Last year, it was a good rally for us overall, we were just a bit unlucky to get stuck when we did at the end of Friday. This year we will try to avoid things like that and tackle the event in a better way, because we see a lot of difficult conditions there and things we don’t normally see in modern rallies. So for sure it’s a special place and you need to approach it a bit differently too.”

2021 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 06 / Safari Rally, Kenya / 22-27 June, 2021 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Elfyn Evans (Sixth in Championship)

“Even though we have experience from last year, it’s always difficult to know exactly what we’re going to face on an event like the Safari Rally. There’s always an element of the unknown, and we saw last year that the conditions can change massively from one area to the next. Some sections can be very soft sand, some parts are much more hard-packed, and in other places it’s very rough. It’s a big challenge for the drivers, for the cars and for the engineers as well. I’ve had a good feeling with the GR YARIS Rally1 on gravel so far and the speed has been there. Safari requires something slightly different in terms of setup but hopefully that positive feeling will still carry forward.”

Sébastien Ogier (Tenth in Championship)

“I’m looking forward to returning to Kenya. Last year we had a really nice welcome and a great atmosphere. It was something special and different to what we are used to. To win was the cherry on the cake and it will be great to try to repeat that this year with a bit of knowledge of what to expect from the stages. We saw that it can be a very tough rally; I think nearly everybody had an issue at some point and we came back from over two minutes down to win. So, it’s definitely a rally where you have to never give up, and this year with the cars still being so new, we might have to be even more clever than before.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville (Second in Championship)

“Last year was my first time in Kenya and I have some good memories from it. It was a real adventure, as we got to discover the country, the culture, the beautiful scenery, and the wildlife. But unfortunately, we left feeling disappointed as we were clearly in the lead and could have easily won the rally if it had not been for a small issue. It is a rough event where you need to find a good balance between pushing hard and knowing when to take it slower. The weather can also play a big factor. But I feel comfortable on the stages and this year we are out for revenge, so that is what we are looking forward to.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally Italia Sardegna
02-05 June 2022
Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai i20 N Rally 1
Photographer: Dufour Fabien
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Ott Tänak (Third in Championship)

“Last year Safari Rally Kenya was an incredible adventure, but also quite a big challenge. We thought it to be a very demanding event and it was, with rough roads and difficult terrain such as soft sand. It was also technically challenging, and we expect it to be the same this time. As always, the first priority is to keep the car together and finish. It is possible to push there 100% but you have to be careful not to damage the car in the process. Hopefully we can build on our win in Sardinia and get another good result in Kenya.”

Oliver Solberg (Fourteenth in Championship)

“Kenya is going to be very exciting as it is a really special rally. It will be very demanding and tough, but I am looking forward to competing there in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1. The country and the fans there are amazing, so it is a place that you always look forward to, even if it didn’t go well in 2021. But this year there are new possibilities, and we will be going for it again. Weather had a big impact on last year’s event so we will see if that is the same next weekend, but even if doesn’t we expect it to be a real challenge. The aim is to find a good rhythm, keep the car in one piece and score a good result for the team.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 06 / Safari Rally Kenya 2022 / 22nd-68th June, 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

M-Sport Ford WRT

Craig Breen (Fourth in Championship)

“I am very much looking forward to Kenya and discovering what seems to be quite the adventure. For me, I’ll be discovering a new continent, I have never been to Africa before, so I will be soaking it all up.

“The Safari Rally is an incredibly prestigious and historic event that I’ve watched many times on the TV as a kid, so I cannot wait to see what it is all about. It will be a huge challenge for all the crews, but we have prepared well. Sardinia went well, and we want to try to carry that rhythm forward so we will try to bring home another good result this week.”

Sebastien Loeb (Eighth in Championship)

“It was nice to be competitive in Portugal, the feeling in the car was good which is encouraging, Kenya is something very different, but it’s better to know we were competitive in Portugal. I don’t know the Kenya of today, all I have seen is onboards, it seems to be rough with big stones so punctures could be an issue.

“Kenya is quite amazing; it is a rally where I have the most memories with wildlife everywhere during the recce. I know the rally is very different to when I last competed there, it is more like a WRC rally, and it is easier to do it this way. The difference for me compared to the other rallies I have competed on this year is I have no experience of the stages in Kenya, I have never done them before so it will be complicated.”

Gus Greensmith (Ninth in Championship)

“I am looking forward to Safari Rally Kenya, it is one of the best experiences, probably the best experience of the year to go and compete in Kenya. It is an absolutely beautiful place, but also the stages can be incredibly unforgiving on the cars.

“It is the biggest challenge of the year and probably the only rally where we cannot drive flat out on every stage. We do have to manage the wear of the cars and have some kind of mechanical sympathy. It will be a huge challenge; we were very strong here last year so we hope to have a good result together as team here this year.”

Adrien Fourmaux (Twenty-second in Championship)

“Last year was a great result for the team, especially for me, I was really happy with what we did. Kenya is a really different rally to others; it is not all about pace and it is easier to damage the car because it is so rough. Kenya is really nice as an experience, it is a really different culture, and I will be very happy to see everyone there. Last year there were a lot of spectators, I remember in Nairobi there were a million people watching the cars going through the capital.

“There are a lot of things to say about this rally, the wildlife in the stages is quite impressive when you are driving and it makes the experience so special. You have to watch the side of the road to make sure there is nothing coming!”

Summary

Last year when this event returned to the championship after a long gap, Seb Ogier won from Takamoto and Ott was third. M-Sport duo Gus and Adrien took fourth and fifth, with the Frenchman taking a stage win as well. There were also three R5 crews in the top ten and Elfyn took tenth place after having to restart following his impact with a rock on stage three, Kedong, near the end of the stage. Again, road position will be really important, with the fesh fesh dust making grip levels very tricky!

We could see a good battle between the two Seb’s, but Elfyn will fancy his chances this year. Hopefully his lack of knowledge on the stages that he missed last year won’t hinder him and Scott. It would be good for them to finish ahead of Kalle, Ott and Thierry, so that he can start to close the gap to the top championship positions. Even though Craig and Paul don’t have any experience, they should go well and could take stage wins. The Irish duo have shown good pace on events this year that they have not competed at for years.

 

The action starts Thursday afternoon, so do enjoy, and pop back at the end of each day to check out my daily reports.

Rally Italia Sardegna 2022 – Day Three Report – Ott and Martin win for Hyundai!

The final day then and 39km over four stages to decide this event. The startlist looked like this – Lappi, Neuville, Evans, Greensmith, Katsuta, Rovanperä, Loubet, Sordo, Breen, Tänak.

First up then was SS18 Cala Flumini 1 – 12.55 km and Ott started the day as he ended Saturday with a stage win from Esapekka and Craig. Takamoto and Gus set the same time for fifth equal in the stage. For those restarting today, think Elfyn, Thierry, for them it was a case of getting through and saving their tyres for the power stage later. Elfyn was twelfth and Thierry twenty-fourth. The only change on the leader board was Jari getting past Chris and into tenth overall.

Onto SS19 Sassari – Argentiera 1 – 7.10 km and Thierry was fastest from Elfyn and Esapekka. The Belgian was looking strong on this one. The overall top three remained unchanged, with Ott fifth, Craig seventh and Dani eighth fastest in the stage.

Ott returned to the top of the timesheets in SS20 Cala Flumini 2 – 12.55 km, with Esapekka and Craig second and third. Chris Ingram in his Fabia was the top Rally2 driver, with eighth fastest. He still remained in eleventh overall.

The final stage then, SS21 Sassari – Argentiera 2 [Power Stage] – 7.10 km and there were changes as usual to the startlist – Ingram (WRC2), Huttunen (WRC2), Solans (WRC2), Gryazin (WRC2), Lappi, Neuville, Evans, Greensmith, Katsuta, Rovanperä, Loubet, Sordo, Breen, Tänak. Esapekka set the early pace, before Thierry came through setting the best time, before Elfyn came through and could not eclipse the Belgian’s time. The championship leader came closest, just 2.3 seconds behind his closest championship challenger. Esapekka and Takamoto completed the top five fastest drivers through the stage.

Final Overall Classification – Rally Italia Sardegna

1 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 3:10:59.1
2 C. Breen P. Nagle Ford Puma Rally1 +1:03.2
3 D. Sordo C. Carrera Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +1:33.0
4 P. L. Loubet V. Landais Ford Puma Rally1 +2:09.4
5 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +3:02.8
6 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +4:02.6
7 G. Greensmith J. Andersson Ford Puma Rally1 +5:23.6
8 N. Gryazin K. Aleksandrov Škoda Fabia Evo +7:37.7
9 J. Solans R. Sanjuan Citroën C3 Rally2 +8:05.7
10 J. Huttunen M. Lukka Ford Fiesta MkII +8:10.8
2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally Italia Sardegna
02-05 June 2022
Dani Sordo, Candido Carrera, Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Julien Moncet
Photographer: Dufour Fabien
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Let’s hear from the drivers

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak (1st)

“I am very happy to take this victory, especially for all the mechanics and people in the team who have put in an incredible effort to prepare for this new generation. It’s been a challenging time, but we have shown that hard work pays off. This has not been an easy rally, so the team has done a good job to keep the car going. We have made some steps since Portugal; we’ve improved the car performance and our feeling with it. There’s no doubt that when we have the confidence, we can do a good job. We need to keep working in this direction.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally Italia Sardegna
2-5 June 2022
Ott Tanak
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Dani Sordo (3rd)

“This is a very motivating result for the whole team, and I am pleased to score another podium for them. I am here with the target of competing for points, and to support our team’s fightback in the championship. Ott’s win and my third place has helped us to close the gap, which was the objective this weekend. Honestly, it would have been nice to fight more closely with Craig, but he had amazing speed and I didn’t want to take any risks. We lost some time in some stages, especially in the dust on Friday morning, but we achieved what we came for and we have to be happy with that.’

Thierry Neuville (41st)

“Looking at the positives, we have seen a strong team result this weekend. The victory is an important reward for the team after all the effort they have put in. On our side, unfortunately it’s another rally where we’re left thinking what might have been. It’s disappointing, of course, but we’ve continued to push hard, and we’ve been often on the limit. To be competitive, we really need to get everything working together across the whole event. The car performance is there, it’s not 100%, but somehow despite the struggles we have shown that we can set some fastest times. We gave it everything, and we could at least take maximum points from the Power Stage.”

 

M-Sport Ford WRT

Craig Breen (2nd)

“Obviously it’s been a great weekend, really happy with how everything went. It was important that we got a good result here after a couple of difficult rallies. So we’re definitely feeling better, and looking forward to Kenya now, having this good result in the bag should give us a bit more confidence.”

Pierre-Louis Loubet (4th)

“Really happy about this weekend for only the third race with the car and the team, we can be proud about what we’ve done. Thanks to everybody, they did a fantastic job to build such a nice guy, so to the mechanics and to everyone, thank you a lot.”

Gus Greensmith (7th)

“Obviously not a good weekend at all, really struggled to find a good feeling with the car for some reason this weekend, and could just never really find the confidence. So, we spent a lot of the weekend just trying new things, looking towards Kenya, and today on the penultimate stage that was the first time I felt comfortable with the car, and the speed showed it. At least we’ve gone in the right direction, but yeah, not a great weekend.”

Jari Huttunen (3rd WRC2)

“We’re quite happy. Especially on the pace, it is there, and there was a really nice feeling. I don’t know what it is, maybe back luck with the two punctures, and we lost quite a lot of time, but not really any more problems with the car, so overall we’re quite happy. “Our next event is Estonia, it’s difficult to say now, but hopefully we can make a good impression there also, but for sure it is a bit more difficult than this event.”

Adrien Fourmaux (DNF)

“It was a disappointing end to what was looking to be a strong weekend for the team. The plan for this event was to collect some good points for the team, which we were on track to do, but unfortunately a small mistake resulted in an accident. “I’d like to apologise to the team and thank them for their hard work over the weekend.”

 

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Esapekka Lappi (5th)

“Today we tried something a bit different to help the team for the next rally in Kenya and I think the changes worked really well. Considering we were opening the road, it felt really good. The speed has been great on this event, as it has been on every surface so far this year, and that means that the car is easy to drive. We just need to put it together. Yesterday I think we were a bit unlucky but that’s how rallying is sometimes: you get surprises. We’ll try to take the positive things from this rally into our next event.”

Elfyn Evans (40th)

“Today we were aiming towards the Power Stage and although we didn’t come away with as many points as we would have liked, some points is better than none. It’s another difficult weekend for us but there were at least some positives to take away from it, with some good moments inside the car in terms of stage times and in terms of feeling once again. The speed was quite good at many points but things just didn’t go our way. Now we try to improve for Kenya.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 05 / Rally d’Italia Sardegna 2022 / 02-05 June, 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (44th)

“We knew that today our only goal was to reach the end and try to score some extra points on the Power Stage. The feeling was not as good as I would have liked and it was quite tough but we still managed to be second-fastest, so four more points, together with fifth place on the rally. It was a tough weekend. We just knew that we had to be clever because results like this can be important when we count the points at the end of the year. We scored more than our nearest rival in the championship so we can be quite happy with that.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings
After Round Five

1 K. Rovanperä 120
2 T. Neuville 65
3 O. Tänak 62
4 C. Breen 52
5 T. Katsuta 47
6 E. Evans 39
7 D. Sordo 34
8 S. Loeb 27
9 G. Greensmith 26
10 S. Ogier 19
11 P. Loubet 18
12 E. Lappi 17
13 A. Mikkelsen 12
14 O. Solberg 8

 

2022 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings
After Round Five

1 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team 200
2 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 161
3 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 120
4 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team NG 53

 Summary

Well, what a fantastic result for Ott and Martin, taking only their third win for Hyundai. Yes, that is true, and a huge result for the 2019 world champions. They also have taken over three hundred stage wins now.

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally Italia Sardegna
2-5 June 2022
Ott Tanak
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Given that Craig had not driven this rally since 2018 for Citroen Racing, he had a fantastic result with second overall. A stage win on Saturday, which kept Dani at arm’s length showed how comfortable he is getting with his Puma, and will give him and Paul confidence for later in the season with the rallies that he knows.

Dani won this rally twice in 2019 and 2020, and showed again why Hyundai continue to keep him as one of their drivers. He used his experience to move away from Pierre-Louis and secure a well-deserved third place and boosting the team with some good points in their fight for the manufacturer’s championship.

Next

Next up is Round Six, Safari Rally Kenya held from the 23rd to the 26th of June! We already know that Seb Loeb will be driving for M-Sport Ford and so it will be very interesting to see how he gets on. Really any of the teams could take the victory in the African wilds. Make sure you keep an eye out for my preview just before.

Rally Italia Sardegna – Day Two Report – Ott and Martin lead for Hyundai!

This was going to be an important day to get through, with no mid-day service and eight stages for the crews to tackle. They were split into two loops, which meant that there were new stages in the afternoon. Elfyn and Scott returned to competition and would be first on the road. Here is the startlist for Saturday – Evans, Greensmith, Neuville, Rovanperä, Katsuta, Fourmaux, Sordo, Breen, Loubet, Tänak, Lappi.

First up then, SS10 Tempio Pausania 1 – 12.03 km and Ott was fastest from Craig and Thierry. There was huge drama though as Esapekka came through, clipped a rock and pinballed off the bank at the side of the road, ripping a rear wheel off the GR Yaris and the Finn was out for the day. Thierry was on a big push to catch the cars ahead, closing the very large gap to Kalle ahead but still 39 seconds behind the championship leader. Craig was now in second and Dani held third overall after passing Pierre-Louis who was now 2.3 seconds behind the Spaniard.

Next was SS11 Erula – Tula 1 – 15.27 km and it was a 1-2-3 for Hyundai with Ott fastest from Thierry and Dani. Takamoto had a stall in the stage and dropped one place behind Kalle who was now up to sixth place.

Craig took his Puma to a stage win in SS12 Tempio Pausania 2 – 12.03 km with Ott and Pierre-Louis second and third in the stage. The big news from this stage though, was that Thierry rolled his i20 and although he and Martijn got the car back on its wheels, it was clear that they could not continue and retired in the stage.

Ott came back in SS13 Erula – Tula 2 – 15.27 km with the fastest time from Dani and Craig. Kalle had a little spin in this one, setting the eighth best time but still maintaining sixth overall. The stage winner was starting to really build on his lead, the gap now over 30 seconds.

After the break Ott also won SS14 Coiluna – Loelle 1 – 21.60 km with Kalle and Craig second and third. Elfyn showed the pace that we briefly saw yesterday with the fifth best time, despite being the first car into the stage. Ott’s lead over Craig was now approaching 40 seconds, whilst the Puma driver was moving further ahead of Dani.

Into SS15 Monte Lerno di Pattada 1 – 17.01 km and It was another stage win for the Estonian crew, with Dani and Elfyn second and third. Ott’s lead was now 45 seconds over Craig, and he said that he wasn’t even pushing hard, but clearly, he was very comfortable in his i20 and he could show his best pace.

Just two stages left then, and Ott won SS16 Coiluna – Loelle 2 – 21.60 km as well. Craig and Kalle were second and third in the stage. Unfortunately, Elfyn stopped again with a problem with his rear suspension. Meanwhile, Takamoto was getting through the stages in the best was possible after first damaging the aero and then the radiator later in the water splash.

The final stage then, SS17 Monte Lerno di Pattada 2 – 17.01 km and first to complete was Gus. Next through was Kalle and Takamoto. It all changed with the next crew though, as Adrien lost control of his Puma and ended up beached on the edge of the road with the rear in the trees lining the right-hand side of the stage. The stage was red flagged, but in the meantime, Dani had started the stage, so he had to slow down. Once Adrien was moved to a safe spot, the stage was restarted and Craig, Pierre-Louis and Ott started the stage, but the only one that completed the at a competitive pace was the Frenchman. There was some confusion for both Craig and Ott, who both got shown the red flag again and slowed accordingly. In the end the three drivers that slowed, were given a notional time.

Classification after Day Two

1 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 2:43:35.6
2 C. Breen P. Nagle Ford Puma Rally1 +46.0
3 D. Sordo C. Carrera Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +1:06.8
4 P. L. Loubet V. Landais Ford Puma Rally1 +1:31.8
5 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +2:23.2
6 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +3:52.3
7 G. Greensmith J. Andersson Ford Puma Rally1 +5:03.3

Let’s hear from the drivers

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak (1st)

“Today was very good, I had a great feeling in the car, and I was able to control things. It’s been quite a long time since we had a run like that, to be honest. It was a bit more challenging when the conditions were hot, especially at lunchtime, otherwise the roads were holding up well. It was enjoyable. In the first stage this morning, when Esapekka was still in the fight, we gave it a good push. We wanted to start well. After that, we were step by step kind of slowing down but the times kept coming. If you are in the right mood and rhythm that’s how it should be. We had a few driveability issues at times, but that seems to be related to the temperature; when it cooled down it became better again. We’ve been in this position before, and we know anything can still happen. It’s not over until the finish line is crossed.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally Italia Sardegna
02-05 June 2022
Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai i20 N Rally 1
Photographer: Dufour Fabien
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Dani Sordo (3rd)

“We had some good luck to be here at the end of the day in one piece – we had a few moments today. It was a mixed day for us. We lost some time on the more slippery stages and we need to work a bit in this area. On the second pass, things were generally better. We had a problem in the SS16 water splash. I went in a bit fast, and water came into the car. For a moment, I thought we’d stop there but thankfully the engine started running again and we could complete the stage. The battle with Craig for second was nice, but he had a really good day and was faster than me, so it will be difficult to catch him. We don’t have many kilometres left tomorrow. We want to fight with no problems, while also keeping Loubet behind. Let’s see if our good fortune continues until the end of the rally.”

Thierry Neuville (SuperRally)

“After the disappointment of Friday’s technical issue, our target this morning was to go out there, give it a big push and have some fun. We made an aggressive tyre strategy and went hard on the opening stages. The tyres felt good, and the first two times were interesting. Unfortunately, we went a bit over the limit on the third one. I got caught out at a slow right-hander; I was late on the brakes, I climbed up the embankment and rolled the car. We kept going but I couldn’t make it to the end, and we had to retire for the day. Our rally was basically over yesterday but we wanted to continue fighting, not only for us but also for the team and mechanics, who always do an incredible job. We knew it would be a risk, especially when trying to make the impossible possible. We will be back in action tomorrow when we’ll be giving it everything to take maximum points in the Power Stage.”

 

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (6th)

“This morning especially was quite tricky with low grip and technical stages we couldn’t do too much. But we managed to just keep our own pace and then in the afternoon we could start to be a bit faster. We changed some small things on the car and I was able to find a bit more grip and feeling. That made the afternoon a bit more enjoyable. The plan was to stay out of trouble and this meant we were able to gain some places with others dropping out. Tomorrow the aim will be similar until the Power Stage and then we’ll see what we can do there.”

Elfyn Evans (SuperRally)

“Today we knew it was going to be a difficult day opening the road and it’s never easy to set good times from the front. So really it was just an opportunity to learn more about the car on gravel and use it as a test session, and everything was going quite OK actually. Then in the penultimate stage unfortunately something broke at the rear after an impact, but we didn’t lose too much from that. Tomorrow the main aim is to see what we can do from our position on the Power Stage and try to take some points if we can.”

Esapekka Lappi (SuperRally)

“This morning we didn’t change the rhythm from yesterday and the beginning of the first stage went pretty cleanly. We weren’t taking any risks. But in this narrow section there was a stone on the ground which threw us off the line – only slightly, but it was enough to make us hit the wall on the right and then a tree on the other side. It is pretty hard to accept because we were not going particularly fast. But this stage is very tricky and narrow and clearly in some places it was pretty rough as well. I had been feeling really comfortable in the car and we will see if we can try to find that feeling again tomorrow.”

Sunday

Just 39km’s over four stages for the crews to tackle. Can Ott hold on and take a well-deserved victory?

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